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The teacher librarian administers all aspects of the library media program. Some people say that you manage things and lead people.

juggle peopleEffective teacher librarians are dynamic educators. They share in the teaching and learning activities of their students and fellow teachers. They are a leader in working with their center’s support staff and volunteers to guide and evolve the library media program. They communicate with administration to align library center and instructional goals, to plan appropriate actions, and follow up with their implementation. They identify, design, and deliver needed staff development programming and support. They continuously evaluate, plan, and revise the goals and activities of their library media program.

An effective teacher librarian’s position is not a place to hideout or escape from student interactions. It is not an “easier job than teaching”; it is teaching - - teaching everyone. It is not a shorter work-day, far from that - - if it is done right! It is a people job replete with professional challenges that require lots of energy, communication skills, excitement, reality, and probably a good sense of humor.

eye means readRead Kaplan, Allison (Mar 2008). Is Your School Librarian 'Highly Qualified'?. Education Digest, 73(7), 17-20. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
The article examines the role of the school library media specialist, and connections are made between strong library media programs and student achievement.

School library media centers vary. Some are in small, rural schools. Many are in consolidated systems serving several adjacent communities.  They are in both public are private institutions. Some are in large metropolitan or affluent urban school systems. Conversely as the community setting varies, so do staffing patterns, position titles, assignment work-times, and the amount and types of library support personnel.

Take a quick look at the PSA videoclip below, featuring Joe Staley of the San Francisco 49ers as he reminds parents of schools without school librarians to "Ask Why?" (length 31 sec)


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What are job descriptions?

A job description describes the roles and responsibilities of a particular position. It may be very general or specific depending on the particular position. In some cases, job descriptions are consistent throughout the organization and are directly related to union requirements or salary scales. In other cases, they are built by committees seeking a particular type of person for a job.

eye means readAlthough not a job description for an opening, you can examine a list of duties for a school library media specialist, a library assistant / aide / clerk, a student aide / assistant and volunteers in the library at Library Procedures Manual: Personnel at Georgetown Independent School District, TX.

Explore a few examples of a school library media position job description:
Goals and Objectives, Library Media Job Descriptions (Includes media assistant and media secretary job descriptions) from the Howard County Public School System, MD
District Level Leadership for School Library Media Programs from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Sample Job Description - Title: School Librarian from American Association of School Librarians, Learning 4 Life
Library Media Specialist Job Description from Norman Public Schools, OK

Also read Johnson, Doug (June 2010). Would You Qualify? The Blue Skunk Blog.

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What's the best job for a school library media specialist?

Selecting a position based on a job description can be difficult. The posting rarely provides insights into the support of the administration or the warmth of the teachers.

Seek out positions that call for a certified school library media professional. Don't worry about whether the position is described as a school librarian, teacher librarian, or a school library media specialist. The formal term varies from school to school. You should be more concerned about the expectations of the assignment. Position assignments may be at a single building, a job split or shared between buildings, or encompass an entire school system.

Larger urban or metropolitan schools may have two or more library media professionals working together with support personnel. In this case, you would want to meet your colleague before accepting a position.

Many library media specialists are responsible for two, three, or more buildings. These may be all elementary schools or a K-12 responsibility. Dealing with multiple buildings is much different than working with a single building. Consider that your impact can be lessened because you can only be in one building at a time. If each building has its own principal, you must answer to two separate people and work under two different administrative styles. On the other hand, a multiple building assignment can be much more flexible than a single building. In addition, it's likely that full-time clerical support is provided.

eye means readRead Johnson, Doug (Mar / Apr 2000). Getting the Job You Deserve. Originally published in the Library Media Connection.
Two key ideas for getting the job you deserve; first, having the ability to sell yourself and second, choosing the right school, building, district, and administrator for whom you would consider working.

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How important is certification and licensure?

Library media specialists are professionals. As such, professional credentials are important.

The following web resources provide information about certification / licensure requirements and procedures. Examine those for Indiana (Find similar documents online for other states of interest):
Certification as Teacher of Library Media (K-12) at the Department of Library and Information Science, School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University at Indianapolis (IUPUI)
Office of Educator Licensing and Development (OELD) at the Indiana Department of Education
Indiana Core Assessments for Educational Licensure (CASA)
Licensure in Indiana can be met for elementary, middle and high schools - Supervision of School Library & Instructional Materials Service.

eye means readChurch, A. P., Dickinson, G. K., Everhart, N., & Howard, J. K. (2012). Competing Standards in the Education of School Librarians (Access requires login). Journal Of Education For Library & Information Science53(3), 208-217.
Note that currently many states have recently revised or are currently revising their certification requirements for school library media specialists (Or" school librarians' as ALA recently adopted).

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What are the trends in teacher librarian positions?

There are a number of clear trends in teacher librarian positions.

Budget Cuts. For those that are teaching or already working in school library media positions, this is not a news flash. Rather it is recognition that In recent years, budget reductions have pressured many school districts to make drastic program cuts. Sometimes this has severely impacted school communities and has radically changed or eliminated arts, industrial arts and vocational education, home economics, music, and foreign language programs. Often teaching positions have been reduced or eliminated. Sometimes administration has been consolidated. The impact of budget cuts to school libraries are reduced spending for library media programs, the reduction or elimination of paraprofessional staff, and the reassignment, part-time assignment, or elimination of library media specialist(s) positions. For example, the SLMS can be assigned study hall duties or teach courses.

eye means readRead (Jan 2010) It's About You, But It Isn't. Or Why Budget Cuts are Like the Shark Tank. School Library Monthly (Blogsite).

Also read Do We Need School Libraries? (Dec 2011) at ISTE Connects Blog.

Read Are School Librarians Expendable? (June 2011) from the New York Times
(Multiple perspectives and multiple pages: Read the Discussions).

In worst-case situations, professional library media positions have been dropped and clerical personnel have been left or substituted to open the doors and circulate existing collections.

Evidence Supporting Connection of Library and Achievement. As the same time that these budgeting and program staffing pressures have climbed, published research findings have continued to show that library media programs staffed by professional administrators have a significant positive impact on student achievement and school success.

The mandate to measure achievement quantitatively, usually by standardized test, is putting pressure on principals and district-level administrators. Most schools already have one available resource that has been proven to boost achievement levels—the modern school library.

Attrition in the Profession. Another trend occurring in the school library profession is the attrition of certified school library personnel as significant numbers retire and leave the work force. In recent years, the impact of this has been lessened by the elimination or consolidation of professional positions and in some U.S. regions, the relaxation or modification of certification/licensure requirements allowing certified teachers or displaced professionals from outside education to easily fill vacant teacher librarian positions.

Many schools function without qualified school library professionals or stretch such individuals to inadequately cover multi-building assignments or entire school systems. On the bright side for employment, there is and will continue to be a need for certified professional school library media specialists. Securing a job may require relocation to another region. Ensuring success may warrant that candidates be proactive in their job search, display a strong technology background, demonstrate skills of collaboration and information inquiry, as well as have successful classroom teaching experience.

Trends in Indiana

"The data gathered for AIME (2004-2005) indicates that a fulltime school media specialist at one building will be more likely to secure grant money, collaborate with the community library to extend programs and use of resources, provide access to more online information resources through a local website, and provide more frequent collaborative instruction (than situations where the media specialist must serve more than one building). Also, a SLMS is a little more likely to participate in AIME Media Fair and the Young Hoosier Book Award."
Daniel Callison (2006)

If you are serving as a fulltime school library media specialist at one building, in what ways might you document that you are “worth your salary”?

In tangible dollars:
Grants, book fairs, proposals to the PTA, collaboration with other teachers for departmental funds coming to the library media center / services

In intangible dollars:
More use of resources and technologies (more frequent use and better use); enriched curriculum

In semi-tangible dollars:
Access to more resources guided through other local collections and online

The data also show, as they have each time gathered in Indiana over the past 20 years and in other states, that there are fewer dollars per student, on average, invested in collections from the district’s funding when there is a fulltime media specialist in the building and a fulltime district media supervisor (because there are only so many dollars to around…more staff usually means fewer dollars for resources coming directly from the central fund…but more external dollars and more programs, because media specialists have time and encouragement to do so).

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What should I do if I decide to apply for a position?

eye means readSkim / explore the Wiki site - How To: Apply for a Library Job
Even though the site is slanted toward academic library positions, it contains good general information for seeking school library media positions.

Visit and explore the Careers Section at IUPUI Dept. of Information and Library Science. Employers can post positions to this website and students and alumni can access the listings. During this time of year, Fall semester, there are few openings for school library positions. The school year is already underway and most positions have been filled. Occasionally a mid-year or temporary substitute position appears. Also be sure to become familiar with the resources on cover letters, resumes, the interview process, and other job search help available. Find the area (Right side of the page) to submit and post your own Resume.

Note: If you are involved in a job search, it is good idea to consult with your advisors as you begin looking for that first or next position.

See if there are school library professional job openings (Below) and/ or descriptions (Above). Are there ones for multi or shared-building assignments? District wide or regional centers. Get an idea of the types of job positions that are currently being sought in the school library arena. Do you find positions in private, parochial or other than public?

Check for Media and Library Media positions at the School Personnel Job Bank at Indiana Dept. of Education.

Explore Library Job Postings on the Internet
by Sarah Johnson, Booth Library, Eastern Illinois University.

Also visit INALJ (I Need A Library Job eResource Center) and explore the resources. See if you can locate any open positions in school library media? There are usually a few if you search carefully. You may want to join them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Visit the About INALJ section and check out the articles section.

The ILS_JOBS_L listserv is available too. The purpose of this list is to disseminate job postings of interest to SLIS students and alumni. The list is moderated and is a broadcast list - jobs will be posted but there are no discussions. Because of the moderation, there may be a delay between a job opening that someone posts to the listserv and it appearing on the list. Again ILS_JOBS-L is open to all SLIS student and alumni. Learn more about it and sign up at ILS Listservs.

Don't apply for a position that you are not excited about - - then during the process, work to confirm that the job is as you expected, that your needs and skills match those sought by the employer.

Be proactive; that is if you are wanting to find a new school library position, then work on it all the time. Check for new openings. Look outside your current region. Be enthusiastic and patient, don't give up.

"My general advice is to be enthusiastic, confident and positive throughout the day but also make sure that you are a good listener. Be honest about your abilities and make it clear that you are willing / eager to learn and adapt. Be prepared to answer some of the same questions over and over. Prepare ahead of time to answer the basic questions such as why you want the job and what your strengths and weaknesses are. I often ask questions about how candidates keep current in their field. Do you, in your case as a new graduate, plan to read blogs / journals / books, attend conferences, join social networks? :-) Are you familiar with current standards in technology and information literacy? How will you ensure that the library is a '21st Century learning environment?'

If you have an opportunity to teach a group of students try to interact with them as much as possible rather than just lecturing at them. In my opinion, the class doesn't have to be perfect but it is important to see how you relate to the students and how they relate to you. Ask some open-ended questions and allow a bit of wait time for students to think of their answers. Call on a variety of students instead of just calling on the kid in the front row who raises her / his hand first. Try to find out as much as possible about the class ahead of time so that your lesson is worthwhile. At my school a teacher volunteers to 'give up' a class to allow the interview class to take place and it is very discouraging when the lesson is far from the mark.
"

Excerpt from posting made to the Teacher Librarian Ning (Mar 2008) by Maelene King, Minneapolis, MN

Even when the job market is tight, you can 'distinguish' yourself in the candidate field. Prepare and gather stellar examples of work and projects that you have completed. In today's market, most employers are looking for these to be in a digital format.

eye means readExamine the portfolio of a library media professional, Gwyneth Jones.

Read Lee, Susan (Apr 2002). The Interviewing Process Broken Down. LIScareer.

Also read Limipitlaw, Amy and Schaafsma, Roberta (2003). Job Interviewing Resources (document download - scroll down the page to the clean text). American Theological Association.

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More about the Interview Process?

Be prepared before going to any interview. Interview questions may include some along these lines:

What would you do if a parent came to you demanding a book be taken off the shelf?
What is your collection development strategy?
How do you choose what materials to buy?
Describe your teaching strategy.
Once hired, what is the first thing you would do in the library?
How would you go about assessing the references collection and other resources within the library?
Why are you interested in being a teacher librarian?
How would you handle a defiant student in the library?
What type of lessons would you design for the students visiting the library?
What kinds of modifications will you make for a student who is struggling?
How would you work with / collaborate with other teachers, staff members, administrators, etc?
Are you comfortable with presenting professional development related to library media, technology?

Gain as much information as you can about the job and its location before the scheduled interview. While you are there, you should interview the employer (some of this is done overtly). An interview should give you a chance to determine whether you and the school staff are compatible. The employer will expect you to have questions but much can also gathered by close observation . . . and know when to turn a job offer down.

During the job interview process, relax and be yourself.

You are prepared, you have skills that are needed to be a successful school library media professional.

eye means readRead Hartzell, Gary (May 2002). Finding the Right Address (Access requires login). School Library Journal; 48(5), 33. Retrieved from MAS Ultra - School Edition database.

Read Librarian Interview Questions (PDF document) from the New York City Department of Education Library Services
Provides a list of suggested questions and possible responses to use when interviewing potential library media specialists.

Read Frequently Asked Interview Questions from the School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina

Also read Johnson, Doug (Apr 2010). Top 10 Interview Questions. The Blue Skunk Blog.

"If you are sending out job applications, you may have sent out a bunch and now are waiting to see what happens.

Don’t think, I will wait to see before I send out more.

Hiring processes can sometimes take a very long time . . . You can’t wait to see what happens. Remember that even if you are a really good candidate . . . even if you get an interview . . . you may still end up being # 2 rather than # 1. (Schools) almost never have just 1 good candidate for a job. Sorry, but you will get turned down even for jobs you are qualified for.


That is, take the criteria that applied when you sent out that first wave (location, job responsibilities, requirements), and keep sending applications to jobs that match what you are looking for, even when you are waiting, and when you are interviewing, and when you are waiting after interviews. You can cancel applications AFTER you have accepted a job.

(Do not go on an interview that you have absolutely no intention of accepting. It wastes their time and even if you don’t worry that it is unethical, word tends to get around and your reputation will suffer)
"

Good advice on the job search process. Excerpted / adapted from a posting recently made by Dr. R. Applegate (Oct 2010) to the SLIS-INDY listserv.

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Check Your Understanding

Anonymous conversation overheard at a state school library conference a few years ago - - went something like this:
"When you have 150 resumes to sort through, you are looking for some reason to weed (some of them) out. So that means that if you have one résumé with typos or other careless errors, another with a cover letter that shows no connection to the job as advertised, and someone else with no sign of homework done about the school district and school they are applying to . . . those don't make it through the first cut."

If needed, get someone with expertise (your advisor, a trusted friend or colleague, an experienced school librarian) to look over and critique your résumé and cover letter before you send them out.

information powerInformation Power: Program Administration - Principle 2.

In every school, a minimum of one full-time, certified/licensed library media specialist supported by qualified staff is fundamental to the implementation of an effective library media program at the building level.

Using the examples as a guide. Write a job description for your dream position. While this page should be realistic and include the specific requirements of the typical job description, it should also incorporate areas that reflect a forward-thinking school. This job description should fit on one page.

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Make It Real

wall hangingExplore current vacancies to get an idea of the types of positions that are currently available. Note the certification requirements and whether the position requires a multiple building assignment.

Create a list of questions you would ask before applying for this position.

Let's jump ahead here and say that you get the job that you wanted; now what . . . now really get yourself going in 'high gear.'

What are the most important things to do to get the new job and new school year started off right?

eye means readRead Corbo, Donna and Sample, Candace (Sept 2010). What Every New Media Specialist Needs to Know: These 10 Tips Can Help Your Career Get Off To A Great Start. School Library Journal.

Also read Johnson, Doug (Aug. 4, 2010). Starting Off on the Right (Tech) Foot. Blue Skunk Blog.

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Read More About It

Certification – School Library Media

50 States' Certification Requirements from the University of Kentucky College of Education
The site attempts to collect the teacher certification requirements for the 50 States.

Job Search to Interview Process

Career Center at the National Association of Independent Schools
Looking for a school library position in an independent school?

Learning About the Job: What Does a School Librarian Do? from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

Nailing the Library Interview (Wiki site) by Joe Hardenbrook
The author includes lots of sample interview questions, questions for the interviewees, and many other resources to help in the job hunt process.

Praxis Series, The by Educational Testing Service
These tests are taken by individuals entering the teaching profession as part of the certification process required by many states(Including IN) and professional licensing organizations.

Recruitment to School Librarianship from the American Association of School Librarians

International SLM Position

Adams, Helen R. (2005). Have MLS, Will Travel Access requires login). American Libraries36(10), 54-56. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

International School Services (ISS)
Holds annual recruiting fairs, require a registration fee that makes one eligible to attend at no added cost, need to start process in late fall.

Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA)
Department of Defense Schools are for children of service men and women stationed in Europe and the Pacific. Application and instructions online.

Search Associates
A fee-based service that places teachers and administrators in International schools worldwide; holds recruiting fairs.

"working in an international school is a fantastic experience that I highly recommend. As long as you are willing to be flexible and don't mind giving up some of the comforts of home, it is a lot easier to get a job overseas as a librarian in an American or international school than you might think. You need your master's in library & information science, a couple of years of experience and a roll-with-the-punches attitude. You do not necessarily need to be certified . . . . I got both my overseas jobs through personal connections but the majority of people use one of these agencies (above). Many countries have limits on the number of years that nationals from other countries will be issued a visa to teach, which is why you will meet people with experience teaching all over the world in these international schools. Certain countries are in greater demand than others but no matter where you go you will learn so much more about that country by living and working there than you would as a tourist."

Excerpted from a posting to the by Liz Gray (Sept 2008) at S671 - SLMS Bridging Theory and Practice.

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