School Librarians as Leaders

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School Librarians as Leaders
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Kimberly Hirsh
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With the publication of Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs in 2009, the American Association of School Librarians articulated a role that school librarians had not been expected to take on before: that of leader. Earlier guidelines documents had embedded a variety of leadership activities within the roles of information specialist, instructional consultant or partner, teacher, and program administrator (American Association of School Librarians, 1988, 1998). Without the expectation of leadership clearly articulated in their guidelines, however, school librarians did not perceive themselves as leaders (Ishizuka, Minkel, & Lifer, 2002; McCracken, 2001; Shannon, 2004, 2008; Vansickle, 2000) and neither did the principals who supervised them (Hartzell, 2002). Since the release of Empowering Learners, some states have begun to require school librarians to demonstrate leadership to obtain or maintain their teacher certification and to retain their positions (Public Schools of North Carolina, 2013). The empirical literature surrounding school library leadership reflects this shift; in the era before the publication of Empowering Learners, few studies were published focusing on leadership in the school library, but since its release, several studies have been published. The literature surrounding school library leadership relies on leadership theories grounded in the concept of shared leadership. It addresses preservice leadership education for school librarians, their ability to implement professional guidelines and standards related to leadership, and their leadership capacity in specific facets of leadership such as collaboration, evidence-based practice, and technology integration.