SCHOOL DISTRICT LIBRARY SUPERVISORS AND THEIR ROLE IN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR BUILDING-LEVEL SCHOOL LIBRARIANS: A BASELINE STUDY
Weeks, Ann C.
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The advent and ubiquity of mobile technologies, the Internet, and broadband have allowed people to access, use, and create a seemingly endless amount of information in unprecedented ways. This has led to an information world that is more connected, more complex, and more overwhelming than ever before. For children, learning how to use these 21st century advances is important not only for their current needs in and out of school, but also for their future as they go on to college and enter the workforce. As information specialists, school librarians play a unique role in ensuring students are equipped to access, use, and create information in ways that are meaningful and productive. However, with the ever-changing landscape of technology and the multiple literacies now necessary for children’s success, school librarians need to remain current in their knowledge and skills related to these topics. Continuing professional development (PD) is a way for practicing school librarians to stay up-to-date on digital literacies and information and communication technologies (ICTs) so that they are able to be the information specialists and experts the students in their school communities need. Using Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Framework for Human Development (1977, 1988, 1994) and what the education literature states is effective PD as the foundation, this dissertation first describes the multiple parties responsible for the effective PD of school librarians. It then examines the role that one party responsible in librarians’ PD, school district library supervisors, play in the planning and implementation of PD for building-level school librarians through a nationwide survey of 267 library supervisors and semi-structured follow-up interviews with 8 supervisors. School district library supervisors are those individuals who work at the district-level and are generally responsible for creating and providing PD for building-level school librarians. This dissertation is a first attempt at illustrating what PD looks like for school librarians in districts nationwide and to compare what is being done to what the literature says are effective means of PD. Findings show that supervisors are providing PD for their librarians that adheres to at least one or two of the characteristics of effective PD. Supervisors are using the affordances of technology to create avenues and spaces for their librarians to connect and collaborate with each other. Findings also showed that the content of PD sessions were widely varied and ranged from more traditional library skills that focused on traditional literacy and administrative skills to more current topics such as makerspaces and digital literacy. As a whole, supervisors revealed a need to grow in the areas of providing long-term PD for their librarians and creating a coherent plan for the PD they provided. This study also illustrated several conditions that facilitate effective PD, including having a culture of continued learning with leaders who support this growth and a budget to support these PD activities. These findings provide an initial look into the PD that is offered to school librarians as planned by the district-level library supervisor and the areas in which PD for librarians can be improved.