I happen to work part-time as a library assistant in a middle school. I am amazed at the work required of the school librarian who is a fully licensed educator in Virginia with a degree in library science. I really don't see how a well-trained volunteer could possibly do all that she does as a full-time librarian. I've decided to list some of the responsibilities of this school librarian.
1. Distribute, collect, and maintain all the network computer accounts for students, teachers, administrators, staff in her respective school
2. Attend book fairs and solicit suggestions for book orders suitable for middle school students
3. Order, process, and shelve new books
4. Maintain a library website with book, magazine, newspaper, and reference resources
5. Keep a collection of over 10,000 volumes up-to-date, shelved, and ready for check-out
6. Enter database and use computerized software for checking in and checking out books
7. Handle book request forms
8. Check all returned books for damages and repairs
9. Repair damaged books
10.Clean all returned books and reshelve them in fiction, non-fiction, biography, graphic novels, short story collection, and reference areas
11.Maintain all AV equipment for checkout by teachers
12.Assist teacher in getting AV equipment and returning it to the library
13.Order and maintain collection of DVDs and distribute them to teachers for classroom use
14.Hold training sessions on how to use new digital equipment
15.Provide library periods for all English classes once every two weeks
16.Teach lessons in collaboration with teachers using various library materials
17.Order all library supplies
18.Plan, host, and oversee Book Fair yearly
19.Inventory all library holdings yearly
20.Handle student discipline problems within the library
21.Offer before and after school extended hours of operation for the library so students have added access to resources
22.Maintain two computers that provide card catalog software program for student/faculty use
23.Oversee 12 computers, scanner, 6 printers available in library
24.Put book jackets on books and replenish those that are worn
25.Send badly damaged books to book bindery for new covers
26.Serve as resource with knowledge of all types of books to share with students as they seek specific information
27.Read many of the library books to be familiar with content so she can answer questions related to individual books
28.Knowledge of Dewey Decimal System (fine detail)
29.Keep 6 bulletin boards displaying content appropriate for school and library activities
30.Provide and maintain professional library materials for faculty
31.Order all magazines, keep current issues in magazine rack, catalog old magazines in magazine archive
32.Order newspapers and keep current newspaper available in newspaper rack
This list does not include all the expectations of this librarian's job. I can't imagine a volunteer being as knowledgeable or willing to spend the hours required to cover this position.
I am strongly in favor of a librarian being a full-time, paid educator with proper professional licensing.
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Thank you for the vote of confidence, Lynne. I'm in an elementary school in West Virginia, where some counties do not have librarians in their elementary schools. In fact, some of our counties are opting not to have school librarians at all. I looked at your list and could add lots more to it. Elementary Librarians in my district are expected to provide planning time for teachers, which equates to at least two 30 minute classes per week. In my current school of 450 students, providing planning time is about everything I can do within the constraints of my work day. Teachers also expect me to be the Technology guru, fix all their problems and some would even have me do all their technology for them.
It amazes me that some of the counties in West Virginia are opting not to hire elementary school librarians. I am curious to learn how these schools are operating without librarians. I understand your frustration with providing teacher planning time as well as fulfilling all the responsibilities of your position. If your school is typical of many today, your library has computers which some teachers view as a school computer lab. In the library where I work, the librarian also has to handle technology problems. Since so many computers are in the library, teachers assume she is the technology guru. To her credit, she knows how to fix many problems, but that prevents her from getting other library duties completed.
What's really disturbing in your case is that teachers expect you to use the technology for them. As a former Information Technology specialist in a high school, I am a strong advocate that all teachers need to be computer literate and use technology to enhance instruction.
Thanks for your response. I hope that the elementary schools in WV have administrators who will reconsider how much it hurts the teachers and students not to have school librarians who can add so much curriculum support. I have a vested interest in West Virginia education because my teaching degree came from a West Virginia college. I did my student teaching in the high school in Elkins, WV.
I think the answer to this question lies in AASL's Standards for the 21st Century Learner. This document clearly shows the importance of the school librarian as a teacher responsible for the development of given skills and dispositions among our learners.
Time for a 2013 update. It is disheartening to report that many schools have eliminated the school librarian from their staff. Yes, dwindling budgets is one reason, however, I believe it is also a shift in believing that the media center is no longer the hub of information in a school. If we take a look, it is no longer necessary to "go to the library" to research, do homework, or study. Kids are mobile and with the mobile devices come the opportunity to learn anywhere and anytime. However, I do believe that the media center and the media specialist (aka librarian) do have a role in helping students reach their fullest potential as 21st century skilled individuals. The school librarian can provide guidance to rich academic resources, help students gain the research skills they need to successfully navigate the web, and haven meaningful discussions about the things students find and are interested in. The school librarian/media specialist is a school leader. This individual is well educated and stays abreast of new educational topics and research. They assist in planning for curriculum needs. Some have replaced a media and tech person with only one individual, oh, and toss in a literacy specialist too and an integration specialist...all of these roles rolled into one. Wonder how they are doing and if it is working?