Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Teacher Librarians as Connectors to the School CEO

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Teacher Librarians as Connectors to the School CEO

Article excerpt

Forty-nine rural superintendents in two Midwestern states in the USA participated in a qualitative study to investigate how they utilized research and information expertise of teacher librarians to solve district challenges and opportunities. Researchers partnered with six Midwestern regional offices of education who helped facilitate the study's focus groups. Resulting data indicated that a majority of superintendents were not accessing the expertise of the teacher librarian. They were not familiar with the role of teacher librarians, nor were they familiar with the current research on the importance of school libraries and librarians in advancing student learning and student achievement.

Introduction and Background

The superintendent of schools is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the school district in the United States of America. With the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, greater emphasis has been placed on the accountability of superintendents to provide instructional leadership for the school district. "In the current era of legislated accountability, communities and school boards all would like to see better test scores" (Glass & Franceschini, 2007, p. xiv). School board members and community members expect their superintendent to be well informed on the latest research in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Incumbent on these expectations is the knowledge and skills of the superintendent to access both human and technical information and resources to make the best decisions for the school district. Not only must the superintendent have expertise in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment but also in the areas of finance, student services, facilities, maintenance, and transportation. Superintendents have, at their fingertips, highly qualified school and district teacher librarians who act as agents of knowledge and who can provide the superintendent with up-to-date information to assist in student learning and student achievement as well as overall problem-solving and decision-making.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell (2005) explained that despite the availability of a wealth of knowledge at one's fingertips through electronic media, the word-of-mouth epidemic fueled by people who act as "connectors" is significant in world events. The role school and district teacher librarians play as Connectors is significant to a school district's ability to meet 21st century demands for enhanced student learning. While our electronic connectedness absorbs our time and appears to connect us to all our needs, face-to-face contact and word-of-mouth connectedness continues to be an essential component in human relationships, which is a critical component in role of the teacher librarian.

Early in the twentieth century, school librarians were the Connectors who connected readers to books. Mid-century, librarians became known as library media specialists who connected students to a variety of media available in school libraries. Today school and district teacher librarians act as Connectors to informational literacy: their role is to advance informational literacy. School-based teacher librarians serve a vital role in assisting students to acquire 21st century skills and, through building collaborative, connected relationships with teachers and administrators, student learning is enhanced.

A plethora of research supports the positive influence quality school library programs and teacher librarians play in advancing student achievement (Ireland, 2001; Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005; Lance & Hofschire, 2011). Teacher librarians also act as Connectors to superintendents, school board members, and the community at-large. They can search out information for superintendents, help superintendents critically evaluate information, locate and use multiple technological resources, and together with superintendents, synthesize their findings to create new knowledge for decision-making and instructional programs. …

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