School librarians develop, organize and maintain school library collections.
They search for information, arrange for loans, handle library materials and
arrange for their use in the classroom.
But school librarians, also known as media specialists in the U.S., do
much more than traditional librarians. They teach students how to search for
different types of information and how to evaluate it. In short, they teach
research skills and media literacy.
Irene Clise is a media specialist in Washington state's public school system.
She has written several articles about her profession. She now teaches at
the University of Washington. She says school librarians show students how
to question information, its sources and any agenda behind it.
"They are really working with students to help them understand [information]
better," says Clise.
School librarians also help other teachers be more effective. They show
teachers how they can maximize the use of library resources and media equipment
in their classrooms. That requires them to have a good grasp of whichever
subject is being taught.
The working hours of school librarians are often the same as school hours.
These librarians get a good part of the summer off. But working hours can
vary, says Clise. School librarians have to keep up with new technology. That
means they may have to attend seminars and other educational events on weekends.
They may also have to spend a lot of time outside regular working hours
looking for new library material, Clise says.
The physical requirements of this job are minimal. Clise says the profession
is pretty accessible to people with physical disabilities. "It helps being
mobile, but it wouldn't be required," she says.
Organize the library collection and help teachers and students
make use of it
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