14 Tips on what to look for in a great library (and librarian)

14 Tips on what to look for in a great library (and librarian)

What should a principal expect from your librarian/media specialist? The library should be the “heart and soul” of a quality school. Notice, I said “should”. Not every school focuses on literacy and reading as much as they should, even though those topics are the basis of all learning. What can you, as a school leader, do to make sure that your librarian, or media specialist, or media generalist, etc… (I’ve had several different preferences among my past staff members) is supporting the goals of the school and in general, being the best that they can be? For the sake of clarity, I will use the word librarian. No offense intended to those who think differently.

The following list is what I believe a good principal should expect from the library and their librarian(s):

1. The library should be a warm and inviting place. Students and teachers should want to visit
2. The librarian should always be looking to improve their skills and the role of the library.
3. The librarian should embrace change. Change is inevitable and the pace of change in our society is increasing exponentially. Students no longer can learn all the information they will need. They increasingly need to know how to find and access the vast amount of knowledge and information quickly and easily.
4. The library should be available before and after school for students and staff. It also should be available during lunchtimes for students to read.
5. The library should be up-to-date with the newest award-winning books, as well as stocking the classics.
6. The library should be a showcase for student work.
7. The library should have computer access and be research-oriented.
8. The library should be clearly organized and arranged
9. The library should have a librarian who is nice and helpful. Students should be encouraged and not be afraid to ask questions. The importance of this should not be underestimated. Knowledge does not equal “niceness”. A good librarian has both!
10. The librarian should be pro-active in working with teachers and asking them how the librarian can support their efforts. The librarian should be responsive to the wants and needs of its users. Again, the librarian needs to be not only a team player, but a person who helps bring others together!
11. The librarian should be open to feedback and willing to change, based on that feedback.
12. The library should have on-going promotions and/or contests that support the goal of gaining more readers and/or users of the library.
13. The librarian should be one of your staff members most interested in the continuation of their learning. They should be leaders in technology and in keeping ahead of trends in education.
14. Lastly, the librarian does not purchase technology for its “coolness” factor. If the technology helps accomplish the goals of the schools and it helps the students and teachers have a better experience and to learn easier, then it’s done its job.

It should be mentioned that in order for a library and the librarian to be their best, then the principal has to support the librarian with appropriate funds and policy. The leader sets the tone in a building.

What are your thoughts about the list? Do you feel something else should be included when looking at libraries, librarians, and their roles in schools? Do you disagree with any of these?

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

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