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Wednesday
Sep022009

Do you have a library supervisor?

This e-mail came as part of a conversation that followed the guest blog post of Gary Hartzell:

I work for Dr. Barry Bishop whom you may know.  I’m in the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston.  It’s a mixed district – half of it is very wealthy -George Bush Senior - lives in that part and half is Hispanic, ESL, Title I etc. etc.  I work in one of the Title I schools and would not have it any other way.

Dr. B, we call him is a true visionary – I know it is an overused words these day but he truly is. He knows exactly what a 21st century library will look like & is determined to provide it to our students.  At the last Texas Library Association meeting it was apparent that we were head and shoulders above the other districts in Texas when it came to using Web 2.0 tools.  He battles our IT department daily to open the filters – we have Facebook, Twitter and MySpace and I think we’re about to get YouTube.

He’s always pushing us (well me at least!) outside of our comfort zone.  He gives us just enough nudges and then all of a sudden we can’t remember when we weren’t doing whatever it was that we didn’t want to do in the first place.   He’s introduced Video Streaming, e-books & databases.  When he first came to the district we had just moved to an online catalog on dumb terminals.  The libraries now bristle with computers and technology.  He designed the Library Media Services web page http://library.springbranchisd.com/library-resources/ and took us step by step into the Internet.

When things don’t go well (like the year we lost our processing and ordering department due to budget cuts) he always comes up with solutions and provides the leadership we need to carry on.

When we lost our processing dept. he arranged for review lessons in cataloging (I hadn’t cataloged since library school) & found and introduced us to Marc Magician.

He demands a top notch performance from his librarians – and is equally demanding of himself.   He’s always open to comments and questions – in fact he knows that sometimes I won’t do as he asks but that I always have a good reason for bucking the tide.  I buck the tide often!

On top of all that he is a genuinely nice and honest individual. 

Thanks so much!

Guusje Moore

Wow. How many school librarians today have the services of a library supervisor? Even one (like yours truly) whose job is about 90% technology and 10% library service*? And how many of us are fortunate to work for person who exhibit's Guuje's boss's characteristics? (I have. See What makes a good boss?) Guusje's letter made me feel very guilty for not being a better department head for our librarians. We lost ground last year with budget cuts in both personnel and materials.

Guusje and her fellow Spring Branch librarians sound pretty lucky to have an advocate and leader for their department. But my questions would be how do school librarians that don't have this district-level support still have district-level influence?

Share your success stories...

Oh, and a letter like the one above says as much about the character of the writer as it does the subject. Any chance you want to move to Minnesota, Ms Moore?

* I was actually hired in 1991 as the district AV supervisor as my parking spot sign still reflects...

 

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Reader Comments (7)

Carlyn Gray has led the librarians of the 50+ campuses of the Round Rock Independent School District (north of Austin, TX) for many years. She took a chance on hiring me a little over a year and and a half ago, an untested SLIS student that was a looooong way from graduating, and for that I am very grateful. Although I have had a very successful run of 11 years in the language arts classroom, I feel that I was born to be a school librarian. Being able to explore, learn, and integrate modern information skills, (including technology applications) into various curricula is my passion. I can finally leverage 2 of my loves - reading and tech toys, into the perfect job, and Carlyn supports me and the other librarians as we seek to transform our district into an outstanding 21st century learning environment.

She also pushes us to innovate, to bring more and more students, teachers, and members of the community into our libraries, and to be true educational leaders on our campuses, in the state of Texas, and in the nation. She is our advocate when we need her, and she truly cares about each campus and its library staff. I feel that I could not have chosen a better school district to begin my library career than Round Rock, and my colleagues, Carlyn above all, have made this district a terrific place to work, to learn, and to grow as a library professional.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlpbryan

How wonderful to see this library media supervisor appreciated! While the role of the school library media specialist is not always recognized by teachers or the public, I think the role of the media supervisor is undervalued, often by the media specialists they coordinate. After any meeting with a group of library media supervisors, I left with greater respect for the very difficult jobs they had. So many are leaders at the state and national levels, too!

As part of my study of Florida school library media centers (2004), I discovered that districts with a full-time library media supervisor (50% of Florida's 67 school districts) had a higher percentage of their schools completing the survey than disticts with a part-time supervisor than those with a part-time supervisor (30%) had a higher rate of return than those without a supervisor. We decided that it might be interesting to look at some of the other data by level of supervision. Pretty interesting!

We decided to dig a little deeper in examining the data. I've never really found a place to share the findings (other than as an appendix to the study) and I can't say anyone's been very interested. The results are only generalizable to Florida and the districts at that time. But library media supervisors did make a difference indeed!

The bottom line:

"Although more research is needed to determine specific relationships, data presented here reveals that the presence of a district level school library media supervisor or coordinator makes a significant difference in collections, technology, budgets, staffing, policies, and activities of building level school library media programs and therefore ultimately on student achievement."

I'm guessing (hypothesizing?) they are even more important today than they were a few years ago! Library media supervisors, thanks for all you do for all of us!

Details of the study here: http://file2.ws/supervisorstudy
or http://issuu.com/auntytech/docs/supervisorstudy

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Baumbach

Thanks, LP for your tribute. I am sure there are lots of great people working in this capacity and more of them should hear comments like yours and Guusje's.

Doug

Hi Donna,

This very interesting, and I am sure gratifying to any library supervisor reading this post. I suspect library supervisors are the Rodney Dangerfields of the educational profession - no respect!

All the best and thanks for making my day!

Doug

September 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Oh how I envy Guusje Moore!
I work in a Baltimore City Public School. My students' innocence, and ignorance, is fiercely protected by the Bess Internet filter at its highest setting, meaning that neither teachers nor students can access Google Image search, free pages, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or most commercial sites. I recognize the difficult situation school library supervisors are in, and applaud the bravery of those who choose to encourage guided exploration of the wide world of the World Wide Web rather than keeping them on intellectual lockdown during school hours.

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDouglas Gauld

Hi Douglas,

I would guess that a district your size could support such a position. If it doesn't, has anyone (or any group) undertaken a quest to find out why not?

Doug

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

And Dr, B of SBISD has extended his leadership to other districts as he and his staff allowed us non-SBISD library folks to fully participate in spring/summer 2008's "Library 23 Things" for professional development credit at no cost, then provided this year's "11.5 Things" to extend the learning of 23 Things grads.

In this era of service cuts (as our Region eliminated all CE support for school librarians in 2007), it's great that Spring Branch ISD is sharing the opportunity to play with Web 2.0 technologies without paying enormous fees (from our own pockets, of course). Thanks again, Dr. B and VWB and the other "lifeguards" and "team captains" who shepherded hundreds of teachers and librarians through the exploration process with "Things" - what's on tap for next summer?

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaty Manck

Thanks, Katy, for this acknowledgment of effective leadership!

Doug

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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