Early-Career School Librarians’ Use of Information Literacy Skills to Master their Information Needs

Information literacy is a tenet of school librarianship (ALA & AECT, 1988, 1998; AASL, 2018a, 2018b). Although most school librarians were once classroom teachers, these individuals do not always possess adequate information literacy skills (Burchard & Myers, 2019) even though it has been shown that the students of teachers, who possess these skills, have higher levels of information literacy themselves (Solmaz, 2017).

Do students leave library school with the skills to answer their own information needs? Does preparation for the profession encompass essential skills necessary for success (Whitton, 2019)? In this paper, authors will provide a holistic view of the responsibilities and information necessary to meet those responsibilities while sharing selected results from a recent study exploring the professional information needs of early-career school librarians and library school students wishing to become school librarians. Utilizing a mixed-method approach, we used surveys and interviews to explore and understand the information needs of participants as well as ways they met those information needs.

Initial results revealed the source of support for these early career professionals resided in participation in professional learning communities and networks, whether ad hoc or more formal. Early-career school librarians relied on the mentoring found in these groups to ensure their success. Responsibility lied with the employer and preparation program to build on students’ and early-career school librarians’ inherent and emerging information literacy skills to foster expertise. We anticipate that additional analysis will aid school library preparation programs and school administrators in developing a more strategic approach to supporting the success of the future and early-career school librarian.


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Heather Freas Adair, Ashley B. Crane, Elizabeth Gross
Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA

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