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The Instructional Role of the Library Media Specialist as Perceived by Elementary School Principals. VERA Conference Charlottesville, VA September 18, 2008. Dr. Audrey Church Longwood University Farmville, Virginia [email protected] Statement of the Problem.

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The instructional role of the library media specialist as perceived by elementary school principals l.jpg

The Instructional Role of the Library Media Specialist as Perceived by Elementary School Principals

VERA Conference

Charlottesville, VA

September 18, 2008

Dr. Audrey Church

Longwood University

Farmville, Virginia

[email protected]


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Statement of the Problem

  • Library media specialists are teachers and instructional partners (AASL, 1998)

  • Library media specialists positively impact student achievement (Lance, Rodney, and Hamilton-Pennell, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005)

  • Principals are not knowledgeable regarding library media centers (Wilson and Blake, 1993)


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Rationale/Significance of Study

  • Increased emphasis on instructional role with publication of new standards in 1998 (AASL, 1998)

  • Higher student test scores when library media specialist takes active role in instruction (School Libraries Work, 2006)

  • Principal support, as instructional leader of school, is key (Hartzell, 2002b)


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Purpose of the Study

  • Focus on elementary level

  • Focus on instructional role

  • Determine how elementary school principals view teaching and instructional partnership roles

  • Determine origin of perceptions


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Standards

  • Library Media

    • Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning, 1998

    • NBPTS, 2001

    • ALA/AASL—NCATE, 2003

  • Educational Leadership

    • Standards for Advanced Programs in Educational Leadership(National Policy Board, 2002)


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Role of the Principal

  • Financial support (Campbell, 1991; Henri and Hay, 1995)

  • Staffing support (Oberg, 1996)

  • Scheduling support (Hartzell, 2002b; Oberg, 1996)

  • Communication of importance of program to students and teachers (Buchanan, 1982; Campbell, 1991; Hartzell, 2002c; Kolencik, 2001; Oberg, 1996)


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Principals’ Perceptions

  • Only 18% described library media specialists’ duties as instructional in nature(Naylor and Jenkins, 1988)

  • Traditional view of library media specialist roles(Dorrell and Lawson, 1995)

  • Major role—reference, research, keeper and circulator of materials(Kolencik, 2001)

  • Learning and teaching rated lowest of five roles(Alexander, Smith, and Carey, 2003)


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Source of Principals’ Perceptions

  • No discussion in teacher preparation or principal preparation programs(Buchanan, 1982; Wilson and McNeil, 1998)

  • Experience as teacher(Naylor and Jenkins, 1988; Hartzell, 2002a)

  • Experience as student(Alexander et al., 2003; Hartzell, 2002a)

  • Current library media specialist(Campbell, 1991; Naylor and Jenkins, 1988)


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Research Questions

  • How do elementary school principals view the library media specialist as a teacher of information literacy skills?

  • How do elementary school principals view the library media specialist as an instructional partner?


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Research Questions (continued)

  • What is the basis for elementary school principals’ views of the instructional role of the library media specialist?


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Methodology

  • Research Design

    • Non-experimental, descriptive survey research

  • Sampling of Subjects

    • Target population: 1177 Virginia elementary school principals

    • Sampling frame: 927 available email addresses

    • Proportional stratified random sample


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Instrumentation

  • Survey developed based on Alexander et al. (2003), Kolencik (2001), and McCracken (2000), using standards from field

  • Thirty-two questions, plus one open-ended question

  • Five-point Likert scale

  • Content review

  • Survey built using Inquisite and administered through Virginia Commonwealth University


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Data Collection

  • IRB submission and approval

  • Pilot study

  • Pre-notice email

  • Email with survey link, embedded Informed Consent Form

  • Follow-up, reminder email

  • Inquisite survey responses exported to SPSS


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Survey Administration

  • First Round:

    • May 11, 2007: pre-notice email to 500

    • June 19, 2007: survey closed; 64 responses (14%)

  • Second Round:

    • August 1, 2007: pre-notice email to 424

    • August 21, 2007: survey closed; 51 responses (13%)

  • 110 Usable responses, 13% response rate


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Findings:School Characteristics

  • All eight regions of Virginia represented in the sample

  • 25.5% of respondents characterized their schools as urban; 74.5% characterized their schools as non-urban


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Findings:School Characteristics

  • Grade level configurations

    • PreK-542.2%

    • K-526.6%

    • Others: PreK-2, 3-5, K-6, K-7, PreK-6, PreK-7, PreK-4, 1-7

  • Enrollment

    • 100-29918.2%

    • 300-74972.7%

    • 750-1499 9.1%


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Findings: Principal Demographics

  • Almost 50% had 10 or less years teaching experience:

    • 28% had 6-10

    • 20% had 5 or less

  • Four most common areas of teaching:

    • English, math, social sciences, 66% in each

    • Science, 58%


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Findings:Principal Demographics

  • Grade levels of classroom teaching experience

    • PreK-245%

    • 3-567%

    • 6-850%

    • 9-1224%


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Findings:Principal Demographics

  • Years of administrative experience

    • 1-514.5%

    • 6-1041.9%

    • 11-1523.6%

    • 16-2010.9%

    • 21-25 5.5%

    • Over 25 3.6%


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Research Question #1

  • How do elementary school principals view the library media specialist as a teacher of information literacy skills?

  • Twelve survey questions dealt with teacher role of library media specialist

  • Perceptions reported by frequencies


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Findings: Teacher Role


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Findings: Teacher Role


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Summary Thoughts

  • Principals responding to the survey endorsed the instructional role of the library media specialist as teacher of information literacy skills.

  • Areas of “less agreement”:

    • Teaching students to use free Web sites (81.8%)

    • Teaching students to take notes and organize information (74.6%)

    • Access to standardized test data (80%)

    • Use of standardized test data for instruction (82.8%)


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Research Question #2

2. How do elementary school principals view the library media specialist as an instructional partner?

  • Eight survey questions dealt with instructional partner role of library media specialist

  • Perceptions reported by frequencies


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Findings: Instructional Partner Role


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Findings: Instructional Partner Role


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Findings: Instructional Partner Role


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Summary Thoughts

  • Principals responding to the survey endorsed the instructional role of the library media specialist as instructional partner.

  • Areas to note:

    • 91.8% of principals endorsed collaborating at grade levels; 85.4% endorsed collaborating with individual teachers

    • Just 73.6% felt that library media specialists should evaluate student work

    • Primary initiator at teacher level—67.3% LMS; 11.8% administrator

    • Primary initiator at school level—57.3% LMS; 38.2% administrator


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Research Question #3

  • What is the basis for elementary school principals’ views of the instructional role of the library media specialist?

  • Origin of perceptions reported by frequencies

  • Responses to open-ended question for critical incidents examined by content analysis


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Primary Source of Knowledge of Instructional Role of Library Media Specialist


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Follow-Up Question

  • Did you receive any sort of formal training related to library media specialists in your principal preparation program?

    • No90.9%

    • Yes 9.1% (n=10)

      • 5 topic of discussion in several courses; 3 topic of discussion in one course; 1 entire course in school library media; 1 master’s was in library media


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Open-Ended Question

  • “Think back to a situation or incident which you have had with a library media specialist which helped to form your view of the role of the library media specialist in the school. The incident could be a positive one, or it could be a negative one. Please describe the incident.”

  • 83 of the 110 respondents (75%) answered the open-ended question

  • Perceptions are formed based on both negative and positive interactions


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Negative Responses

  • Information/content

    • Library media specialists’ lack of current technological skills

      • “librarian runs an organized library where students check out books and are read to…We are waiting for her to retire (next year) so that we can get someone who is truly a media specialist”

    • Library media specialists who do not see the need to teach research or information skills

      • “in my experience in this school division, LMS professionals do not initiate quality lessons with children, but merely manage circulation of the library”


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Negative Responses

  • Relational/attitude

    • Lack of proactivity

      • “too shy to bring the library to life…waits for me to say order things…teachers complain about not having enough books on high and low levels”

    • Interpersonal skills/environment

      • “My current librarian is retiring and the entire school community is happy to see her go…she gives the impression that she just does not like children. She did not work well with other teachers.”

      • “The library should not be a place of hoops to jump through—it should be a welcoming place.”


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Positive Responses

  • Relational/attitude

    • “eager to collaborate with classroom teachers in planning instructional programs for students”

    • “library was fun place for kids to go and they learned to be independent in the library by the librarian and teachers working together”

    • “She first made the media center welcoming to students and staff; she encouraged teachers to use her and the media center as a resource by initiating collaboration with a teacher in each department.”


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Positive Responses

  • Information/content—Five categories

  • Connections to SOL

    • “asked to meet with all the teachers to coordinate what she did to go along with the SOL they were teaching in the classroom”

  • Use of curriculum/pacing guides

    • “uses the SOL data and our pacing guide to help guide her lessons as well as to offer support to the teachers for their instructional planning”


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Positive Responses

  • Information/content—Five categories

  • Attention to standardized test scores

    • “library media specialist wanted to review the SOL scores in order to enhance the instructional program for the students”

  • Teaching research skills

    • “collaborated with classroom teachers to develop research skills for students…met with teachers the week before for planning and together they developed the media lesson that was supportive of the classroom instruction…students understood the connection that the media center was an extension of learning. It was not an isolated place we go with no connection to the live learning of the classroom.”


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Positive Responses

  • Information/content—Five categories

  • Staff development in the area of information resources

    • “presented excellent information to our PTA and staff about using online databases and why they are more reliable than search engines such as Google or Yahoo”


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Expectations for Library Media Specialists

  • Expectations for instructional role of library media specialist based on strong library media specialist with whom they worked:

    • “In my first job as a teacher, I probably had the chance to work with the best librarian I have seen…I judge all librarians by her.”

    • “I worked with a wonderful media specialist. She used lesson plans that coordinated with the grade level standard course of study and integrated regular classroom curriculum into the library experience…she has been the ruler by which I measure other media specialists.”


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Summary Thoughts

  • Principals learn about the instructional role of the library media specialist from library media specialists with whom they work, as principals and as teachers.

  • Perceptions are formed based on both negative and positive interactions.

  • Expectations of current and future library media specialists are based on these prior experiences and interactions.


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Delimitations and Limitations

  • Delimitations

    • Elementary schools in Virginia

    • Web-based survey

  • Limitations

    • Self-reported perceptions

    • Low response rate

    • Non-response bias


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Implications for Current Practice

  • University educational leadership preparation programs

  • University school library media preparation programs

  • Professional development

  • Conference sessions

  • Responsibility on practitioners

  • Need for public relations, marketing, and advocacy


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Recommendations for Further Research

  • Replicate study in other states or at national level

  • Conduct additional study of elementary principals’ actions

  • Conduct similar study with secondary principals


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Works Cited

  • Alexander, L. B., Smith, R. C., & Carey, J. O. (2003). Education reform and the school library media specialist. Knowledge Quest, 32(2), 10-13.

  • American Association of School Librarians. (1998). Information power: Building partnerships for learning. Chicago: American Library Association.

  • American Library Association. (2003). ALA/AASL standards for initial programs of school library media specialist preparation. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from http://www.ncate.org/documents/ProgramStandards/ala%202001.pdf

  • Buchanan, W. (1982). The principal and role expectations of the library media specialist. The Clearing House, 55(6), 253-255.

  • Campbell, J.M. (1991). Principal-school library media relations as perceived by selected North Carolina elementary principals and school library media specialists. Dissertation Abstracts International 52 (07A), 2336. (UMI No. 9135211)

  • Dorrell, L. D., & Lawson, V. L. (1995). What are principals’ perceptions of the school library media specialist? NASSP Bulletin, 79(2), 72-80.


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Works Cited

  • Hartzell, G. (2002a). The principal’s perceptions of school libraries and teacher-librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 8(1), 92-110.

  • Hartzell, G. (2002b). White House conference on school libraries: What’s it take? Retrieved April 2, 2005, from http://www.imls.gov/pubs/whitehouse0602/garyhartzell.htm

  • Hartzell, G. (2002c). Why should principals support school libraries?ERIC Digest. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED470034).

  • Henri, J., & Hay, L. (1995). Teacher-librarians must be principally minded. School libraries in Canada, 15(4), 20-21.

  • Kolencik, P. L. (2001). Principals and teacher-librarians: Building collaborative partnerships in the learning community. Dissertation Abstracts International 62 (05A), 1784. (UMI No. 3013296)

  • Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2000). How school librarians help kids achieve standards: The second Colorado study. San Jose, CA: HiWillow.


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Works Cited

  • Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2001). Good schools have school librarians: Oregon school librarians collaborate to improve academic achievement. Terrebonne, OR: Oregon Educational Media Association.

  • Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2002). How school libraries improve outcomes for children: The New Mexico study. Salt Lake City: HiWillow.

  • Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2005). Powerful libraries make powerful learners: The Illinois study. Canton, IL: Illinois School Library Media Association.

  • McCracken, A. (2000). Perceptions of school library media specialists regarding their roles and practices. Dissertation Abstracts International 61(04A), 1369. (UMI No. 9968476)

  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2001). NBPTS library media standards. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from http://www.nbpts.org/the_standards/standards_by_cert?ID=19&x=56&y=5


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Works Cited

  • National Policy Board for Educational Administration. (2002). Standards for advanced programs in educational leadership. Retrieved October 24, 2006, from http://www.npbea.org/ELCC/ELCCStandards%20_5-02.pdf

  • Naylor, A. P., & Jenkins, K. D. (1988). An investigation of principals’ perceptions of library media specialists’ performance evaluation technology. School Library Media Quarterly, 16(3), 234-243.

  • Oberg, D. (1996). Principal support—what does it mean to teacher-librarians? Worcester, England: Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED400851)

  • Wilson, P. J., & Blake, M. (1993). The missing piece: A school library media center component in principal-preparation programs. Record in Educational Leadership, 12(2), 65-68.

  • Wilson, P. P., & MacNeil, A. J. (1998). In the dark: What’s keeping principals from understanding libraries? School Library Journal, 44(9), 114-116.


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For more information, contact…

Dr. Audrey Church

Assistant Professor and Coordinator

School Library Media Program

Longwood University

Farmville, VA 23909

434-395-2682

[email protected]

Full dissertation is available through VCU’s James Branch Cabell Library at

http://etd.vcu.edu/theses/available/etd-01182008-191312/


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