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3 must-have skills for today’s librarians

A district media specialist shares her PD program for preparing librarians to be school leaders in the 21st century.

Districts nationwide are looking for new and innovative ways to provide training and resources for their staff, all while keeping within a limited budget. What many administrators fail to notice is that their greatest asset is already in their building.

It’s the 21st century, and school librarians are no longer just “the keepers of the books.” Librarians and media specialists are highly trained, highly versatile staff members, whose scope of responsibilities spans all students and all subjects.

I represent library media specialists at the district level. This means that I am in charge of maintaining a district media committee for vetting district-provided digital resources, and I am also responsible for the professional development for our school librarians.

As the first certified library media specialist at the district level in this system, I have been busy building a strong standard of practice for our librarians. We embrace a train-the-trainer model when adopting new technologies or programs, so I make sure that our librarians have the training they need to not only implement these innovations, but to share them with their teachers.

I want our school librarians to be seen as experts in new tools and resources, so I teach all of them these three essential skills:

technology school

1) How to Introduce New Technology

During monthly department meetings, we spend time discussing how to implement new tools and technologies into our schools. We hear from each other about best practices, new ideas, and about what is working—and what isn’t.

The library veterans are getting this same information, but they are also given opportunities to pilot new programs and make recommendations. They advise me on policy and procedures, and provide their professional opinions as “experts on the ground.”

I often engage in PD that asks all media staff to stretch their thinking about what libraries do, the impact they can make, and how to expand their personal learning networks to grow and adapt with this quickly changing landscape.

The school librarian is no longer just the manager of a room full of books, but a resource and technology expert, reading teacher, curriculum designer, program administrator, professional development coordinator, information literacy teacher, and a school leader with a finger on the pulse of every classroom. A good librarian knows who is doing what in each grade level and subject area, and is ready with strategies, resources, and tools to help teachers make a deeper impact with their students.

Today’s school librarian is an active, integrated educator who knows how to teach, but also how to design quality programs, collect data on those programs, and assess student learning. Just like the classroom teacher, the school librarian has to hit the ground running every single day and make a conscious effort to stay connected to trends and issues.

(Next page: 2 more skills for today’s librarians)

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