For me, the journey toward teacher librarianship has been surprising—surprising in a very good way. Having taught seventh and eighth grade English for seventeen years, I thought I knew what was possible in a school library. In short, I did not. The discipline is both more robust and more specific than I expected. I am discovering librarianship is more about a learning philosophy and less about the library space. More about collaboration and less about textbooks. I am just beginning to understand the directions a degree in library and information science will take me, and I am delighted that there is still so much for me to learn.
Where I Am Now
Since enrolling in San Jose State University’s School of Information in the spring of 2014, I’ve completed twenty-two units. I have nine more units, including field work, until I can apply for a teacher librarian credential in California and then several more classes before earning the MLIS degree. It is a long road for me because I will be teaching full-time throughout.
For the first year and a half of the program, I taught English full time. Now, I’m working 80% time as an instructional technology coach and 20% time as an English teacher. On top of that, I am honored to be a teacher consultant—facilitating professional learning surrounding literacy instruction—with UC Santa Barbara’s South Coast Writing Project. Basically, I’m busy, but I love what I’m doing.
Here’s the important part: The knowledge and skills I am gaining from the teacher librarianship pathway in the School of Information Science are enhancing what I currently do as an English teacher, technology coach, and teacher consultant. Every course has prompted me to see a new connection between literacy, technology, and information science.
Where I Want to Go
I still have a long way to go. Looking ahead, I plan to learn more about young adult and children’s literature, website design and other relevant digital technologies, and specific collaboration and leadership strategies for librarians. Recently I came across a Capstone Publications video (2014) titled School Libraries Matter: The Changing Role of the School Librarian. The teacher librarians in this video illustrate how I want to be when I have my own school library.
As noted in the video, school libraries are “in crisis.” This issue may be especially bad where I live. According to the California Department of Education, only 9% of public schools are staffed by credentialed teacher librarians. I believe this can change. Teacher librarians are uniquely placed to provide literacy and technology instruction to all students on campus. We can also take a leadership role in designing professional learning for staff. With some creativity and drive, the library can truly become the learning hub of the school.
#SchoolLibrar(ians)Matter: iSchool Scholarship Video