Professional Growth for Library Media Specialists

Instructor: Kim-Kathie Knudsen

Kim-Kathie has taught high school and college Spanish and has worked as a professional development specialist and instructional technology administrator. She has a master's degree in Teaching and Curriculum and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Library media specialists play a valuable role in school districts and many are emerging as leaders in K-12 schools. Learn how to take advantage of leadership and professional growth opportunities.

Leadership and Growth

It's 8:30 on a Monday morning and you open your email inbox to find a multitude of emails from teachers and building administrators, asking for your opinion and expertise on research tools, STEAM makerspaces, digital literacy, and a new 1:1 program. In addition, your principal would like you to serve on a leadership team. Sound familiar? The job of a school library media specialist is not for the faint-hearted or those who are not willing to expand their knowledge base and grow as a professional. However, how do you grow as a professional in this digital age and keep up with library and digital resources in a variety of subject levels on many topics? In addition, how do you embrace leadership opportunities in your district and professional organizations? Learning where to find resources is often the first step.

Where to Start?

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Planning for professional growth can be an overwhelming process. If you start making a list of all topics that you don't know, the list may be too long to find a good focal point. Instead, a good first step is to join or become familiar with professional organizations in the field. An organization such as the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is a good one to join as well as your state's library association. These groups offer online resources; Listservs, which are email groups for professionals; conferences; and social media to connect with other library media specialists. Joining an organization allows you to find opportunities for professional growth, ranging from reading an article on the inclusion of iPads into the library curriculum to finding a day workshop in your area on a topic that interests you.

Search out library associations and groups on social media and follow them for free. Start by following the professional organizations you are a part of, and then expand your search to follow leaders in fields of interest to you. Take your social media participation to the next level and join a Twitter chat, such as #TLChat, a Twitter chat for teacher librarians that takes place entirely through a series of tweets, and #EdTechChat, for those interested in all aspects of educational technology.

Conferences and Workshops

Professional organizations will typically host a national conference, and state associations will host state conferences. Sometimes conferences may be difficult to attend due to distance, time, or budgetary constrictions. Look for regional conferences that may be hosted close to you and will have topics appropriate to the hot topics in your geographic area. When looking for conferences or day-long workshops, expand your search to include instructional technology or digital learning and ask peers in other districts for recommendations. Take advantage of online opportunities, such as live workshops through video-conferencing, or content downloaded so you can work at your own pace.

If you are ready for a graduate degree, look for conferences or learning opportunities, such as week-long workshops that offer graduate credits for attending. Some school districts will reimburse you for graduate credits and you may be able to apply these credits towards a graduate degree. A graduate degree in instructional technology, digital literacy, or library science provides you with embedded professional development that you can use in your school district. Programs range from in-person, online, and hybrid opportunities.

Leadership Opportunities


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