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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is there a School Library Media Specialist in the house?

Dressed as a "librarian" for Halloween -
first year teaching, 1996

"Is there a school library media specialist in the house?" 

Yes...that would be me!  When people ask me what I do, I will usually say that I'm an elementary school librarian.  I know that will have them picturing me in the right place, but I realize that the image it conjures doesn't really paint a full picture.  Officially the term is "school library media specialist".  That's a lot to say, but it encompasses the broad range of responsibilities we fulfill in this role.  This week I'd like to give you a glimpse of what it means to be an "elementary school librarian"!

On Friday afternoon I was chatting with a kindergarten student who just started attending Ashaway School this month.  I asked her if she remembered who I was, and she happily responded, "You're the library teacher!"  I like that phrase, because it acknowledges that I'm a teacher as well as a librarian! All of the school librarians have a teaching curriculum to follow.  (You can see the Chariho Library Media curriculum by clicking here.)  Much of our time is spent on encouraging our students to become effective and critical users of information.  Outside of our own class time, however, we support our school communities in a number of ways:
  • We strive to support our teachers by collaborating on research and other projects.  This might include team teaching, gathering appropriate print materials, creating a "webliography" (a list of online resources), generating an appropriate note sheet or rubric, assisting students with accessing appropriate resources, etc.  
  • We are responsible for the maintenance of a resource collection that is used by the entire school.  We communicate with our SLMS colleagues when selecting materials (what's good/popular/useful) in order to offer the most engaging and effective materials that we can.  This is especially critical as we look ahead to integrating more technology (digital sound recordings, e-books, white board interactives, etc.) and updating our collections to reflect the integration of Common Core. Beyond selection, we must also catalog and process new acquisitions, maintain/repair items in the collection, and weed out outdated/unused materials.
  • We have a mission to assist teachers with their own teaching by providing curriculum resources beyond the limits of what is housed in our collections.  One way we do this is by sharing library resources between buildings, but we don't limit ourselves to what can be found within our own walls.  By attending various trainings/conferences, interacting with our staffs, and conducting our own research, the librarians are exposed to a myriad of online resources and teaching strategies that we share with each other.  (This week I'll be showing a fourth grade class how to use and access World Book Online, and next week I'm presenting a workshop for my teachers on how to access and download videos from Discovery Education!)
  • We are reading advocates!  Whether it's running a program like the Rooster Games, encouraging summer reading, engaging in a special program, giving a book talk to a class, creating a display, or simply conferencing with a student on what to read next, we are always trying out ways to motivate our students to read.  There is a special kind of joy that comes from creating - or feeding - a reader.
  • We are the go-to people in our buildings for assistance with technology, not only for lesson integration but even for daily trouble-shooting, training, and general support. You could fill a closet with all the different "hats" we wear in a day!
Thanks so much for allowing me to share this with you.  If you're a follower of my blog, I'm guessing that even before you read this you didn't picture the school librarian as someone who stamps books all day.  Still, I've enjoyed taking the time to give a "shout out" to my favorite profession!


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