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Hidden Assets

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

The Real Value of a Certified Teacher-Librarian

Guest Author: Jan MacWatters

When budgets are stretched as tight as they normally are, and then along comes COVID, it’s easy enough to think that developing the on-campus library can wait.

There’s a local public library.

Your school does the annual book fair fundraiser.

Students have books in the classroom.

But not every parent is able to take their kids to the public library.

Not all homes are filled with a wide variety of books.

Research shows that student learning is positively impacted when they have frequent access to a well staffed school library. Creating and staffing a library is a high cost item.

It may be a start to gather a collection of donated books, or to write a grant to purchase more books; it may even be tempting to think the collection can be managed by volunteers. But the cost of not having a school library may actually be higher because of the impact on learning. It’s important to know that today’s certified teacher-librarian comes with some hidden talents that will turn your library, whether it’s a physical or a virtual space, into an extraordinary place of learning for your students and your staff.

A. We teach students to walk in other people’s shoes.

Students who read a lot learn how to view the world from multiple perspectives. Whether it’s historical, climate or realistic fiction, students have a window into a world that is not their own. Fiction, non-fiction, memoirs and biographies all provide additional worlds for students to explore.

The teacher-librarian:

  • Curates a collection of engaging books that support and promote the reading goals of your school.

  • Keeps up to date with newly published books.

  • Collaborates with classroom teachers to ensure that each student has access to just the right book at just the right time.


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B. We help students manage information overload.

The teacher-librarian is a digital information specialist trained to teach students how to locate and evaluate information without being overwhelmed.

Students will:

  • Learn to navigate an online proprietary or public database.

  • Evaluate a website for accuracy and authority.

  • Navigate the tsunami of information to locate just what they need.

  • Understand when and how to create a citation.

  • Learn to use information ethically so that they avoid copyright and plagiarism issues.

Information and media literacy skills developed in the library are not only vital for college and the workforce, but also for a democratic society where every citizen has the right to vote, and the need to understand current events.

C. We integrate soft (baseline) skills into every library lesson.

A recent report from Burning Glass shows that two of the most important skills that are needed by employers today are:

  1. Communication

  2. Time management.

The teacher-librarian uses the library research project as a vehicle to help students learn how to:

  • Ask the right questions.

  • Plan and schedule a multi week, multi task project

  • Complete a project on time and to standard.

  • Prepare a wide variety of digital presentations to share their learning.

The teacher-librarian works hand in hand with the classroom teacher to teach and evaluate the communication and time management skills needed to develop the baseline skills for college and the workforce.

D. Teacher-Librarians are instructional technology specialists.

As the 21st Century library has evolved into a central place to consume and create information, the teacher librarian has also evolved. We are technology experts. We can help students learn to:

  • Code with scratch.

  • Create a digital presentation.

  • Use a green screen.

  • Write and publish a digital book.

  • Create an animated cartoon.

  • Create and edit a movie.

  • Create a podcast or a school broadcast.

A teacher-librarian can help staff and faculty to:

  • Curate the best digital resources for their subject area.

  • Create digital breakout rooms.

  • Create webquests and digital scavenger hunts.

Of course, each teacher-librarian will have their own special tech talent (or two) but those tech talents will make the difference in student engagement and learning.

The school library is integral to a successful school. Students do need access to books and digital resources, but more importantly, they need to learn how to use digital and print resources effectively. They need to learn the soft skills that employers are looking for, and they must learn to use technology effectively to increase their own learning and to become creators rather than just consumers of information. Access to a library with a teacher-librarian will help them to develop these skills. And don’t forget that access to a well curated library is the best tool to develop readers and writers, ready to take on the challenges of the 21st Century as lifelong learners.

No Budget? No problem! Check out my website and blog for up-to-date book reviews software recommendations and lesson plan suggestions, or sign up for a free online consultation to see how we can help you set up your library and get the benefits without the full cost of an on-campus teacher-librarian.

Jan MacWatters



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