School Library Media Specialist Roles and Responsibilities

The library media specialist is an essential link in a new educational learning community which includes students, teachers, administrators, and parents as well as local, regional, state, national, and international communities. The new learning community is not limited by time, place, age, occupation, or disciplinary borders but instead is linked by interests, needs, and a growing array
of telecommunications technologies.

Helping students to be information literate in this learning community is the central concern of student-centered library media programs. The goal is
to assist all students in becoming active and creative locators, evaluators, and users of information to solve problems, think critically, and to satisfy their own curiosity through research and reading experiences. As the keystone of a student-centered library media program, the library media specialist works collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and others to facilitate students' entry into the Information and Communication Ages,
in the following four roles:
   As a teacher, the library media specialists works with students and other members of the learning community to analyze learning and information needs, to locate and use resources that will meet those needs, and to understand and communicate the information the resource provides. The library media specialist is knowledgeable about current research on teaching and learning and skilled in applying its findings to a variety of situations - particularly those that call upon students to access, evaluate, and use information from multiple sources in order to learn, to think, and to create and to apply knowledge. In short, the library media specialist teaches students to use information for critical thinking and problem solving using the Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning set forth in Information Power, the national standards for school library media programs (ALA, 1998).  
  As an instructional partner, the library media specialist joins with teachers and others to identify links with curricular content, learning outcomes, student information needs, and information resources. Working with the entire school community, the library media specialist takes a leadership role in developing policies, practices, and curricula that guide students to develop the full range of information literacy skills. The library media specialist works closely with individual teachers in the critical area of designing authentic learning tasks and assessments and integrating the information and communication abilities required to meet subject matter standards.   

As an information specialist, the library media specialist provides expertise in acquiring and evaluating information resources in all formats; in bringing an awareness of information issues to teachers, administrators, students, and others; and modeling for students and others strategies for locating, access, and evaluating information within and beyond the library media center. Working in an environment that has been profoundly affected by technology, the library media specialist both masters sophisticated electronic resources and maintains a constant focus on the nature, quality, and ethical uses of information available in these and in more traditional tools. 


  As a program administrator, the library media specialist guides and directs all the activities related to the library media program. Confident of the importance of the effective use of information to students' personal and economic success in their future lives, the library media specialist is an advocate for the library media program and provides the knowledge, vision, and leadership to steer it creatively and energetically in the 21st century. Proficient in the management of staff, budgets, equipment, and facilities, the library media specialist plans, executes, and evaluates the program to ensure its quality and relevance in the learning community.   

Adapted from Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning
American Library Association, c1998