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Alaska School Libraries: an Overview

Putting Alaska School Libraries in Perspective: The Big Picture


Lucky you! What a responsibility and adventure to be in charge of a school library. Working in the school library involves you in the education of every child in the school. This in turn connects you with their parents, teachers, and the administrators of your school.

School librarians work with library users of many ages, abilities, learning styles, and languages. School librarians are responsible for the development and management of the collection, facility and library program. In most schools the person in charge of the school library works alone or with little help and may have additional responsibilities for part of the day outside the library.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the enormous job or bogged down in the daily details, it may help to step back and look at the big picture. School libraries are (1) a link in a network of libraries and (2) a valuable component of the education program.

(1) The Big Picture: A Link in a Network of Libraries

The school library is often the first, and sometimes the only, contact children have with libraries. They are a major part of the library information network. School libraries are essential in helping people become lifelong users of ideas and information. It is important for them to be strong and active. (See Research Summaries)

One way libraries are networked is for resource sharing through Interlibrary Loan. Schools have not always been active participants in Interlibrary Loan, but new technologies and services have made it easier to receive and provide broader access to materials.

Libraries of all kinds are hubs of information. They link their patrons with books and information in the library. They are also able to link their patrons to sources of information outside the library. Informal and formal communication and collaboration as well as information sharing can occur between and among libraries and librarians through email, fax, conference calls, listservs, databases, websites and Interlibrary Loan. We are no longer limited to the information on our shelves and in our community.  The Internet will never replace libraries but it can supplement and enhance library collections. The new issue is not finding information but sorting out what’s valid and useful. Librarians know how to identify reliable websites and resources. These three urls provide information on evaluating websites:

Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/eval.html

Multnomah County Library http://www.multcolib.org/homework/webeval.html

UC Berkeley Library http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html)


Some libraries pay for access to commercial databases in addition to making free ones available. The State of Alaska supports the Digital Pipeline with access to a broad range of quality databases in one place, free to all Alaskans. (http://sled.alaska.edu/databases/home.html)

Check with your principal or your local or State School Library Coordinator if you have questions about access to or upgrading your Internet access. Local, state and national associations provide a starting point to begin an exchange of information with other librarians. With greater access to the communication network, the school librarian is no longer isolated. (See Associations and Organizations ; Interlibrary Loan ; SLED; and Websites - Only the Essential Ones.)

(2) The Big Picture: A Component in the Education Program

Classroom lessons can be enhanced by a library’s resources. It is important to work closely with teachers to provide integrated opportunities for student learning. People learn best when they have a need to know. Some of the most successful library instruction will be done in tandem with classroom teachers. Other instruction takes place formally, in scheduled library classes, and informally, one-on-one, when students come to the library to research a particular topic or look for a book.

By working with teachers in planning assignments, you will anticipate student questions and be better prepared to help answer them. The school librarian and the teacher work together to help students learn both the information itself and the search process necessary to find the needed information. (See Big6, and Library/Information Literacy Standards.)

Alaska School Libraries: Their relationship to other groups


Alaska school libraries have a relationship with at least some of the groups listed below.

1. Municipal/Borough Assemblies: Some Alaska school district budgets fall under the authority of the municipal or borough assembly. Anchorage is one example.

2. Neighborhoods and Communities: School libraries are a valuable resource for the community. Some communities have combined the public and school library collections to provide services to all members of the area. This works well in some situations. The Alaska State Library can provide your community with information on combined school/public facilities.

3. School Districts; School Boards and Superintendents: Most schools in the state operate under the direction of these administrative authorities. They are responsible for budgets, facilities, curricula and employee hiring and firing and are subject to state and federal laws. They will impact your school and library whether you are the only school in the district or one of many. Some districts share costs for services and personnel. You might consider contracting to share a School Library Coordinator

4. Accrediting Associations: Regional accrediting agencies throughout the United States have the responsibility of monitoring schools for the purpose of accreditation. Alaska schools are accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools & Colleges with offices in Boise, Idaho. The Association publishes guidelines for schools of all levels but generally only secondary schools go through the accreditation process. (See Accreditation Standards.)

5.Alaska Department of Education:

Aspects of school librarianship fall under the umbrella of the Department of Education, specifically the Division of State Libraries, Archives and Museums. The School Library State is a member of the Library Development Section that provides training, consultation, reference service, general assistance and professional development to libraries and librarians within their service areas. The relationship is advisory. (See Alaska State Library.)

6. Alaska State Legislature: Funding for public schools in Alaska is allocated by the state legislature. The budget is then passed on to municipal governments and school districts for distribution. Currently, decisions made in late spring decide the budget for the year beginning in July.

7. U.S. Congress: The legislative arm of the federal government occasionally passes bills relating to education.

Some of these decision-making groups are elected. It is important for you to be aware of the issues related to education and school libraries. Talk with your representatives about their positions on education issues. Remember, you can impact outcomes by being an informed voter and advocate for your library. 

Your Foundation: Managing Your School Library


Once you have identified where you fit into the big picture, you can begin to examine the foundation for your own library program. This will help you focus your energies so that your work becomes more meaningful and purposeful.

Your school library media program is created by:

1.      Laying your foundation.

2.      Assessing your resources

3.      Identifying management skills

1. Laying the foundation

Basic to your foundation documents are your mission statement, goals and objectives. They are essential in connecting the user with the information and resources needed.

Mission Statements. A mission statement simply states the purpose of your library. It can be as short as a few sentences or as long as a page. Common elements in mission statements are (1) an identification of the library users and (2) an identification of their needs. This could include supporting the curriculum, encouraging reading, or preparing students for lifelong learning. The mission establishes the scope of the library’s activities, acts as a foundation for planning, and gives direction to the library’s daily activities.

An example from Information Power is only one sentence:

The mission of the library media program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information.


If your school library or your district does not have a mission statement you may want to discuss it with your principal. A library advisory committee might help draft one. Once your mission statement is adopted, it will provide a checkpoint to keep you on track.

Goals and Objectives. Your goals and objectives not only determine the direction for your library media program but should also support the mission statement.

Goals:  A library usually has several goals. Goals are broad in scope, may be on-going, and might never be achieved. Your district school board and administrators may have established goals and objectives. It is advisable to link some of your goals to those of your school and district as well as to state and national standards.

Goals may be grouped by:

1.      Function. Includes instruction, consulting, public relations and other collection utilization activities.  An example of function would be a program.

2.      Management.  Includes staffing, facilities, budgeting, and others.

3.      Collection Development. Includes selection, acquisitions, evaluation.


Example of a goal:

To provide intellectual and physical access to materials in all formats

Objectives: Objectives are specific and measurable, usually with a time frame for accomplishing them. Examine your goals and objectives early in the academic year and discuss them with your principal, district media coordinator (if you have one) and your library advisory committee (again, if you have one.) You will probably want to reevaluate your goals and objectives each school year. You may have several objectives supporting each of your goals.

Example of an objective with a goal:

Goal: Provide a current reference collection.

Objective: By May of next year, the reference collection 000-003 will be weeded.


 2. Assessing Your Resources

Once you know what you want to do, you can turn your attention to your resources – what you have to work with in order to accomplish these goals and objectives. School library resources fall into four general categories:

a)     Facility

b)     Collection

c)     Team

d)     Budget


 (a) Facility. Unless you have the experience of planning a new library media center or the remodeling of an older one, you will have a facility already set up in which to operate your library program. Even though you cannot do much about the walls, doors and permanent fixtures, you may have some flexibility in the arrangement of furnishings and equipment within the library.

You may wish to live with things as they are for a while until you see what works and what doesn’t. It is not easy to move library books, shelves and furniture, but it can be done and may be worth the effort to make your facility function better.

Keep in mind basic functions, activities, supervision, traffic patterns, security and other problems when considering rearrangement of the center. Other important considerations include light, temperature, ventilation, sound, space and color – all of which contribute in a positive or negative way to the general atmosphere of the library. (See Facilities, which includes ideas to consider before undertaking a facility project.) Other resources are available from the State School Library Coordinator’s office.

 (b) Collection. The library media collection is the most important tool you have in your program. Ideally, it provides a foundation of information for faculty and students to develop the learning process that begins in the classroom. Your job is to help the user (students and faculty) make the connection with the resources in your collection. Remember, your collection should reach beyond your four walls; the Internet with all its resources can offer more current and expanded access to information.

Development and utilization of the collection are important. Everything you do should relate in some way to connecting users with information. (See Selection.)

(c) Team. When you work in a school library you may feel like you are all alone but you actually have a whole team of potential supporters. You should have some (or all) of the following people available to call upon for help or advice.

Who can be on your team?

On the building level: Staff – Administration -- Students including student aides

On the District Level: District Administrators -- District Library Coordinator -- School Board Members

On the Community level: Volunteers -- Other Librarians -- Library Advisory Board -- Parents

On the State level: State School Library Coordinator/ASL -- Alaska Association of School Librarians (AkASL) -- Alaska Library Association (AkLA) -- Other Librarians

Beyond Alaska: American Association of School Librarians (AASL) -- American Library Association (ALA) --  Professional Publications  [Many professional publications are available online in the Professional Development Collection in the Education section of the Alaska Digital Pipeline on SLED.]

(d) Budget. In some school districts a budget is handed to the librarian. In that case, you will be responsible for following district procedures and tracking the money spent. Or, you may be in a situation where you have some input into the amount of money budgeted for library resources and supplies. You won’t be responsible for facility costs or salaries. You will be accountable, however, for the money you spend and for justifying any additional requests you make. Principals may have discretionary money available to spend for the school. The library may get a part of this money because it serves all students and faculty. (See Budget.)

It is a good idea to sit in on district curriculum committees and attend department meetings when textbook and curriculum adoptions are in process or when new classes or programs are considered. This keeps you aware of curriculum needs and allows the library to support these changes with new materials. Any major change should have a special library allocation. This may be overlooked if there is not someone in the meeting to remind committee members to include library support.

In addition to the budget and special allocations you may receive from the district or school, there are other sources of income. These include:

·        Grants

·        Fund-raisers

·        Donations

Grants provide money for educational purposes. Be on the lookout for announcements. If your district has a person designated as a grant writer, use him or her as a resource. (See Grants)

Fund-raisers can be very time-consuming. You will want to consider the time involved versus the benefit before you commit to one. Many school activities are financed by fund-raisers so think about limiting your participation to those that promote reading and learning. Examples of these types of promotions would be book fairs or magazine sales. Consider asking parent or community groups to sponsor or work with you if you decide to hold a fund-raiser. You shouldn’t have to do this alone. (See Book Fairs.)

Donations are yet another way to supplement your collection. Often parent organizations or a community group will donate proceeds of a fund-raiser. Start a “want list” of equipment or other expensive items and let appropriate groups know of the needs. Consider approaching a local business to partner with you in supporting library activities. For example, you can ask a local business to help with buying T-shirts and medals for Battle of the Books. Be sure that your principal approves of any approach you make outside the building, however.

Donations can be given to specifically buy or develop special collections. Order or make bookplates that include the library’s name, the donor, and/or the person honored. Remember this when honoring a retiring teacher, celebrating a special anniversary, a birthday, establishing a memorial, or trying to get a special collection developed.

Gift donations should be accepted with the understanding that you may pass on to other organizations any materials that you cannot use in your collection. (See Selection.) If asked to provide written documentation for tax purposes, you can state items donated but the donor is responsible for designating a dollar value.

In all of these cases, communication with your principal is of utmost importance. All districts have specific policies for requesting or receiving outside monies.

3. Identifying Management Skills

The management of a school library involves many of the same skills required to successfully run other educational and business enterprises. These basic skills fall under the following categories:

a)     Planning

b)     Organizing

c)     Staffing

d)     Directing

e)     Evaluating

f)       Reporting

Let’s look at each of these skills.

a. Planning

Planning is a continuous process and can include comprehensive, long-range (3-5 years) as well as specific day-to-day plans. Planning is done as you set your goals and objectives to decide what you are going to do and how you will do it. These plans should incorporate your mission statement and coordinate with the goals of your building and district.  It is important to periodically review your mission statement, goals and objectives to be sure you are on track.

b. Organizing

Organizing the library media program involves the identification of tasks to meet your goals and objectives, determining who will be responsible for them and how the work will be done.

An organizational chart shows the lines of authority, as well as staff relationships which are only advisory. For example, in schools it is common for the librarian or library aide to report directly to the principal. The relationship of the librarian or library aide to the District Library Coordinator varies from district to district but that relationship may be advisory only. It is important for you to understand how lines of authority above you are drawn.

c. Staffing

Staffing relates to activities involving personnel such as hiring and training. It is very important to have a clear and accurate job description for your position as well as any staff. You may be able to hire your staff yourself. If not, it will be necessary to communicate the skills needed and a description of the job to those doing the hiring. (See Job Descriptions.) You may also be working with students and volunteers, both of which require time for training and directing. (See Student Aides and Volunteers.)

d. Directing

Directing requires you to interact with personnel to achieve the goals and objectives of the library media center. Directing involves motivation, leadership and communication. These skills determine how well you work with your volunteers, students, teachers and administrators.

A policy and procedures manual for your school library will simplify things in the long run. Putting one together may be a bit of a chore but it can be done as a semester or quarter project. (See Procedures Manuals)

e. Evaluating

Evaluation is essential. (See Evaluation of School Library Media Programs and Evaluation of School Library Media Specialists.) Use the goals you have created to evaluate your program. Have you accomplished what you intended? Look at district/state standards and ask the same question. In other words, compare your actual outcomes to your intended outcomes. Your evaluation can be formal or informal. You will be evaluating many aspects of your library work informally by perhaps nothing more than thinking to yourself “This lesson worked well!” or “This idea is not working at all!” Periodically you may want to put some time into a more formal approach to evaluation.

Many things need to be evaluated: the collection, your program, individual presentations, student perception of the library, teacher’s perceptions of how the program is working, and even your own job performance. Your district will also have a formal means of evaluating staff. Be sure your library goals and objectives are considered in the district’s evaluation of library staff.

f. Reporting

Usually at the end of the year you are expected to prepare a report. This may include a report of lost books, your yearly circulation, materials added, materials withdrawn, and numbers of classes meeting in your library. Your report may be brief but you can include a great deal of information by using a consistent form for statistical information. (See Statistics.)

You will want to frequently report to your principal about library activities, trends, concerns, etc. Faculty meetings or department chair meetings provide an opportunity to report and share information. You may also have an opportunity to speak to the school board or parent groups regarding the library. You may be uncomfortable doing this the first few times, but each time you speak to an audience it will get easier. An alternative is to prepare a brief written report when requested and then make yourself available for questions.

In Conclusion…

Your management skills will improve with practice. There are always new management trends to be found on professional and general publications. You can also pick up ideas by observing other managers and talking with other librarians. There are books on school library administration available to borrow from the office of the State School Library Coordinator.

Experienced librarians as well as novice library staff will begin a new job on stronger footing if time is taken to prepare the groundwork. Examine the foundation, survey the resources and review good management skills.


Connecting People and Information: The Heart of Your Work in a School Library


The job of connecting people and information can be accomplished by doing two things:

1. Building your Collection

2. Developing your library program

1. Building the Collection

The way to plan and shape your collection is by adding and withdrawing materials as necessary. These days, resources include not only books and periodicals but also CDs, DVDs (and other multi-media), websites and other electronic sources of information. Three steps are necessary to build your collection:

a)     Planning your collection development

b)     Organizing your materials

c)     Managing your collection

a. Planning your collection development. Ideally, your collection development plan will be drafted in cooperation with the teachers and principal. If there is a district library director or curriculum coordinator they should also be consulted.

Your collection development plan should include such things as the needs of your community, the selection policy, age and relevance of the materials. You also need to evaluate your collection in terms of what you have and what you need. The State School Library Coordinator is an excellent resource. There are also many good sources online to help you get started in making your collection development plan. Here are just a few:







b. Organizing the materials. Materials in the collection will be classified and cataloged following a standardized system. The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) System has been widely accepted by schools as well as most public libraries. (See Call Numbers and Classifications for more information.) In order to organize your materials efficiently you need to think about your classification and cataloging options.

Preprocessed materials (See Processing Materials.) provide the easiest way for small libraries to handle classification and processing.

Large book vendors, also called jobbers, offer processing for an additional charge. You decide how you want things processed, you tell the jobber, and your items arrive ready to shelve. You should keep a copy of these instructions in your policy manual for consistency in case you want to use other jobbers.

Downloading cataloging information from a commercial database is another way to get cataloging information. Check with the District or State School Library Coordinator for the latest information.

CIP, or Cataloging in Process, is found on the back (verso) of the title page of most books in the United States. From this information you are able to catalog your own materials.

c. Managing the Collection. In order to maintain your collection you need to consider circulation, mending, binding, weeding, inventory and keeping statistics of your materials.

Circulation can be manual or automated. If manual, users will likely use book pockets and cards. An advantage of this type of circulation is that students and volunteers can easily learn and use the system. A disadvantage would be a lack of statistical information. Automated checkouts save time and offer statistics in circulation and information on usage.

Replacing versus repairing worn or damaged materials is always a concern. Simple repairs are good for emergencies on popular materials but you might want to consider buying a new copy if you have a well-worn title that should be kept.

Buying pre-bound books or sending books to a bindery allows longer use of paperbacks and magazines. Your District or State School Library Coordinator can give you more information.

Inventory and weeding should be part of your regular activities. Inventory is usually done at the end of the school year. Weeding can be done during an inventory, but also throughout the year.

When getting statistics, you should know ahead of time what information is required of you, what your system’s capabilities are, and how these statistics can help you run and maintain a useful library.



2. Developing your library program

After you build and shape your collection you are on your way to success. Maximizing the use of the collection lays a firm foundation for a lifetime of learning. How does one build this important foundation?

·        Integrate library information skills with the curriculum

·        Provide reference service

·        Promote reading and lifetime learning

Integrate library information skills. There are specific identifiable library/information literacy skills that students need to know. These are best learned when integrated with the entire curriculum. (See Library /Information Literacy Standards.) The school librarian should work with every teacher to ensure that students are introduced to and receive constant practice in learning to find, evaluate and use information.

Provide reference service. Individual, one-on-one interaction between student and librarian provides an excellent opportunity for a learning experience for the student. By talking through the research process, the student may pick up hints on how to do a search independently the next time. When working with students on an individual basis, an important guideline is to remember that students are at many different levels of expertise in library use. We need to recognize the level of the students’ knowledge or experience and begin building from there. Guided practice ensures effective learning.

Promote reading and lifelong learning. This is what makes your library come alive. You can stay very busy working with teachers, doing library instruction, adding to your collection, and doing the dozens of other things you have to do in running a school library and never do any programs. Programming is the opportunity you have to create an environment, an excitement about books and reading, and a love for learning. Within this website there are many places to help you develop special projects to add to your own library program. Here are just a few:

Author Visits

Awards, Honors and Prizes

Battle of the Books

Book Fairs

Book Talks

Bulletin Boards

Reading Programs


Young Readers’ Choice.


You will want to be selective in the special programs you choose to promote. Be flexible and try different things but there is some advantage in establishing traditions in your school. When you find a program that is particularly popular with students you may want to repeat it each year.


Leading the Way: Educating and Advocating in the Community


School librarians are “blended professionals” – part teacher, part administrator, and part support staff. The proportions vary from school to school, but usually some aspects of all these elements are present in each school librarian’s job.

Even in the smallest schools the person in charge may be given great responsibilities. You may be a paraprofessional or clerical staff with little or no training and no district librarian to call for support. If this is your story, the State School Library Coordinator, other librarians, and professional organizations can provide assistance.

School librarians need to be information specialists as well as curriculum generalists. Because of the complexities of librarianship and its unique nature, the school librarian’s job is often misunderstood. Therefore, it is up to us to promote the value of our school library program within our school and community.

Preparing for leadership

Whether you operate your library out of a closet or you have a large collection, you are responsible for the library program - you are the information leader. As a librarian, you are in the unique position to see both the teaching and administrative side of school. With all this information and your broad knowledge of the curriculum and education you are in a position to join with others to make a difference in your building, your district, and beyond.

Collaborate with faculty and students to enhance the curriculum. There is a great deal to be learned from observing in classes as well as other school libraries. Here are four ways to enhance your skills:

·        Certification and Endorsement

·        Formal Education

·        Continuing Education

·        Professional Organizations

Certification and Endorsement. Ideally, school districts will employ certified librarians to manage their library media programs. Some states are very specific about the courses required for an endorsement. The link http://www.eed.state.ak.us/teachercertification/ provides specific Alaska requirements, while a list for all states can be found at: http://www.schoollibrarymedia.com/cert/index.html. Of course, you can also contact your State School Library Coordinator or your District Personnel Office for more information. Requirements can change over time and vary state to state.

Formal Education. The professional degree in library science is at the master’s level and should be from an ALA accredited program. (See Library Schools.) Classroom teachers in many states may be certified as librarians or media specialists with additional hours of library science.

Certainly, a master’s degree in library science from an ALA accredited library school will give the librarian more flexibility in employment. Professional positions in academic, public and special libraries require a master’s degree: http://www.ala.org/ala/educationcareers/education/accreditedprograms/directory/index.cfm

There are a number of scholarships available for graduate education in library science. Although websites are constantly being updated, here are a couple of sites to check. Further searches will turn up even more ideas: 




Continuing Education. The annual AKLA conference, held usually in March each year, offers a variety of opportunities for continuing education for school library media personnel. The Alaska Library Association (AkLA), Alaska Association of School Librarians (AkASL) and the Alaska State Library often offer workshops and short classes on specific topics related to school libraries. (See Associations and Organizations.) Join these state library associations and watch for training and class announcements. These are excellent opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment.

The Alaska State Library sponsors a basic training for library aides called School Library Boot Camp in Anchorage or onsite for school districts.  It also partners with the AkASL to offer the School Librarians Leadership Academy in Anchorage.  This three-credit upper level class can be used for recency credits for certified teacher librarians.

Professional Organizations. Professional organizations offer conferences, classes, workshops and valuable networking opportunities. They also provide such professional publications as the Puffin, and School Library Journal.

Dealing with issues

What issues will you face as a school librarian? There are many, but here some you will want to be aware of are:

·        Censorship and Intellectual Freedom

·        Confidentiality

·        Copyright

·        Diversity

·        Laws and Legislation

·        Scheduling: Fixed vs. Flexible

·        Technology

 Censorship and Intellectual Freedom. It is important to understand the process for handling challenges in your district so you will not be unprepared when someone challenges a book from your library. It seems challenges are more frequent and challengers better prepared than ever. (See Censorship & Controversial Materials.) Fighting censorship and defending intellectual freedom are among the most important responsibilities of a school librarian.

Confidentiality. Librarians must be ever vigilant in protecting their users’ right to privacy. Do your circulation cards show the names of students who have checked out the material in the past? Do you send out overdue lists to classroom teachers showing specific titles? Do you have staff, volunteers, or student aides working at checking out materials? Have you talked to your administrator about this law? For more information and support contact your district or State School Library Coordinator. (See Confidentiality.)

Copyright. “In the United States the copyright law provides that the owner of a property has the exclusive right to print, distribute, and copy the work, and permission must be obtained by anyone else to reuse the work in these ways. Copyright is provided automatically to the author of any original work covered by the law as soon as the work is created. The author does not have to formally register the work, although registration makes the copyright more visible. (See Circular 66, "Copyright Registration for Online Works," from the U.S Copyright Office. See http://www.copyright.gov/) Copyright extends to unpublished as well as published works.” –from  SearchSecurity.com http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid14_gci211841,00.html

It is the school librarian’s obligation not only to follow the copyright guidelines, but to inform others of them.The most instructional activity is to teach students from upper elementary on what plagiarism is and how to use citations appropriately and off, to give credit where credit is due. You can also post notices next to copy machines, teach students about appropriate use of electronic materials and distribute handouts about “Fair Use" to the school faculty and staff.”(See Copyright.) 

Diversity. Alaska has a diverse population and it is important that this is reflected honestly and fairly in the collection of your school library. Alaska history and culture are of primary interest but you will want to include materials on other groups as well. (See Alaskana.) Consult professional publications to ensure that your collection reflects diversity and multiculturalism.

Scheduling: Fixed vs. Flexible. This is a hot button in some school districts. School librarians and researchers are generally in agreement that flexible scheduling is better for student learning but there is a great deal of resistance to this by some teachers, administrators and unions. You should be aware of this dispute and understand the arguments on both sides.

Technology. Librarians have traditionally been leaders in the utilization of technology, particularly as it applies to education. That is why it is critical to keep up with changes in technology. Professional literature, websites, organizations, news outlets and listsrvs are good sources of where to go for up to date information. (See Technology in Schools; Associations and Organizations.)


Taking Action

Now you are ready to accept the call to action and lead the way. You will be the information leader for:

·        Students

·        Administrators

·        Committees

·        Parents

·        Teachers

Students: Serving as a resource person for students means that they will come to you for their information needs for assignments, for topics of personal interest, and for suggestions for a good book to read. Showing them how to effectively use your library catalog and online databases will help them find what they need. NoveList (sled.alaska.edu/databases/home.html) is a wonderful resource for chapter books/novels by title, author, genre and personal interests. When on the Sled site, click on Elementary, Middle School or High School under Student Resources to reach NoveList.Newbery and Caldecott Award winners and other notable materials for young people can be accessed through the ALA/ALSC website (www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/index.cfm).

Other sites are:

Battle of the Books (www.akla.org/akasl/bb/bbhome.html)

Young Reader’s Choice (www.pnla.org/yrca/)

NSTA’s Outstanding Science Trade Books (http://www.nsta.org/publications/ostb )

Notable Social Studies Tradebooks for Young People (http://www.socialstudies.org/resources/notable)


Administrators. Your principal and other administrators may come to you for information. You can access the necessary information from within your library collection, from online resources, from other librarians, or from other agencies available on the Internet. You can demonstrate the importance of these resources and your professional service when you become a link to information for all the members of your school community.

Committees. Curriculum and textbook committees should have a school librarian member who can keep the resources of the library and the librarian in the planning mix. What does the library have available to support educational plans? What will it need to support existing and new programs? If you volunteer for these committees you can add to the discussion and contribute to an integrated approach to planning.

Parents. Parents can provide support for the library by volunteering to help with day to day operations, donating materials and equipment, fundraising to support the library and its programs and general support for the library program within and outside the school. They can also be powerful allies in the community and with governing groups such as School Administrators, School Boards, Community Councils and Legislators. You can provide information to parents and parent groups and support their activities with library resources. Joining parent groups and participating in their activities opens communication and cooperation.

Teachers. To effectively work with teachers you must remember that you are also a teacher. You need to be familiar with the curriculum and with the style and approach of other teachers. Become familiar with the curriculum guides for your District and visit in classrooms whenever possible. You will learn a lot by observing teachers and classes. Ask your staff when it is convenient to observe in their classrooms. Knowing what and how the teachers are teaching will assist in choosing materials for the library collection and putting appropriate library resources in the hands of staff. You will also be able to recommend websites and other electronic resources that will support classroom learning. Informal and formal contact with your staff on a regular basis will help you forge strong, creative, educational bonds and allow you to build your library collection into a useful and enjoyable resource for your teaching staff as well as your students.

The last step in taking action and educating and advocating is to be proactive in promoting your collection, your program and your expertise. Positive public relations within and outside your school will build and enhance the reputation of your library. Believe in your product. Believe in yourself. Advocate for your library. And, above all, remember how lucky you are!




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