Collaboration Strategies for Library Media Programs

Instructor: Susan Graziano

Susan has taught high school English and has worked as a school administrator. She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Effective collaboration with members of your school community promotes successful programming. In this lesson, you will learn ways in which you can collaborate with stakeholders to develop, implement, and evaluate your library media program.

Making the Media Center Matter

Leslie is a library media specialist. When you walk inside of her media center, you often see a variety of activities. You will find students independently reading on bean bags in the reading nook corner. Undoubtedly, you will see several students using the available computers. Student art projects adorn the walls. Several bulletin boards are decorated with informative displays, which connect to interdisciplinary units currently being taught in each of the grade levels. Often times, you will find Leslie co-teaching a lesson with a classroom teacher, helping students navigate potential resources for their current assignments.

Leslie is viewed as a valuable asset by administrators, coworkers, and students. However, this scene did not take place overnight. Leslie knew the value of collaboration in developing a successful library media program. The following are some tips that can help you foster a collaborative culture inside of your media center.

A Media Center Motto
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What Is Collaboration?

Collaboration is defined as a team of individuals working interdependently toward a shared purpose or vision. The team can be as few as two individuals and as many as hundreds of individuals. In the school setting, you will see a wide variety of collaborative efforts. Content area or grade level teachers often collaborate to plan lessons or units of instruction. Committees are developed to help schools continually improve. Teachers work together to co-teach lessons.

So, what does this have to do with you and your role as a library media specialist? Quite honestly, you can be a part of each one of these collaborative scenarios. The following are some tips regarding how you can work collaboratively to achieve your goals as a library media specialist.

Collaboration in Program Development

As a library media specialist, you have many aspects to consider when you are developing your program. Below is a list of collaborative practices through which you can achieve your goals.

Develop a vision statement

A vision statement is typically a few sentences in length and addresses what you would like your library program to ''look'' like. Your vision statement should be tied directly to school and district goals. In order to accomplish this, you should be getting feedback and approval from school leadership teams. You should also have a variety of stakeholders (colleagues, parents, students, community members) check it out and provide input annually.

Develop an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning

Media centers are designed to act as information sources. Inquiry-based teaching and learning is guided by questions. Students come in with a question and leave with an answer. In order to make sure that your resources are appropriate and current, you must collaborate with students, teachers, parents, leaders, and community members.

Be proactive when developing your program

Your library media program should complement the curriculum. Collaborating with teachers is essential in order to make this happen. Ask to sit in on grade level or department meetings. Ask to serve on any of the curriculum committees available. You should make yourself as familiar with the curriculum as you can. In doing so, you will be able to assist staff members and students access the appropriate resources.

Develop helpful resources

You likely have subscriptions to many underutilized resources. Consider compiling easy ''quick reference'' guides for staff, students, and their families. For example, you could create a research guide for students conducting any type of research. You could include a staff link on your website, which includes access to information sources related to each content area. The key here is to know your students and staff, know the curriculum, and know which resources to highlight.

Plan to Co-teach

Co-teaching is sharing the responsibility of delivering the curriculum. Not all teachers are going to be comfortable with technology. Send out communication to the staff offering your assistance. If the History teacher is teaching a unit on the Civil War, offer to compile resources that might appeal to his or her students. Even better, offer to co-teach a lesson in the media center. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely your colleagues will utilize you as a resource.

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