Building Influence for the School Librarian

The primary goal of any school is learning. As effective teaching and learning theory has shifted from a teacher-centered to a student-centered perspective, the school library media program has adapted and has become more important than ever in achieving the school’s goal. The quality of library media programs is inextricably linked to the quality of education offered in the schools. Schools have evolved to focus on learning, and effective school library media programs have also changed their focus from collections to learning that engages students in pursuing knowledge within and beyond a formal curriculum. Having been apprised of the information needs of students through various meetings with the library director, it is obvious that the academic vice president had mulled over the solution for a while before presenting it to the library committee. She suggested that the library committee vote for proposal to be submitted to the academic policies committee, a committee that makes recommendations to the president via the administrative council. This proposal would advocate specifics relating to the inclusion of a library course for credit within an existing department. The course would be built around library research and critical thinking skills.

The lecturer would be the librarian. There would be close collaboration between the librarian and the dean of the faculty of humanities. She also verbalized, as did Buchanan, Luck and Jones, that time involved in such a process was significant enough to warrant that the task should not just be added to regular responsibilities of the library director “ any more than classroom faculty should teach an overload class without some compensation in either time or money” (162). Therefore, monetary compensation was advocated. Thus, the vision was shared land the goal seemed attainable. The main objective was the development of the students into critical thinkers who would be able to distinguish between the true pearls and those glittery paste jewels that dissolve upon close examination. Students who were also able to, “swim forever in a river of ideas”. Librarian land lecturers would work together in the accomplishment of this objective. Library staff was tired of being inundated with requests from students mainly for material identified in a course outline or eluded to buy the lecturer. Valuable items in our collection remained untouched, not borrowed because they were not referred to by the lecturer either verbally or writing. Too much money was spent on material that was not being utilized. Simply because they were not visible outside of the library, either by students or lecturers.  In addition, the ever increasing importance of information technologies further spurred on the urgency for collaboration. It was obvious that face-to-face contact between librarians and the students, who felt that the internet was an adequate substitute for the library, was severely limited.

One student, in particular, had proudly asserted that she did not need the library since she could get all she wanted on the internet. This affirmation brought to mind a scenario in the literature of a student who relied heavily on what appeared to be an authoritative essay for her report on medieval practices. The report was actually authored by a radiologist with little knowledge of either the middle Ages or of premodern medicine. The students at the USC, and in some instances, lectures, needed help in navigating the information superhighway effectively. Yet, there existed serious constraints. How could such an idea be considered in the face of administrative demands that sat squarely on shoulders of the one professional at the library? Where would the librarian find the time to teach an entire course for credit given the reality of staff shortage, both professional and paraprofessional, faced by the library? The dean of the faculty of humanities refined the proposal. His solution was to have library research built into an existing mandatory course much relevant information. Strong relationships between students and the librarian developed. The library was now a visible and real component in their experience. In addition, the chief instigators-faculty-of library use had not only recognized but also verbalized the importance of the library to students. Although time did not permit the gathering of empirical evidence, a verbal assessment from the dean of the school of humanities and social studies. As advocated, librarians should not bear the total responsibility of raising awareness and demonstrating the possibilities for collaboration. The collaboration training during professional preparation programs was posted as a means of raising awareness of the needs of and ways in which educators can work together. While we seek to realize this dream however, and even amid the challenges, we must bear in mind that collaboration can happen with diplomacy and modeling. It can be done and must be done. Negative attitudes must be reversed. With the librarian, and by extension, the library can provide for lectures and ultimately students must be promoted. Librarians must be perceived as educational leaders. Librarians must take the lead and further educate themselves and lectures about positive outcomes. Librarians should inform lectures about the many contributions the can make to student learning. Embracing this perception and training lectures through workshops and programs could be undertaken. Librarians should work on improving liaison with faculty and not wait for the lectures to come to them, librarians should initiate this process.

In conclusion, the skills and knowledge that make you a technically excellent librarian will not alone make you an influential one. Changes in everyday activities will need to be made since. Going outside the library and into the school must be part of our business as librarians. Our stage must be widened. Librarians should be part of, if not, a member of faculty, and attend meetings as well as serve on communities. Li0brarians should build individual relationships and get involved in fresh activities and other core courses, meet in classrooms and offices apart from their own, change the dynamics of encounters.

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