It is of vital importance that teacher librarians have the support of their school principals. A school principal can affect collaboration opportunities and budget. Without the support of principals, teacher librarians would be forced to limit their involvement in the planning and implementation stages of program development and they could have their budgets significantly reduced severely limiting resources. A teacher librarian can gather support from their principal by becoming a mentor to staff, and engaging in regular communication. It is imperative that a teacher librarian gathers support from their school principal as the level of principal support enables teacher librarians to either flourish or fail (Nancy, 2006).
Some fundamental roles and responsibilities of a teacher librarian have improved chances of success through the support of the school principal. Collaboration with teachers, staff, and the wider school community is a requirement of the ‘Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians’ (Australian Library and Information Association; Australian School Library Association , 2012) that ‘increases the capacity to get things done, improve community conditions, in this case the school community and address more successfully the needs of all students’ (Ken, 2007) and it may sound like a simple matter; however, it requires the support of the principal to either permit a flexible schedule which allows the teacher librarian time to collaborate (Morris, 2007) or to ensure that there is a common time for planning (Morris, 2007) for all involved in the collaborative process.
Part of the role of the teacher librarian is to ensure library resources are aligned with current standards and benchmarks as well as planning and budgeting for any improvements that may be required (Australian Library and Information Association; Australian School Library Association , 2012). As it is the school principal that has ultimate control of the allocation of funds to the library budget (Morris, 2007), a supportive principal is therefore fundamentally important if any library is to be able to budget for up-to-date technologies and resources (Morris, 2007) therefore remaining a useful commodity to both staff and students.
A teacher librarian should be able to gather support from their principal by becoming a leader within the school and a mentor to colleagues. This may be achieved through provision of in-service training to staff members (Oberg, 2006) not only is it part of the ‘Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians’ (Australian Library and Information Association; Australian School Library Association , 2012) to which an excellent teacher librarian should aspire; but it is also an effective means of enhancing a teacher librarians value to their principal by demonstrating specialized skills that they are providing the school.
Furthermore regularly communicating with the principal regarding any professional development needs, the status of the library, or of any collaborative projects that the teacher librarian may be apart of (Australian Library and Information Association; Australian School Library Association , 2012; Oberg, 2006) ensures that the principal is kept appraised of all needs and developments. Such appraisal will improve the principals’ ability to “evaluate the success of the library and information literacy programs” (Oberg, 2006) thereby increasing the benefit of the teacher librarian to the school community.
By maintaining a leadership role within the school environment through the provision of in-service training to staff, as well as sustaining regular communication between both the school principal and a teacher librarian they should be able to garner support from their principal. Such support makes the collaborative process easier to arrange and may reduce the rick of substantial budget cuts. Therefore it is imperative that all teacher librarians garner support from their principal if they wish to see their program achieve its maximum potential.
Australian Library and Information Association; Australian School Library Association . (2012, Dec 10). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved Dec 1, 2013, from Australian School Library Association: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Ken, H. (2007).Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 25-35.
Morris, B. J. (Ed.). (2007). Principal support for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 23-24.
Nancy, E. (2006). Principals’ evaluation of school librarians: A study of strategic and nonstrategic evidence-based approaches. School Libraries Worldwide , 12 (2), 38-51.
Oberg, D. (2006, Feb). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian , 33 (3), pp. 13-18.