The teacher librarian is an integral part of the learning community. This community includes a web of individuals and groups from within the local area as well as around the globe.

group of peopleThe library media specialist must be part of the global learning community that includes the people within the school as well as individuals and groups who wish to play a role in building a world of life-long learners.

What is the learning community?

The learning community includes all of those individuals and organizations who play a role in nurturing lifelong learners. Members of society who are information fluent are able to meet the demands of a constantly changing world. Some of these people include:

eye means read Read Learning Community from Wikipedia. Also read Learning Communities as an Instructional Model (2003) by Jan Buffington, In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

Some members of the learning community are physically connected to the school while others are associated through local or virtual connections. As access to technology increases the physical needs of a school may be refined. For example, some schools in rural areas are now holding classes three or four days per week reducing the amount of time students spend riding the school bus. This increases the need for materials that can be taken home (i.e., books, videos, laptops), as well as the need for online resources such as distance learning courses. All of these things have tremendous implications for the school library media

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How is the library media program connected to the learning community?

Collaboration, leadership, and technology provide unifying themes guiding the library media program. Through these three elements, the teacher librarian is able to build partnerships with the learning community that will impact student learning.

Collaboration. The teacher librarian must work with others to accomplish the goals of the library media program. Whether planning instruction with teachers or buying decisions with the principal, the media specialist must develop positive relationships that produce lasting results. These relationships reach outside the school to include collaboration with parents, local agencies, national professional organizations, and colleagues world-wide.

Example - the library media specialist teams with the high school journalism teacher, a group of students, and the local cable television station personnel to develop a plan for a weekly school news program.

Leadership. By being proactive and partnering with members of the learning community, the teacher librarian can become an effective leader and advocate for information literacy and life-long learning. Leadership doesn't require being the chair of a committee or director of a grant project. It can be demonstrated in coaching, facilitating, nurturing, promoting, listening, recruiting, and taking risks. Leaders are visible contributors who encourage members of the learning community to take action.

Example - the teacher librarian notices the enthusiasm of a new teacher and encourages her to form an after-school book club. Volunteering the use of the media center and space on the center bulletin board, the teacher librarian nurtures the teacher by providing ideas and resources. When the club completes their first project, the media specialiss takes digital photographs and features the teacher and her students on the school website.

Technology. Through the use of technology, teacher librarians have a wealth of powerful information and communication tools available. From connections with professional colleagues and organizations to collaborative learning projects with children around the world, the Internet along with other technologies have made the concept of learning community possible. The media specialist must model the potential of technology and encourage it's use by others.

Example - the mayor may not be available to visit your school library, but he or she may be willing to answer the email questions of your students. Your children may not be able to travel to Japan, but they can participate in video conferences, access a virtual field trip, or have a virtual discussion.

eye means readThis section of the course contains the following related topics you'll want to investigate: Collaboration, Leadership & Technology.

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Check Your Understanding

info powerInformation Power: Bulilding Partnerships for Learning (1998) - "The library media specialist plays a unique and pivotal role in the learning community...the effective library media specialists draws upon a vision for the student-centered library media program that is based on three central ideas: collaboration, leadership, and technology." (p. 4)

Preview partial content online via Google Books at

Discuss an example of a project you could initiate in your library media program that would demonstrate your skills in the area of collaboration, leadership, and technology.

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Make It Real

working togetherInterview two library media specialists. Ask them to describe projects they've done the past several years.

Do they have relationships with students, teachers, administration, and members of community? Do they see a connection among collaboration, leadership, and technology?

Compare the two approaches. How are they alike and different?

Read More About It

Spence, Sue (2006). Invest in School Libraries to Create 21st Century Learning Communities. Principal Matters [Reprint], Australian School Library Associatio

Standards for the 21st - Century Learner (2007). American Association of School Librarians.
You can download a PDF copy of the eight-page, color pamphlet.

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