As seen on eSchool News

10 ways administrators should be collaborating with their librarians

By Nader Qaimari
president, Follett School Solutions
September 25th, 2018

Long gone are the days when librarians were simply the “keeper of books”

Whether a principal, superintendent, head of technology, or head of curriculum, there is likely a gem of a resource among your staff who could push your Future Ready agenda forward. Long gone are the days when librarians were simply the “keeper of books,” and the administrators who have grown to realize this have found it much easier to accomplish their strategic vision by mobilizing this dedicated and knowledgeable part of their staff. Here’s how many are doing it.

1. Librarians facilitate curriculum development and instruction.
With textbooks waning, districts across the country are exploring other options, including the curation of open educational resources and other content. Curation comes second nature to librarians, who have specialized degrees to help them determine what is relevant, credible, and effective. Use them to partner with teachers and curriculum staff to curate the right resources for your lessons.

2. Librarians are ninjas in digital citizenship.
With each passing day, the need to develop students who are more critical of what they find online becomes increasingly important. Through training, librarians can help students, teachers, and all your other staff become better digital citizens, potentially authoring guidelines, offering classes, and professional development.

3. Invest in the right digital resources.
Your library is likely the first department in your district to truly embrace digital, as databases have been procured by librarians for the last 30 years or more. Librarians are an excellent resource to help you evaluate the quality of a new digital resource, as they have spent years perfecting evaluation rubrics and likely can also outline implementation challenges based on experience. They can also tell you what you should, and should not, spend your money on.

4. Create collaborative spaces.
A modern-day school library is looking more like an airport lounge than what many of us may have been accustomed to. Students are sitting in comfortable spaces, talking and sharing. Schools have the opportunity to work with the librarian to create these collaborative spaces to promote better interaction between students, teachers, and other staff throughout the building.

5. Make, make, and make.
Whether you have a strong STEM focus or simply want to promote more creativity among students, consider adding makerspaces to your library. Librarians everywhere have been driving the makerspace movement, bringing technology such as 3D printing and robotics into the library for students to use. Makerspaces can also be low tech, with Legos and everyday materials used for creation. Students can then access content to better understand concepts.

6. Form community partnerships.
Do you have a strong relationship with your community library or other local organizations that could help support your agenda? Librarians can help. Have your librarian facilitate a conversation with the local community library so its content and programming is an extension of yours. Work with partners to create programs to highlight specific objectives important to you, including early literacy, STEM, and parent involvement.

7. Advocate for student privacy.
Again, as digital ninjas, librarians have been thinking about privacy forever. Put them in charge of your student privacy initiatives, ensuring staff has the professional development they need and remain compliant. Ensure vendors and partners comply, with librarians pushing that compliance.

8. Push your strategic vision.
Librarians are one of the few members of your staff who interact with every teacher and every student on a daily basis. Consider them to be your mouthpiece, helping communicate and promote your objectives through everything they do.

9. Provide equitable digital access.
Have your librarians ensure digital access is equitable to all students. Librarians can keep track of your digital devices, provide access points in the library, and form community partnerships to also ensure students have access at home.

10. Promote literacy.
Most important of all, no other member of your staff has the power to promote grade-level reading proficiency as your school librarian. Through the promotion of independent reading, with a focus of putting the right book in the hands of every student, to strong knowledge of intervention strategies and unique approaches to help striving readers, librarians live and breathe literacy. Use them to make sure every student learns to read effectively so they may read to learn effectively.

Truly, this list goes on and on. At Follett, we have been working with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure librarians are front and center when it comes to developing the next generation of Future Ready Schools. Our Future Ready Librarians initiative is now being implemented and discussed by more than 20,000 librarians across the country.

If you feel your school or district can benefit, spark up a conversation with your librarians about the framework and have them come up with a plan around what they could be doing differently and more effectively to support your strategic vision. In most cases, you’ll find they are up for the challenge and will appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate their value to the district. As your utility player, librarians will help you accomplish your goals and improve the lives of your students.

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