Contributions of Library Power to Collaborations between Librarians and Teachers

Article excerpt

A major goal of Library Power was to increase the collaboration among classroom teachers and librarians, The research reported in this article supports the conclusion that Library Power was successful in achieving this goal, Analysis of data from over 400 schools (including collaboration logs completed by librarians and questionnaires completed by principals, librarians, and teachers) shows that participation in Library Power increased the percentage of schools where teachers and librarians collaborated to plan instruction and to develop the library collection. Library Power also apparently increased the percentage of teachers who collaborated with the librarian in schools where collaboration already existed. Collaborative logs supported the conclusion that library skills were integrated into the curriculum at all grade levels.

One characteristic of the field of education over time has been the desire to do a better job of teaching children and adolescents. One of the reform efforts of the 1990s is to increase collaboration. As defined by Friend and Cook (1992), "Interpersonal collaboration is a style for direct interaction between at least two coequal parties voluntarily engaged in shared decision making as they work toward a common goal" (p. 5). Careful reading of this definition reveals several important components. Collaboration is a style, not a strictly delineated procedure. Collaboration mandates personal and reciprocal contact between the professionals involved. Collaboration involves two or more people of equal status, at least within the forum of the meeting. Librarians and teachers participating in true collaboration do so voluntarily, or at least willingly as the collaboration evolves. The final products or lessons designed benefit from the skills and knowledge of all group members. All the professionals involved are working to reach a common goal, which often ultimately is to benefit the students. In other words, true collaboration is a multifaceted, complicated process.

School librarians have been aware of the need for collaboration with teachers for many years. Both the 1988 and 1998 national guidelines for the school library profession in the United States recognize the potential value of collaboration between teachers and school librarians. Information Power: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs (American Association of School Librarians & Association for Educational Communications and Technology [AASL & AECT], 1988) details the role of the school librarian in curriculum and instructional development. Among other things, school librarians are urged to work with teachers to develop objectives, analyze learner characteristics, create and evaluate learning activities, identify appropriate materials, and assist in teaching the unit. School librarians are urged to "assume leadership roles in developing opportunities to work with teachers" (p. 37). Ten years later, Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (AASL & AECT, 1998) states emphatically that collaboration is one of three basic ideas vital to an effective school library program.

One of the main tenets of Library Power-one of the six goals for the program-is to increase collaboration between teachers and the librarian. Increased collaboration among librarians and teachers is essential if the librarians and libraries are to become more central to the instructional missions of schools. In theory, increased collaboration among librarians and teachers will produce more effective planning for instruction and more effective use of the library resources. By discussing and developing lesson plans and anticipated student learning with teachers, the librarian will be better able to order materials and to develop a collection that is aligned with and supportive of the curriculum. Teachers will have more flexibility in planning instructional activities by using the librarian as another teacher and expanding instructional activities into the library. …

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