Teacher Librarian Gains Credential and Connections at the iSchool
“I think that being at SJSU has made me more open minded about all the things technology is allowing us to do. I also enjoy having the freedom to work at my own pace in my own time. I think that has been really convenient and helpful as a working professional.”
Union City, CA
Indira Chakrabarti began the Teacher Librarian Credential program at SJSU’s iSchool after she transitioned from English teacher to librarian at James Logan High School in Union City, CA. James Logan High School is a large school of approximately 4,000 students, and is supposed to have one credentialed librarian for every 780 students. At the time the school only had one credentialed librarian working, and Chakrabarti was in the right place at the right time to move into the position of librarian. “I wasn’t looking to leave teaching [at James Logan High School] because I’m at heart a classroom teacher, but there were opportunities to keep teaching while working in the library. The timing was serendipitous and I wanted the opportunity to try something new,” said Chakrabarti.
Chakrabarti was able to bring her love for literature into her work at the library by building a collection that engages students. She enjoys the fact that she gets to know every student in the school through the required 9th grade orientation. She also finds fulfillment in her work collaborating with staff and those outside the school library, such as the teen librarian at the Union City Library across the street. “I didn’t realize we would have TA’s,” said Chakrabarti. “We have two TA’s per period. I get to work closely with the TA’s and students who are often at the library. It gives me a chance to connect in a really big school. You get to see the growth in the students and develop these relationships in a way that is so positive for all of us.”
In order to remain in her position as a school librarian, Chakrabarti had to complete the teacher librarian credential. The 31-unit program at the iSchool fit the bill because of the flexibility it offers students. The program is also approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and Council for Accreditation for Educator Preparation. Chakrabarti resides in Union City, which is close to San José, but does not have the time to attend long lectures like she did previously while pursuing her graduate school degree. “The transition to online grad school has been a little challenging after taking part in traditional graduate school, but I enjoy all the connections I have made. I have met so many other teacher librarians that I wouldn’t have otherwise because we are all online. We are geographically in different places but we are able to connect and work together,” said Chakrabarti.
Chakrabarti began the program with INFO 203 and INFO 200, which she thought was a good introduction to the program. Over the summer she began her electives, starting with INFO 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification. She is currently taking INFO 266 Collection Development and INFO 237 School Media Centers and describes both classes to be very demanding but relevant to her current career as a school librarian. “A lot of it is very applicable and pragmatic. I just did an assignment with a partner and I absolutely think everything we did in that project I will use in the library at school,” said Chakrabarti. “Last semester, I partnered up with a librarian from New Jersey and we never would have connected if it weren’t for this program.” Chakrabarti plans to finish the credential program in the spring, take one or two semesters off, and then return to SJSU to complete the MLIS degree. She can see herself working as a school librarian for many years in the future.