As the leader of the school the support offered by the principal towards the library, and the teacher librarian, will have a direct bearing on the strength and success of the impact the library and librarian has on the school community. This support is offered by means of; the principals attitude towards the relationship between the teacher librarian and the staff, their presence in the library environment, and provision of finances to purchase resources. With principal support the library, and teacher librarian, will become an integral part of the school learning environment and not be perceived as a separate entity.
The attitude of the principal is overwhelmingly the most important aspect of principal support. From this will stem collaboration between teachers and the teacher librarian, positive student perception of the library and librarian as a resource for learning, and integration of the library into the greater school community. As mentors providing visibility and importance for the teacher librarians, supportive principals spoke highly of the teacher librarians in their schools and gave clear evidence that they trusted the teacher librarians’ knowledge and expertise. (Oberg, 2006).
When this type of support occurs the value of the library will be considered paramount. The teaching staff will be encouraged to collaborate with the librarian on matters of programing and the library will become an extension of the classroom. Principals of schools with well integrated, flexible programs demonstrate specific supportive behaviours during both implementation and maintenance phases of any restructuring. The attitude alone of the principal affects teacher – teacher librarian collaboration. (Haycock, 1996, 1999).
Tallman and van Deusen (1994) found in the United States and Haycock (1996) found in Canada that when the school principal expects team planning between teachers and the teacher librarian, whether as grade level groups or subject area groups, team planning occurs more than when the principal does not expect such collaboration. This will be of little surprise to teacher librarians, but it does point to the leadership issues and non monetary expectations that help to shape school culture. (Oberg, 2006). Teacher librarians plan more units with teachers regardless of the type of schedule if the principal expects team planning. Tallman and van Deusen (1994), Haycock (1996).
By having a regular presence in the library the principal will be confirming the value of the facility as part of the school environment. To speak with the students regarding benefits they are gaining through utilisation of the skills of the librarian, and use of the facilities, will give students the confidence that the principal supports the library environment.
Through collaboration of teachers with the teacher librarian a request for resources can be developed. This will lead to the purchasing of the most relevant equipment and learning materials to support the implementation of teaching programs. For all this to occur Teacher librarians must communicate effectively with their principals. (Oberg, 2006).
In summary, for an integrated library program to be included as part of the whole school learning environment the attitude of the principal will need to be positive, tactile, and encouraging towards the collaboration between the teaching staff and the teacher librarian.
Haycock, K. (1996). What works: Effective school administrator behaviours. Teacher Librarian, 23(3) (p.33.)
Haycock, K. (1999). Fostering collaboration, leadership and information literacy: Common behaviours of uncommon principals and faculties. NASSP Bulletin 83, (p. 82-87)
Oberg, d. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian; Feb 2006; 33(3); ProQuest Central. (P. 13-18)
Tallman, J. & van Deusen, J. D. (1994). Collaborative unit planning schedule, time, and participants : The 1993-94 AASL/ Highsmith Research award Study Part Three. School Library Media Quarterly, 23, (p.33-37)