HOW you lead depends on what you read! Knowledge of best practices, current research, and useful ideas will help you do the following:
* Plan and develop an effective school media/ technology program.
* Be an effective, efficient, and credible communicator.
* Support your own professional writing and presentations.
* Be a leader in your school and district.
Among my reading favorites are the books, journals, and Web sites I turn to frequently for reference or inspiration.
Jean Dohnam's Enhancing Teaching and Learning: A Leadership Guide for School Library Media Specialists (New York: Neal-Schuman, 1998) is a must-read for both inspiration and practical ideas about our role as teachers and collaborators.
Frequently, I refer to my dog-eared copy ?ι Foundations for Effective School Library Media Programs (Libraries Unlimited, 1999). Edited by Ken Haycock, Foundations is a compilation of 39 papers that addresses the critical elements of successful programs. (The articles are not new, but the concepts and research are relevant.)
An annually published compilation of articles that is worth a look is the Educational Media and Technology Yearbook (Libraries Unlimited). Each edition covers trends and issues and school library media programs. It also contains a mediagraphy and information about graduate programs and professional associations. Articles are written both by practitioners and by higher-education personnel.
It is imperative for all media specialists to be fully informed of media-program impact studies. Powering Achievement: School Library Media Programs Make a Difference, 2nd Edition by Keith Curry Lance and David V. Loertscher (Hi Willow Research & Publishing, 2002) compiles data from studies of more than 3,300 schools in eight states. Additionally, there are scripts for short presentations, reproducible charts and handouts, and links to downloadable PowerPoint slides.
Need more information about the impact studies? Many more resources and freebies are accessible at http://www.lmcsource.com. The Library Research Web site has even more presentations and links to additional studies. It also has a bibliography and links to essential reading about the importance of school media programs, including articles published in newspapers and journals for parents and other educators, evidence that we are doing more than preaching to the choir.
Did you receive a copy of School Libraries Work (Scholastic, 2004)? This invaluable executive summary of impact studies in 14 states was mailed to more than 14,000 superintendents, principals, and AASL members. If you didn't receive a copy or need more copies, the 20-page report is available as a PDF at http://wwwscholastic.com/librarypublishing. It will provide you with the necessary information for explaining why we need school media programs.
Gary Hartzell's "Building Influence" columns are available in School Library Journal and are essential as the impact studies. Read them online at http://www. slj.com. (Browse by SLJ section to find them.) Even if you have already read them, these words of wisdom are worth a re-read.
Another must is The Power of Reading, Insights from the Research, 2nd Edition, by Stephen Krashen (Libraries Unlimited, 2004). Once again, the research (first published in 1993) documents the value of free, voluntary reading. In light of NCLB, classroom collection, and standardized testing, this book belongs in every media center's professional collection.
A Minnesota colleague often refers to the work of Carol Collier Kuhlthau. Among Kuhlthau's many publications on the research process is Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services, 2nd Edition (Libraries Unlimited, 2003). Another colleague recommends From Computers to Community: Unlocking the Potential of the Wired Classroom (Consortium for School Networking, 2000) because of its vision of how technology can build community. The book is by Ferdi Serim, former editor of this publication (when it was called MultiMedia Schools).
Carol Kearney's Curriculum Partner (Greenwood Press, 2000) is another book that emphasizes our instructional role. Kearney includes case studies in order to illustrate our roles as change agents in leadership, staff development, and collaboration. She also addresses important media specialist/principal partnerships.
A nice companion piece is Collaborating to Meet Standards: Teacher / Librarian Partnerships K-12 by Toni Buzzeo (Linworth, 2002). Buzzeo's work mixes theory with practical suggestions and real lesson plans developed collaboratively by media specialists and teachers. The lesson plans address both print and electronic resources.
Is it sometimes necessary to explain what you do? The Baltimore County Public Schools Web site offers "School Library Media Specialist Role and Responsibilities," a great two-page document explaining our roles as teachers, program administrators, instructional partners, and information specialists. I frequently give it to administrators and others because it so succinctly explains what we do in a brief, jargon-free format. It is available at http://www.bcps.org/offices/lis/ office/admin/roles.html. (The entire BCPS Library Media Services [http://www.bcps.org/offices/lis/office/ admin/] is a premier media services Web site and also worth a visit. It has a wealth of helpful resources for media specialists, including parent Internet education resources, staff development ideas, forms, and reports.)
Need more than two pages to explain what you do? "The Top Ten Reasons a Library Media Specialist Is a Teacher's Best Friend" by Jan Hylem (Clearing House; May/Jun2004, Vol. 77 Issue 5, pp. 219-221, Accession Number: 13437462) incorporates research with a practical view. The document will be very helpful for media specialists working with groups of new teachers or when speaking to pre-service teachers.
A journal that media specialists should not miss (in addition to MultiMedia and Internet@Schools) is AASL's Knowledge Quest. I especially appreciated the September/October 2004 issue with its "time to renew" theme. The journal is plumb full of short articles and tips to help media specialists stay in tune with the four areas of our jobs.
Effective leaders need to pay attention to the big picture. Knowledge of your state's curriculum standards is essential, and it's a good idea to pay attention to the professional journals that administrators read. This includes journals such as Phi Delta Kappan, Principal Leadership, and the NASSP Bulletin.
A technology-specific newspaper I look forward to receiving is eSchool News [http://www.eschoolnews. org], available both in print and online by subscription. eSchool News helps us keep up with trends, research, grants, federal laws, and product development. The articles are short, allowing you to stay current even when you don't have a huge chunk of time for reading.
Here are some comprehensive Web sites that belong in the "start here" category":
* The International Society for Technology in Education [http://www.iste.org/], with its links to technology standards, assessments, resources, and much more.
* The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports [http://www.pewinternet.org/report_display.asp?r=67], which are based on research and provide a glimpse of technology use beyond the school. These are worth paying attention to since societal trends impact education. The newest report explains how Americans are using instant messaging. Other recent reports address wireless and broadband access and rural Internet use. The reports are valuable when you need specific data and information to assist in planning.
* Need tutorials and templates? These Microsoft Web sites [http://www.microsoft.com/Education/SiteIndex. aspx] have extensive education resources. It will take some time to explore all that's there, but you might find exactly what you need when you or a teacher is looking for something in a hurry. Supplying a busy teacher with a time-saving template is always a way to shine and show that you are valuable. Go directly to http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/default. aspx to find Microsoft Office templates.
* The Apple Education Web site [http://www.apple. com/education/] is also extensive and has resources that are both practical and inspirational for media/ technology leaders. I recently found a great lesson plan for the study of tessellations that will be useful for our middle school math teachers.
Speaking of helping teachers, we cannot ignore our more formal staff-development role. Doug Johnson's Indispensable Teacher's Guide to Computer Skills, 2nd Edition (Linworth Publishing, 2002) is valuable for its topic-specific staff development workshop objectives and assessment rubrics correlated with ISTE's National Education Technology Standards.
Need a touch of humor? Then you'll also want to read Machines Are the Easy Part; People Are the Hard Part (Big Skunk Press, 2004), Johnson's "observations about making technology work in schools." These little tidbits may be just what you need to help you make it through a tough situation. The book may also serve as a source of great quotes for your own professional writing. Just be sure to cite your sources!
This list is not intended to be comprehensive; it is selective and only represents a few of my personal favorites. What books, Journals, and Web sites are your favorites? What's helpful for you? I'd love to hear.
Too many books, too little time. Information overload. The clichés are true for many, and it can be difficult to keep up with professional reading, no matter the format. When your journals arrive, take time to at least skim and mark the table of contents. When I find something especially significant, I make a note on the cover of the journal or mark it with a Post-it note. When an important electronic article arrives, I download it or bookmark it in my collection of "professional reading" bookmarks. Either way, I can retrieve things later.
You never know when you will need information for planning and implementing media program initiatives or answering questions from others. A firm background in professional reading is your arsenal of answers if an administrator, school board member, or, perhaps, even a reporter asks for information. Hone your leadership skills by reading. You won't regret taking the time to be prepared!
by Mary Alice Anderson
Load Media Specialist
Winona Area Public Schools
Mary Alice Anderson is a frequent contributor to professional journals and a conference presenter. In addition to working for Winona Area Public Schools, she is an online adjunct instructor with the Online Professional Development for Educators program in the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Stout [http: // www.uwstout.edu/soe/prof dev/issues/]. Communications to the author may be addressed to Mary Alice Anderson, Media Specialist, Winona Middle School, 1570 Homer Road, Winona, MN 55987; email@example.com; http://www.rschooltoday.com/winona middle/maryaliceanderson/.…