Technology is changing the role of the school media specialist from traditional keep-and-file librarian to in-house technology guru. At a time when budget cuts have become an unpleasant reality, however, media professionals often are viewed as more expendable than teachers or computers. Not to worrythe author recommends these eight ways to prove you’re worth your weight in gold:
1. Evolve. Media specialists need to broaden their scope outside of what goes on in the school’s library. “If a media program is going to impact the entire school, it must be part of the entire school; the emphasis [should be] on program, not place,” the author says.
2. Study. Become an expert on what the author calls “21st-century integrated information literacy.” The best media specialists are familiar with the latest standards from the International Society for Technology in Education and are proactive in their efforts to make the school’s library the research center of choiceeven for students who have access to technology at home.
3. Observe. Keep records of how students are spending their time in the media center. “Statistics are helpful,” the author says. “But not if the focus is only on circulation and budgets.”
4. Share. Media specialists should not be “keepers of stuff.” They should view themselves instead as vehicles for the sharing of information, with less emphasis on inventory and more on the spreading of knowledge to both teachers and students.
5. Don’t whine. “Budget cuts are especially not the time to whine or justify your role and program,” the author says. “By then, it’s tool late.” Instead, present any concerns you have about the program in a carefully planned and well-organized presentation. According to the author, administrators often are open to the “timely sharing of information.”
6. Be career-minded. Media specialists should evolve along with the technology and embrace changing trends in the interest of furthering their careers. “Become involved with anything that will bring more technology to the media center and provide more access to students,” the author says.
7. Strive to be competent. Run a tight ship. The author gives the example of an administrator who says she has never cut a media position but has been forced to eliminate employees because of poor performance. “Good media programs and good media specialists are inseparable,” the author says.
8. Don’t get discouraged. Media specialists have endured and will continue to endure criticisms, the author says. But “only we can change perceptions about our role and appearance.”