A Spectrum to Explain Staffing Choices for School Libraries

By Dorcas Hand, School Library Advocate; Co-Chair Students Need Libraries in HISD; Editor, TASLTalks blog


Three years ago, Terry Roper of Region 10 presented to the annual TASLA (TX Association of School Library Administrators) the idea of a Hiring Toolkit designed by us to offer school administrators in Texas guidance as they hire librarians. We at the meeting loved the idea – and the School Administrator Toolkit: A Guide to Hiring School Librarians was born. A year or so later at TLA annual conference, Terry offered a session to publicize the website; the presentation included brainstorming about what might be added to make it better. One idea that has sat in my brain ever since was an illustrated spectrum of the skills that librarians offer that others cannot. This idea is easier described than accomplished, as is demonstrated by the years of simmering in the back of my mind it took to get started. And then the need for other eyes and ideas to strengthen it. Thank you to Brooke King for stepping up last summer to flesh out the list of skills and sort them into Areas of Expertise, and then to offer further edits as we worked along to now. Thank you to Debbie Hall and Suzanne Lyons for insights as I’ve massaged and massaged over the fall. And to Donna Kearley who had barely come up for air from the state Standards writing effort before I asked for her thoughts – which brought me some great improvements in language. We struggled with whether green should be on the left as the starting point – or the right as the ending point. And what to do about the places where a non-librarian might be able to do the job. Today, I am pleased to offer to everyone the results of these labors.

First, there are two formats: the full-page form looks better on screen where the live links can jump a reader to the right section. The booklet is better in print, half-page size ready for a building principal to thumb through. These are posted in PDF for public access together in a Google folder. Listing the many skills of school librarians is not easy! This effort may well take other forms in the future – Mary Woodard suggested a Venn diagram, so we’ll see how that might work as further support for our case. And I plan to do a crosswalk to the new TX Standards for School Libraries as well as the 2017 AASL National Standards for School Libraries. But first, just this basic document. If you have further suggestions of how to improve the work toward a second edition, please be in touch.

Meanwhile, everyone should make heavy use of this project with your own principal, your district leadership, and anyone else who is interested.

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