Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Transfer, Lead, Look Inward: Further Study of Preservice School Librarians' Development

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Transfer, Lead, Look Inward: Further Study of Preservice School Librarians' Development

Article excerpt

School librarianship is affected by the widespread challenges affecting schools and changing notions of school libraries' relevancy. The purpose of this study was to ascertain how these societal trends influenced educators' decisions to be school librarians. In this second phase of a longitudinal qualitative study, five school library program graduates were re-engaged four years after the conclusion of the first phase. Critical event narrative analyses of interview transcripts suggested that while their preservice education experiences prepared them to embrace school library and technology leadership, some participants chose not to pursue or stay in school librarianship and applied their preparation to roles as classroom teachers and school administrators. Many participants' choices reflected themes found in literature pertaining to situated learning, transfer of training, transfer of skills, and leadership development. In addition, the powerful presence of teacher acculturation factors and phases of career development affected the experiences of these school library preparation program graduates.

Keywords: school librarianship, leadership, preservice education, training transfer, skills transfer, critical event narrative analysis

School librarianship is a beleaguered profession. Despite the American Library Association's 2009 report that school library staffing had been increasing or stable for the at least a decade, of 875 school administrators surveyed in 49 states, 89% reported considering cuts to school libraries (Ellerson, 2010). In addition, 58% reported that they were unable to save school librarian positions in 2010 (Ellerson, 2009) and about 31% more of the same group reported that they intended to cut school librarians in their districts by the end of the 2012 (Ellerson, 2010). Key policy battles over school librarian retention have been fought and won in Washington, lost in Arizona, and continue in numerous other states. With only about a quarter of the growing number of charter schools including school libraries and few of those libraries staffed with certified school librarians (Keigher & Gruber, 2009), the professional outlook for many school librarians is grim at a time when their fostering of information and communications technology (ICT) processes and skills and multiple literacies is increasingly viewed as an essential aspect of quality education (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011).

Still, 62% of public school officials reported that they had at least one certified school librarian in their district (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2011). In many instances, these school librarians received their education and certification at a Master's degree-granting library and information studies (ML1S) program. Forty-eight ALA-accredited LIS programs surveyed by the ALA offered specializations or certificates in school library media. According to reports compiled by the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), enrolment in these programs is not yet changing significantly (Wallace & Naidoo, 2010a, 2010b), but the professional atmosphere of school librarians is changing dramatically (American Association School Librarians [AASL], 2011; Davis, 2009; Farmer, 2011).

The purpose of this study is to ascertain how societal trends influence educators' involvement with school librarianship by exploring the role that formal preparation played in helping school librarians prepare for this new employment environment. Five teachers who had become school librarians participated in an earlier study of their internship experiences (Mardis, 2007a) and four years after the participants had completed their MLIS degrees with school librarianship emphases, the researcher met with them again to discern the extent to which they gained the skills, knowledge, and desire they needed to be effective school librarians in the current climate of vital need and diminishing support. …

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