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What should your portfolio include?

Portfolio.jpgFor my interview for my current job back in 1991, I drug with me an LCD panel, a Mac Classic, and an overhead projector  and used these to display a b&w HyperCard stack version of my resume.  I was Mr. Technology in the eyes of the interview team (or so I hoped).

I was reminded of this when Texas library Media/Technology Specialist extraordinaire Shonda Brisco sent this message to LM_Net, observing:

Perhaps the concept of "What IS inside a librarian's portfolio?" should be a question we all ask - and keep on hand for ANY type of presentation, whether for a job interview or a reminder of what we have been doing.

The first time I saw a real portfolio (not just an electronic resume) help get a person her job was when we interviewed Shelly. This is how I described her interview in the  column "Getting the Job You Deserve":

Portfolios sell. Shelly’s interview didn’t seem to be going particularly well. Like many folks, her nerves made her less than articulate. But then she pulled from her bag a three-ring binder. It held plastic-sleeved sheets of teaching materials, computer-generated artwork, samples of her former students’ work, and very best of all, wonderful photographs of her working with students in happy, productive settings. She didn’t have to say much. She had visible evidence of the exciting things she had done with students in her last job. And now she’s doing them for us. 

 Shonda's portfolio list includes:

  • copies of articles written would be useful to share
  • procedures manual or handbook that you've created for your library
  • photographs, videos, and copies of graphics used for instruction

A good start.

But I will repeat Shonda's questions: "What would YOUR librarian portfolio contain?  How would you showcase it?"

And any technologists or classroom teachers, chime in here. What's in your porfolio? 


P.S. Shonda sent a great list of additional portfolio resource to LM_Net. The archived message is here. 

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Reader Comments (10)

My portfolio contains much of what you have written above: a 3-ring binder with unit plans, student work, and pictures. I have my personal philosophy of teaching and learning along with several letters of recommendation. I have all of my membership cards to various professional organizations of which I am a member. I have copies of press releases of what I have done in the classroom along with programs from conferences at which I have presented. I have ticket stubs from proms, football games, etc, and letters of thanks from former students. Basically, I have everything in my portfolio that I feel best showcase my abilities in the classroom.

And I, too, was hired on the basis of my portfolio. Not necessarily because the interview didn't go well, but because the rest of the committee couldn't be present that day.

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Roustan

Hi Susan,

Wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing them!


June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I like the idea of saving things like prom tickets and activities that a librarian participates in. I've kept "memory boxes" from each school that I've worked in. Inside are notes, letters, cards, brochures, pictures, etc., of activities that I've participated in and the responses that I received from students, parents, teachers, and administrators.

Initially, I thought this would be a great way to keep myself busy (and my grey-matter active) once I my rocking chair...and was trying to figure out just what I had done at that particular time in my life. However, I'm thinking that an electronic portfolio of materials scanned and shared with others would be a great way to increase visibility among prospective employers AND to grab some attention for librarians who do a lot more than some people realize!

Let me warm up the scanner!!


June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterShonda Brisco

This discussion is particularly relevant as my school contemplates student and teacher portfolio requirements. I think that to be a real demonstration of professional acumen, the portfolio ought to include some reflection on the items it contains and some speculation about future ideas, possibilities, etc.

I have carried to interviews a portfolio too, filled with the same kinds of materials. I have asked my husband (who interviews a lot in his position as an asst. principal at a big high school) if the portfolio idea was good, and he said yes, but he warned me to remove references to experiences outside the level I was interviewing for (i.e. having a lot of elementary pictures, work examples, and items if I was looking at a high school position.) I inquired about carrying a projector and laptop, and "presenting" my portfolio, and he said he thought that would be absolute "overkill" and while some would probably be impressed, most would see it as memorable, and possibly something to laugh about afterwards. A lot of interviews are arranged to occur on a single day, maybe two, and are scheduled relatively close together too. This is true particularly for teacher level positions. You would need time to set up and dismantle a presentation, and the interview team may not be able to allow for it. What many of us in SC know for a fact is that many of our principals are digital immigrants, and they may feel you are too technology oriented to be an asset to their school (translated, not a good fit). You might sell yourself as intimidating to an existing faculty or staff. So I would say that presenting your portfolio electronically is probably not a good idea, unless youa re interviewing for a technology position or maybe even a district level position. Many times I have taken a portfolio, and was only able to ask that they look at it after the interview. But what is nice about having it with you is when you want to show examples of items demonstrated in the portfolio from the interview questions. Then you can demonstrate that you have successful experience with whatever question they asked. I would add to it things like grants, presentations and samples of staff development activities, handouts, and other artifacts. I used letters of affirmation from my National Board Process as well, and printouts of collection analysis that compared strategic collection development over the years (i.e. a copy from year one and year four of an analysis to show improvement.) In revamping mine a few years ago, I also divided mine into sections that matched Information Power as it is presented, and the roles of the Library Media Specialist, as presented by gurus Mike Eisenerg and Bob Berkowitz of Big6 Research Model fame, as a framework for its organization. Using that as a guide for your portfolio, you would have four distinct sections, where you showcase yourself as a teacher, instructional partner, information specialist, and program administrator. All of the things previously mentioned would fit nicely into one of these four areas, and give solid organization to your portfolio. I certainly would not push it, but instead have it available in the interview and request to leave it for them to look over when there is more time after the interviews have been done. Now having said all that, I also believe a strong resume can say a lot about a candidate also, and actually my most recent job I obtained by a simple resume. I did not carry my portfolio at all. But I felt my resume was strong, and I have had others tell me the same (even Doug, who kindly proofed it and recommended a rearrangement of some data.)

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Nelson

My portfolio is also in a large 3 ring binder, separated into the following parts:

• My Professional & Person Accomplishments: Contains letters of recommendation from various leaders of organizations I have worked with, my resume, certifications, volunteerism, notes from teachers and students, involvement in professional organizations, and professional development certificates.
• Sample Library Lessons: Contains information literacy standards, lesson plans including rubrics, PowerPoint instruction, and samples of student work.
• Celebrations and Fun at the Library: Contains pictures showing acceptance of grants, presentations by outside guests, book fairs, contest winners, a script for the school district TV show which I hosted with several of my students (hosts changed for each show) Good Day Philadelphia’s appearance at my school booked by me, and donations to the library.
• Student and Staff Tools: Contains handbooks, organizers, hall passes, MLA bib style sheet, web pages created, and handouts on specific software or databases.
• Staff Development: Contains PowerPoint presentations and materials which I used when doing workshops with staff and parents, technology workshops that I taught which were offered district-wide and photos of assessors that I worked with as a trainer for The National Board Of Professional Teaching Standards.

All these areas reflect the last two schools where I was employed before starting here at Penn Alexander. I used this portfolio when participating in the interviewing process. I will soon be updating it to include my experiences here, with methods that others have mentioned kept in mind.

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJayne Downing

Hi Jayne and Cathy,

Really good advice here. (I was not advocating others do a PPT. I was just telling an old story!)

I would think many principals are looking for tech savvy LMSs and I would tend to flaunt that part of my experience and skills.

I wonder if leaving a CD with some sort of media stack would be a good way to leave information with people?

All the very best,


June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

My portfolio also contained a page of DVDs & CDs clearly labeled as to their content.

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Nelson


You're way ahead of me (as most people seem to be!)

All the best,


June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

There is a trend towards building portfolios both online or offline. An online CV is an excellent way to further differentiate your skills and experience. A website or even just a flash CV especially in more creative fields can help you get the job !

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffy

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