The teacher librarian must develop collaborative relationships throughout the learning community. These partnerships are critical to the success of the library media program

group of peopleRunning a library media program involves collaboration with students, teachers, parents, and local community members.

An effective center administrator must coordinate programs and people, in addition planning and managing time, resources, and facilities. They must also be leaders and advocates for learning. These roles all require working with others to build a positive atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect.

What areas of the library media program involve collaboration?

Whether your integrating information literacy into the curriculum or developing a reading promotion, collaboration is essential throughout the library media program. But collaboration is one of the most difficult tasks for teacher librarians to achieve. However just because it is hard does not mean that it is impossible or not worth striving to reach a higher level.

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How are collaborative partnerships formed?

Think of collaborative partnerships as the process of developing a trusting relationship between two or more professional colleagues. Collaborative relationships are enabled by recognizing the varied roles served by individuals of the learning community (including the teacher librarian), modeling desired practices, acting proactively, and providing personal experience and expertise.

Connecting with the teachers, school administrators, public librarians, and other members of the community help a library media specialist building strong programs. In addition, library media specialist must form relationships with other professional educators and librarians for advocacy, buying power, professional development, and curriculum development.

eye means readBegin with reading T. Buzzeo's (Sept 2002) Disciples of Collaboration. School Library Journal; 48(9), 34. (Access requires login)

Also read these related articles:
Johnson, D. (2004). Proactivity and Reflection: Tools to Improve Collaborative Experiences. Minnesota Media.

Milbury, P. (May/June 2005). Collaboration: Ten Important Reasons to Take It Seriously. Knowledge Quest; 33. (Access requires login; link to abstract - click on PDF Full Text at left side)

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). Toward a Theory of Collaboration for Teachers and Librarians. School Library Media Research; 8.

Consider making logical connections such as the reading and language arts. Then focus on ways to build inquiry-based activities into other curriculum content areas.

Read (1) Position Statement on the Role of the School Librarian in Reading Development and (2) Position Statement on the Value of Independent Reading in the School Library from the American Association of School Librarians.

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How are relationships formed with teachers?

Some library media specialists find it easy to connect with classroom teachers, while others find this networking difficult. The key is identifying an approach that fits your personality. In some cases, a formal approach of scheduling meetings, structured partnerships, and joint planning is effective. In other cases, teacher librarians are more successful through informal friendships formed in teacher lounges, before faculty meetings, and in the hallways. The key is being receptive and proactive in making connections of all kinds.

eye means readRead Heard It Through the Grapevine by G. Hartzell in School Library Journal, Sept 2003; 49(9), 41. (Access requires login)

Also read America's Most Wanted: Teachers Who Collaborate by C. Brown in Teacher Librarian, Oct 2004; 32(1), 13. (Access requires login) This article identifies the factors that contribute to a successful collaboration between teacher-librarians and classroom teachers.

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What connections can be made with administrators?

A teacher librarian and the school principal must develop a strong relationship. The principal must be aware of your interest in being involved in all aspects of the curriculum. Many administrators aren't aware of the skills of today's school library media specialist and their interest in leadership, collaboration, and technology.

eye means readRead Put Yourself in Your Administrator's Shoes by D. Abilock in Knowledge Quest, Nov/Dec 2003; 32(2), 6-9. (Access requires login, ; link to abstract - click on PDF Full Text at left side).

Also read Ten Powerhouse Strategies for Educating Administrators by S. Brisco in Knowledge Quest, Nov/Dec 2003; 32(2), 37-8. (Access requires login, download PDF document).

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How can the school library and public library collaborate?

When a school librarian hears the word 'collaboration,' chances are they think about working together with teachers at their school or perhaps teaming up with a distant shool to work virtually.  Broaden this definition and stretch it to also include collaboration with your local public libraries and public librarians.

eye means readRead School and Public Library Relationships: Essential Ingredients in Implementing Educational Reforms and Improving Student Learning by S. Fitzgibbons in School Library Media Research, 3, 2000. (Access requires login) This paper explores the range of successful, cooperative relationships between public libraries and school library media centers.

Read Come Together by J. Jones in School Library Journal, March 2004; 50(3), 45. (Access requires login) School and public librarians need to join forces for kids’ sake.

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How do we show that our programs are effective?

eye means readExplore Collaboration (Navigation menu on the right side of entry page), a section within the Canadian Association of School Libraries' Teacher Librarians . . . Supporting Student Learning website.

Read an article about collaboration and the instructional role of the school librarian with teachers:
Harvey II, Carl (Jan 2010). The Teacher's Take, Part 2: The Instructional Role of the School Librarian. School Library Monthly.

Also read White, Senga (Aug 2012). Teacher / Librarian Collaboration - From a Teacher's Perspective. Senga's Space.

How do we show evidence of our collaboration, leadership, and use of technology. There are many ways to collect data. One way is by documenting your work with teachers. Explore some of the following Collaboration Forms:

eye means readRead Does Collaboration Boost Student Learning? by B. Lange, N. Magree & S. Montgomery in School Library Journal, Access requires login)

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Words of Wisdom

Whether co-producing an instructional unit or partnering on a reading initiative, collaboration takes planning. Read about the collaborative efforts of one library media specialist:

practicitionerIn the September issue 2004 of School Library Journal (Vol 50, Issue 9, p50), you'll find an article (The Rookie) I've written about how young School Library Media Specialists can work with veteran teachers.

Carl A. Harvey II
Library Media Specialist, North Elementary School
& former President, Association for Indiana Media Educators
(Carl was a recent President of the American Association of School Libraries)

North Elementary Virtual Library

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Check Your Understanding

Describe a project you might coordinate as a library media specialist. Brainstorm the different partners that might be involved with the projects. Discuss how you would you get these people involved with your project. How would you approach the potential partners?

eye means readAndy Plemmons, librarian at David C. Barrow Elementary in GA, posted a helpful article that focused on a recent collaboration project in his school: What Makes Collaboration Successful? (Feb. 24, 2010). He provides lots of practical ideas.

Colloaboration between librarian and teacher is a challenge. Many people use the label 'collaboration' rather loosely. Full collaboration is difficult. Most important is the need for recognition that effective school librarians must be integrally involved with students, teachers, and classroom learning. Their library media program must extend outside the library center walls and extend to classroom and even students' homes. Learning goes on during evenings, weekends, and holiday breaks.

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Make It Real

group teachersExplore the collaborative planning sheets found online. Combine elements of different sheets to build your own form. Be sure to cite the resources you used at the bottom of your form. Create a sample completed form using information from your experiences or a project you find online. If you are currently working in a library media center, try out the form and see what you think. Then, discuss why you think this form would be effective.

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Read More About It

Shayne, R. Teachers and Librarians: Collaborative Relationships. ERIC Digest, ED444605. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, Aug. 2000.
Defines collaboration, conditions favorable to collaborative partnerships, and references and suggested readings.

McKenzie, J. Reaching the Reluctant Teacher. From Now On, 1999.

Administrator Cooperation

Hartzell, G. Why Should Principals Support School Libraries? ERIC Digest, 2002.

Johnson, D. No Principal Left Behind. Mar. 2003

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