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Library Media Placements
Ensuring that an appropriately prepared and endorsed teacher is assigned to teach in every Michigan classroom, including the school library or media center, is critical to student achievement. The October 14, 2014, Michigan State Board of Education Statement on School Libraries recognized “that certified library media specialists serve a critical role in increasing student achievement by supporting, collaborating, and co-teaching with classroom teachers in reading development, in integrating information and technology literacy skills into the content curriculum, and in meeting the expectations for student research set forth in the Common Core State Standards.” Additionally, in her proclamation commemorating April 2022 as School Library Month in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer emphasized that “school library programs staffed by certified school librarians and library media specialists are integral to a quality educational program and improve student achievement.”
Educators who hold the Library Media (ND) endorsement are certified teachers who have attained a Master’s Degree in Library Science or Library and Information Science (MLS or MLIS) and are uniquely qualified to carry out three primary roles in Michigan public and private schools as articulated in the library media preparation standards:
- information specialists; and
- program administrators.
Therefore, in accordance with the resources mentioned above, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) strongly recommends and encourages schools to staff and assign teachers with the ND endorsement to provide instruction in and administration of a school library. Further, any persons without the appropriate qualifications who perform any duties related to a school library program should be supervised by a certified teacher with the ND endorsement.
When a teacher with the ND endorsement is not available to administer a school library or to supervise personnel without ND endorsements in administration of a school library, districts may seek substitute permits for qualified individuals to serve in this role. Permits should not be considered permanent solutions for library staffing, and districts are strongly encouraged to support personnel in pursuing an ND endorsement on a Michigan teaching certificate. A teacher who holds the K-5 all subjects endorsement can be assigned as a school librarian in a K-5 setting regardless of the structure and programming. Additional guidance can be found in the All Subjects Endorsed Teachers Placement Guidance. While a district may assign paraprofessionals or library aides to fulfill some of the administrative duties enumerated below, districts must be mindful of the limitations of such a placement as discussed in MDE’s guidance document on utilization of noncertified personnel.
An individual is considered to be “administering a school library” if his/her position description or day-to-day duties include any or all of the following elements:
Collaboratively designs and delivers instruction that develops students’ ability to inquire, think critically, gain and share knowledge, and that enables members of the learning community to become effective users and creators of ideas and information.
Literacy and Reading Promotion/Materials Selection
Promotes reading for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment; maintains an awareness of major trends in children's and young adult literature and selects materials in multiple formats to support reading for information, pleasure, and lifelong learning; uses a variety of strategies to reinforce classroom reading instruction to address the diverse needs and interests of all readers.
Information and Knowledge
Selects, curates, promotes and uses physical, digital, and virtual collections of resources ethically and equitably; demonstrates knowledge of a variety of information sources and services that support the needs of the diverse learning community; selects and utilizes appropriate technology to track and secure materials in the collection; demonstrates the use of a variety of research strategies to generate knowledge to improve practice.
Advocacy and Leadership
Advocates for dynamic school library programs and positive learning environments that focus on student learning and achievement by collaborating and connecting with teachers, administrators, librarians, and the community; demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and professional growth; leads professional development activities for other educators; provides leadership by articulating ways in which school libraries contribute to student achievement.
Program Management and Administration
Plans, develops, implements, and evaluates school library programs, resources, and services in support of the mission of the library program within the school according to the ethics and principles of library science, education, management, and administration.
School library media professionals collaborate with classroom and subject area teachers to design, teach, and assess units of study that integrate information literacy, inquiry, technology, and subject area content. In addition, school library media specialists teach students the skills and dispositions needed for navigating, gathering, deconstructing and comprehending information. As program administrators with training in the selection of quality materials, school library media specialists build and maintain the library collection and guide teachers and students in selecting relevant and resonant resources in print or digital format, as well as digital tools for learning. In partnership with classroom teachers, they prepare students for the rigor of college level reading and research and provide practical strategies that benefit all students in the world of work. School library media specialists extend their work beyond the physical walls of the school library, providing curated online resources. As educational leaders, they participate in ongoing professional development in literacy, technology, and pedagogy so they can provide professional development and support for school wide initiatives and improvement plans.
The research is clear that there is a positive correlation between increased student achievement on standardized tests and having access to school libraries staffed by ND endorsed school library media specialists. Michigan schools are encouraged to provide school libraries and ND endorsed teachers of Library Media to their students. The SBE Statement on School Libraries calls for “all elementary and secondary students to have ready access to a library in their school with appropriate resources, programming and certified staff.” In Michigan’s implementation plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) "Access to a Librarian/Media Specialist" is included as part of the ESSA-required "School Quality/Student Success" accountability indicator for all schools without 11th and/or 12th grades.
Notes on Terminology
The terminology within this field can be confusing. School Libraries are known by many other names: Media Center, Learning Resource Center, Learning Commons, Innovation Lab, Information Commons, Resource Center, Library Media Center, and so on.
The terminology for educators working in these centers also varies. While the professional label in Michigan is Library Media Specialist, the national term is School Librarian and Michigan’s preparation standards use teacher of Library Media. Other common designations include School Library Media Specialist, Media Specialist, Teacher Librarian, Information Literacy Specialist, and Librarian.
All of these terms should be used only in reference to a person who holds a valid teaching certificate with the ND endorsement. Individuals who are employed in a school library who do not have this endorsement should be referred to as a paraprofessional (parapro), library technician, library assistant, and so on.
Additional MDE Information
Michigan and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Michigan’s Consolidated State Plan Under the Every Student Succeeds Act
American Library Association
Michigan Association for School Librarians