Building the Dream: You are Your Best Teaching Tool

by Lauren Bourdages, Head Editor, INALJ Ontario

Building the Dream: You are Your Best Teaching Tool

laurenb1Earlier this week a friend of mine who is a Teacher in New Zealand found a job posting for a Teacher-Librarian position that she asked me to help her put together her application package for. That got me thinking, remembering, that what pulled me into the LIS industry in the first place was discovering my passion for educational libraries while I was earning my BEd. I had developed a dream that was to one day be the person in charge of a school library, or  even grander, the person who helps to shape school library policy here in Ontario. Somewhere along the way in my Library and Information Technician program, while trying to build as wide a variety of library experience as possible, I lost sight of that dream, and it probably had a lot to do with the current school library staffing policies in my region, but regardless of that, I’ve graduated from my program now, I have an LIT diploma and I am a certified Teacher-Librarian so I decided now was a good time to reflect on my passions and my dreams.

It has turned out to be a good week for reflection, I had oral surgery on the 11th to extract 3 wisdom teeth so I really have had the time to reflect. I started by reviewing the work that I did for my Teacher-Librarian certification course, Librarianship Part I; I completed it in April 2011 through the University of Western Ontario. Teacher-Librarian jobs don’t come up very often, a lot of people seem to know even less about T/Ls than they do about LITs, and I feel that both groups need more exposure and understanding. A Teacher-Librarian is someone with both educational and practical experience as a teacher and in library and information services. This usually means they’ve gone through a BEd program, and then in Ontario at least, have completed accredited Librarianship courses regulated by the Ontario College of Teachers. I think I’m an anomaly in that I took the OCT certification course while earning  an LIT diploma, but I think I like my method the best because there was a lot of stuff I learned about libraries, especially school libraries, in my LIT courses that didn’t get touched on in Librarianship Pt. I.

One thing I did get to do in that course however was use the research I had been doing into the school library staffing models in the Waterloo Region. I discovered that the two school boards (Public and Catholic) have radically different staffing models.

The Waterloo Region District School Board uses the following methods:

At the elementary level
– 1 Library Clerk in each school: this clerk has no formal Library education, only a high school diploma is required, these positions usually have less than 20 hours a week, the Library is only allowed to be open when the Clerk is working
– 6 Itinerant Teacher-Librarians who are each responsible for an average of 15-20 schools

At the secondary level
– A Head Librarian who is usually a Teacher-Librarian Specialist
– At least 1 other full-time Teacher-Librarian (usually 2)

At the Board level
– Library and Resource Services; from what I’ve been able to learn about LRS they employ Librarians, Teacher-Librarians and Library Technicians in this department

Contrastingly the Waterloo Catholic District School Board uses this model:

At the elementary level
– At least 1 trained Library Technician at each School
– Possibly also/or 1 Librarian; some of the schools’ websites refer to the Library Staff as Librarian, some as Library Technician

At the secondary school level they have two models, at most of their high schools they have
– 1 MLIS holding librarian

At St. Mary’s they have a branch of the Kitchener Public Library attached to the school, to the KPL staff also provide school library services.

At the Board level
– Board Resource Centre which employs Librarians and Library Technicians

Using the findings below I created a brochure outlining my ideal school library staffing model, and I want to share that brochure with all of you here today. So voila:

That’s the vision I have for an ideally staffed school library. Is it a pipe dream? Probably, in my experience school libraries seem to face a lot of underfunding, especially in Ontario where we’ve faced a lot of boards looking at closures of their school libraries in recent years. I’m sure you all find as tragic as I do.  My only hope is that with enough advocacy and pushing maybe one day we’ll at least get to the point where all school libraries are at least staffed with the same model so that all of our students are getting the same experience.

Works Consulted:

  • Koechlin, Carol, Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwaan. Build Your Own Information Literate School. Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow Research and Pub., 2003. Print.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.