The Role of Library Media Programs Across Subjects

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 are an integral part of a school building and serve as more than just the keeper of materials. A specialist collaborates with other teachers in the building to extend the library media program into all curricular areas.

Collaboration, Not Isolation

Jessica is a high school library/media specialist. She already has her physical library space well-organized and students visit the library on a regular basis for information research as well as technology help. Next up is to begin working with teachers.

Library media specialists today are tasked with not only managing and organizing a well-run and diverse library, but collaborating with classroom teachers, administrators, and instructional staff to integrate library media skills into all aspects of the curriculum. Library knowledge has extended beyond the Dewey Decimal System and rows of encyclopedias to digital research, databases, web tools, and ebooks.

Common Core standards mandate increased writing and literacy skills across the curriculum and include benchmarks for library media specialists to integrate into the classrooms in three areas:

  1. Information literacy- both print and digital research skills and tools.
  2. Technology literacy- smart and safe web searching, accessing and evaluating digital tools and resources.
  3. Media literacy- analyzing and evaluating media, utilizing media in a variety of formats.

In addition, librarians often collaborates with or act as:

  • an instructional coach, a teacher leader who serves as an instructional resource to a teacher to impact student and teacher performance.
  • a technology coach, a teacher leader who works with classroom teachers to implement the use of instructional technology.

It's a rewarding job and the key is collaboration with teachers.

Collaboration: When and How?

Knowing that collaboration is the ultimate goal, Jessica decides to first familiarize herself with what is being taught at her school and looks at an overview of standards. She then works on building relationships with teachers and learns what they are working on, what their biggest challenges are, and offers ideas to help them in their classroom.

Jessica wants teachers to see the library/media area as a place that can help them with their classroom instruction. She helps them know the resources available and services that can be provided, such as content area specific databases, lessons on research in a specific discipline, and digital skills and technology. She attends department and curriculum meetings to offer suggestions and learn what is being taught.

Professional Development Across All Subjects

Jessica's principal has asked her to provide professional development for teachers. Where does she begin?

She knows that while whole group professional development is important, professional learning has more of an impact in a smaller, more targeted group. Providing tools and resources for the Science department is going to look different than resources for the Social Studies department.

Consider the following when providing trainings across all subjects:

  • Be specific - letting staff know that you have databases isn't enough to entice teachers to use them. Provide a hands-on training on scientific journals for the Science department or culturegrams for the World Language Department.

  • Show examples - using your personal learning network and web resources, show examples of projects and curriculum integration using digital tools and research. Training the Social Studies department on webquests? Create a smaller webquest that walks them through library resources.

  • Ask questions - ask teachers what they want to learn and what they need. Is the Math department finding difficulty in integrating writing into their curriculum? Come up with examples and specific lesson plans to co-teach classes for them.

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