Exploring iSchool Career Pathways– Teacher Librarianship
Published: Tuesday, December 09, 2014 by Allison Randall Gatt
Are you already a credentialed teacher, looking to switch your focus to librarianship? Or perhaps you work in a school library and want to earn a degree that can help you give your job a bit more focus and depth. If you are passionate about working with children and teens in school settings, you may want to take a look at the iSchool’s Teacher Librarianship Career Pathway.
Instructor Dr. Mary Ann Harlan recommends following the Teacher Librarianship Career Pathway within the MLIS program if you’re interested in a career as a school library media specialist or a teacher librarian. The School of Information offers both a Teacher Librarian Program credential (31 required units) and a Teacher Librarianship Career Pathway within the MLIS degree (43 required units). “There are so many rich options for classes in the school’s MLIS program that will expand your reference service and technology skills,” says Harlan, explaining some of the benefits of earning an MLIS degree.
There are many other reasons to have the MLIS degree under your belt. For example, holding an MLIS degree gives you the flexibility to work in other settings, such as academic libraries, or pursue other opportunities in the rapidly evolving information professions. Or with an MLIS, you can go back to school again and earn your PhD, as Harlan herself did after working as a teacher librarian
Are you wondering what today’s job market looks like for teacher librarians? With a recent upswing in California’s economy, approved parcel taxes and new funding models, school library jobs are beginning to return to California public schools. Other states currently have better outlooks for teacher librarians with much lower librarian to student ratios. In addition, it’s a career field where promotional opportunities also exist. For example, iSchool alumna Susan Pennell earned her MLIS in 2008, and today she works as the manager of library media services for the Madera County Office of Education. You can read more about Pennell here.
Courses in the Teacher Librarian Career Pathway at the iSchool focus on integrating emerging technology into teaching and librarianship. Since many students in these classes are already working librarians, they are able to put what they’ve learned into action. Students are able to freely share their ideas and experience in class and learn not just from the instructor but also from each other.
Recently, the iSchool updated courses to include material regarding the Common Core Curriculum Standards, including LIBR 237. School Library Media Materials and LIBR 267 Seminar in Services to Children and Young Adults Topic: Children and Information Technology, which addresses literacies included in CCCS.
With around forty five states adopting the new Common Core Curriculum Standards, school librarians are seeing a shift in their teaching roles. There is a lot of potential for Teacher Librarians to embed themselves in instruction, says Harlan. “Much of the Common Core anchor standards in reading and writing are directly correlated to research and information literacy instruction. Teacher Librarians can really position themselves as experts and identifying and advocating reading for pleasure.” Children who learn to read early and learn to read well become lifelong readers, and the advocacy of reading by teachers and librarians is so important for a child’s future success.
For the Summer 2015 course schedule, the iSchool is offering a one-unit class in LIBR 282, entitled Advocacy in School Libraries, taught by Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom. The class will be built around Dr. Stenstrom’s research on how to build relationships, and be able to advocate for yourself, your students, your library, and your school.
“Since advocacy is such an important role for teacher librarians,” says Harlan, “this course will help students build skills to advocate for funding and educate leaders on what teacher librarians bring to the table.”
Students who are interested in either the MLIS program’s Teacher Librarianship Career Pathway or the Teacher Librarian program have another resource available to them as soon as they are admitted. There is a special online advising site for this group of students, where they can interact with other students pursuing a career in teacher librarianship, and access information and resources specifically for them.
Over the next several months, we’ll take a look at the different career pathways offered through the School of Information’s MLIS program. With the exception of LIBR 203 and the other three core courses, as well as LIBR 285, and either a thesis or eportfolio (to make a total of six required courses), the classes you take are your choice—whatever you feel best shapes your career direction, skills and passions. It is always a good idea to discuss your coursework with your advisor, and together you can map out a list of classes that will suit your chosen career goals.
Are you interested in Teacher Librarianship? A current librarian or just passionate about educating kids? Please share with us!
Image courtesy of Aleska D
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