Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Evidence-Based Practice: A Practice towards Leadership Credibility among School Librarians

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Evidence-Based Practice: A Practice towards Leadership Credibility among School Librarians

Article excerpt

This paper examines the potential influence of evidence-based practice (EBP) in school libraries in affirming the role of the school librarian as leader. We begin with an examination of the most recently added role of effective school librarians, that of leader, and provide an overview of the current interpretation of this role. We then proceed with an introduction to the use of EBPs in school libraries, with an emphasis on the relationship of EBPs to student achievement. We articulate a potential relationship of EBP to building leadership credibility among school librarians by presenting examples of the use of EBP in linking student achievement to school library programs.


In 2009, Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs (AASL, 2009) formally introduced the role of leader for school librarians. Though leadership had been a focus for librarianship in previous standards (AASL & AECT, 1998), this focus as a primary role to encompass all others was a new stride. School librarians were not just to see themselves as partners and collaborators, but a model and example for other teachers in teaching and learning, particularly in the areas of reading, technology, and curriculum collaboration (Dees et al., 2007; Everhart, 2007).

As school librarians begin to focus increasingly on their role as leader, almost in parallel, has been movement toward evidence-based practice (EBP) in school librarianship. School librarians are focusing less on the need to collect statistics on school library media program outcomes and more on student outcomes and how teaching information literacy is of benefit to student achievement (Geitgey & Tepe, 2007; Gordon & Todd, 2009). As accountability and assessment become increasingly pervasive in teaching and learning, school librarians must be able to show the effect their programs have on student outcomes. They must show evidence of their practice and the ways in which their practice affects their students.

These two phenomena - the focused prominence of the leader designation to school librarians and the awareness of EBP and its importance in school librarianship - should not be treated separately. School librarians can demonstrate leadership through EBP. By providing artifacts of collaborative work; assessments on information literacy; and portfolios of student progress on other offered programmatic elements in school library programs; school librarians can demonstrate their effectiveness and abilities as leaders in schools in increasing student achievement. In this paper, current research and understanding of both leadership and EBP will be discussed. Two case studies are described as examples of how EBP can provide a demonstration of leadership by school librarians and how that evidence can affect future practice.


The leadership responsibilities of school librarians were a focus of professional guidelines before the introduction of leader as a formal role in Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs (AASL, 2009). In Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (AASL & AECT, 1998), school librarians were encouraged to demonstrate leadership in collaboration with other teachers through building teams for learning, promoting and providing professional development, and by recruiting others into the profession. In Information Power, leadership is a part of the underlying vision of the school library program that affects all the roles of school librarians:

Leadership for the library media specialist involves 'leading from the middle' as well as assuming more visible, proactive leadership roles. This type of leadership includes coaching others to do for themselves, acting as a sounding board for key decision-makers bringing people together, and taking the risk of leading when the opportunity arises. (p. 53)

School librarians were to demonstrate leadership through collaboration with others and as the primary advocate and user of technology resources in the school (AASL & AECT, 1998). …

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