Once upon a time there was a principal without a teacher librarian and a principal with a teacher librarian. The principal without a teacher librarian said he couldn’t afford a teacher librarian. He had a library technician, instead, with teachers bringing classes to the library to borrow. One day the principal without a teacher librarian was able to visit the principal with a teacher librarian. The principal without a teacher librarian was amazed by what the principal with a teacher librarian had going for his students by having a teacher librarian. But he was still adamant “that most schools just can’t afford to make that choice.”
We want to show him that he just can’t afford not to. Do we have to put a dollar value on student increased literacy and learning? How can we attach a dollar value to what we do as qualified teacher librarians? Why isn’t the research enough? Will increased NAPLAN results convince? How do YOU show your principal that you make a difference and are worth the extra cost?
One way is through evidence based practice. Ross Todd’s article The Evidence Based Manifesto in School Library Journal, 4/1/2008 describes this practice in detail, including how you can collect the evidence. “The value of a school library can be measured. Learning outcomes, as well as personal, social, and cultural growth, can be documented.” “For school librarians, the big question regarding EBP is, ‘Why do school libraries matter today, particularly in the context of an educational world that increasingly relies on diverse, complex, and often conflicting sources of digital information?'”
If you have been able to build evidence based practice into your library program, please let us know. In our armory of research, it could be one of our strongest weapons to show that principal without a teacher librarian that his students are very much the poor country cousins.