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Principals Know: School Librarians are the Heart of the School
Dr. Judi Moreillon and her Texas Women’s University colleague, Dr. Teresa Starrett (who teaches preservice principals in Educational Leadership), just launched the powerful crowdsourced film, Principals Know: School Librarians are the Heart of the School.
The 5-minute film features administrators around the country describing the value of the teacher librarian in school culture.
I asked Judi for some background. She shared,
Teresa, a former principal, has experienced the high impact of the school librarian’s passion for learning on her campus. I did not have to “sell” her on school librarianship!
Teresa has been gracious and eager for me to share a workshop each fall with her preservice principal students: What Every Principal Should Know about Evaluating a School Library Program and a School Librarian: http://whateveryprincipal.pbworks.com/w/page/31235176/FrontPage
Through our conversations about this workshop, we understood our shared commitment to helping preservice principals understand the value of having a full-time state-certified school librarian as a member of their leadership teams.
Teresa and I set out to develop a video exclusively with principal testimonials in order to show her students and my preservice school librarian candidates the importance of the principal’s perspective on the school librarian’s contribution to learning and teaching. This advocacy video was funded by a grant from the Texas Library Association, Demco, and Dean’s Grant Funds from the College of Professional Education at Texas Woman’s University.
In the video, we wanted representation from across the country. I solicited video contributions from school librarian colleagues at last fall’s AASL conference and at ALA Midwinter. They captured the video on location and shared it with us. This crowdsourced video is the result.
Our intention is that our colleagues across the country in education and school librarianship will promote this video on their social media networks and use it to advocate for the essential work of librarians in 21st-century learning and teaching.
In a response to feedback on the forum, Judi later shared:
I also think school librarians can benefit from closely listening to what these administrators say in their testimonials. No one gave them a script to read. This is what they know from first-hand experience working alongside leader librarians.We should make sure that every principal experiences the professional work of school librarians in these high-impact ways that improve learning and teaching in our schools.
Among the powerful quotes:
Having teacher librarians in elementary schools is essential.
Librarians now work with students and teachers as an information agent.
They teach teachers how to be better at their craft.
I cannot imagine not having an information literacy professional in my building . . .
Teacher librarians are the heart of the school and without a teacher librarian, there is no central focus on literature.
The true indication of the value of our school librarian is found in the excitement that our students experience when visiting our library. It’s an obvious result of the librarian’s passion, making literacy a priority for all content areas in our building and all students and families.
School libraries and school librarians contribute in rich and diverse ways to the intellectual life of a school.
I’m a huge advocate for bringing librarians into the forefront and bringing libraries into the forefront of thinking about urban school reform.
Our librarian is a member of our leadership team. She assists with the decision making that the team has to do.
I am not really sure what we would do without that resource . . . I’ve worked in other systems where that is one of the first things that gets cut and I would be holding on to the library teacher kicking and screaming if they told me we had to lose that out of the budget.
About Joyce Valenza
Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza
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