Time and budget-saving School Librarians



Well I can't believe that it is nearly the end of another year. I hope that teachers can see the light at the end of the tunnel and get to enjoy a peaceful and restful Christmas holiday. (Ok, I know that those of you who have young children don't really have a hope of this but family time is just a good!). I thought I would send out this last blog post of the year now so that any teacher who is thinking about what resources they need for next term might just do something different in the New Year.


Many teachers talk about not having enough time to do what they need to do on a daily basis. Teaching, lesson planning, marking, after school clubs, lunchtime duties and the numerous meetings to name a few.


Finding new resources that go with the ever-changing curriculum must be difficult and way down the priority list for many. I'm sure sticking with old favourites due to lack of time and money is the way that many go. However, there are some really savvy time-saving teachers out there who know the secrets of a great school library and the importance of a good relationship with the school librarian.


Teachers who do understand the role of the school librarian head straight to the library when they are planning a new topic or want to revamp an old one. They know:-

  • there is a specialist who can find what they need quickly

  • that this specialist provides up to date books and online resources

  • that this specialist can support them and their students in the classroom if needed

  • that they can borrow these resources and not waste precious budget or classroom space on storage


However, there are many more teachers who really don't know or understand what the school library is about. Some curate websites and put them in a folder for their students to use; I wrote another blog post about using your school library catalogue to engage in digital literacy and how to use these websites more effectively. Other teachers even buy their own books for their classrooms... Something is seriously wrong here!

What if you are reading this and you don’t have a school librarian or even a school library and are not really sure why you would need one. Take a look at the Great School Libraries website to see what is going on in other schools. What are they doing that you can't because you don't have a school library with staff? It is a great place to start gathering information to start discussions in your schools.


Check to see if you have a local School Library Service (SLS). For a relatively small amount, there is access to a huge collection of up to date resources. Schools can update their library collections through borrowing resources from their local SLS and receive far more than they would ever be able to buy. You can borrow resources that go straight into your classrooms too. Check out what is available to your school


Having a school librarian or support of your local SLS is so much more than resources. Cohen, Poitras, Mickens, et al outline the five main roles of the school librarian as teacher, leader, instructional partner, information specialist and programme administrator and research has shown that the impact a school librarian can have is substantial.


"Study participants reported an average of 50% of students met or exceeded their highest expectations for a learning experience taught solely by the classroom teacher, but reported that an average of 70 to 100% of students met or exceeded the highest expectations for a learning experience cotaught by the classroom teacher and teacher-librarian." (Loertscher, 2014, p. 10).


If teachers are working alongside their school librarian or SLS they have the opportunity to bring the research expert into the classroom. Someone who can teach the skill of searching an academic database effectively, someone who knows the tips and tricks of searching online, someone who has time to keep up to date on the latest changes online. If teachers don't have time to do this then make sure your school has access to someone who can. In our increasing world of fake news and misinformation our schools need the expertise of skilled information professionals and if you have one don't let them go.


If this wasn't enough there is even more to working with your school librarian than meets the eye. The opportunity to engage in international collaborations whilst using library resources; is something that I never thought I’d be offering as a librarian working for an SLS. After attending and speaking at several teachers conference over the years I am aware of the growing expectation for teachers to use online tools to enhance learning and the need to open the door of their classroom. Many were excited about this but had no idea how to go about it. Many did not have time to learn how these online tools worked and certainly did not know how to find someone to connect with.


This was our perfect opportunity to add to our service. We spent time learning how to use specific online tools like Padlet, Flipgrid and Google Hangouts. We have worked on building connections and also supported teachers in the classroom to make sure it all worked.


This service provided the opportunity to support teachers in a way that not only saved them time but gave them something they were being asked to use within their classrooms. Integrating research lessons into these online collaborations allowed us to raise our profile, opened doors and added value to the service we offer.


Schools librarians are your critical friend, ally, time and budget saver and I can't wait to work with some of you next year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.


References


Cohen, S. Poitras, I. Mickens, K. et al. (2019). Roles of the School Librarian: Empowering Student Learning and Success. Date accessed 15.12.19. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/slssap/ncc-roles-brief.pdf


Loertscher, D. (2017). Microdocumentation of the Impact of Teacher Librarians on Teaching and Learning. Teacher Librarian 44(5), 44–47.

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