Your School Library Media Specialist – Your School’s Utility Player

Posted · Add Comment

As you start the school year, consider the ways that you can maximize the use of your school librarian. Your school librarian is your school’s utility player. A utility player is one that can play several positions competently, similarly, your school librarian is also someone that can fulfill several educational roles. Today’s school library is more than a warehouse of books. Not only are digital resources found in school libraries, but Makerspaces, STEM/Innovation Labs and a judgment-free space, making the school library feel welcoming, comfortable and safe. School librarians, certified as School Library Media Specialists in New Jersey, are instructional partners, program administrators, educators and information professionals who work with classroom teachers to design learning experiences that promote inquiry, critical thinking and the development of life-long learning skills. 

In addition to building a school’s reading and literacy culture, school librarians, collaborate with other members of the instructional staff to lead instruction in information literacy and digital fluency to prepare students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and ethical digital citizens. These skills ensure college and workplace success. As your school’s information professional, your SLMS prepares students and faculty with a range of strategies to effectively use search engines, databases, networks and emerging information and communication tools to locate and evaluate appropriate, quality resources. These competencies to engage learners in productive inquiry encourage their active and ethical participation in a global society. 

School library media specialists are educated to instruct students and school staff in the integration of technology for knowledge building, knowledge creation, and communication. They carefully curate print and digital collections, and leverage a growing wealth of Open Educational Resources (OER) content to support the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and the school district’s curriculum, ensuring 24/7 physical and intellectual access to quality resources that reflect diverse viewpoints, the most authoritative information available and the digital tools learners need to ethically share their new knowledge. School library media specialists prepare learners with skills to critically evaluate credibility and authority of information resources across media formats–to understand perspective, discern bias, and to mediate truth. 

Addressing the importance of social and emotional learning, SLMS not only select library resources with divergent viewpoints, cultures, and experiences and but also teach students to take responsibility for seeking multiple points of view and global perspectives. School librarians contribute to developing a culture of innovation and creativity for students by delivering personalized learning experiences through the school library’s collaborative work spaces in an environment that allows for independent reading and learning and celebrates meaningful inquiry, the sharing of student voice, global connections and the value of both life-wide and lifelong learning. 

Working with all learners across grade, content and abilities, school library media specialists function as equity warriors. They create participatory learning spaces where all students are welcome. They provide materials and tools to bridge ability levels, language differences and socio-economic gaps. Partnering with classroom teachers, school librarians create cultures of reading, critical thinking and literacy, so that students become lifelong empowered learners. 

School library media specialists are your district’s utility players. As instructional leaders who ensure equitable access and learning opportunities while providing a safe and stimulating environment, they transform learning. 

See Attached Checklist for Range of Roles Served by School Librarians 

Interested in visiting a school with a strong library media program? NJASL and Rutgers University are sponsoring an opportunity to visit a variety of school library programs across grade levels and settings. The tours will be held on November 19, 20, 21. For more details visit: 

Looking to Hire a SLMS: Did you know you can hire a school library media specialist with emergency certification? The candidate needs a bachelor’s degree and has to have completed a minimum of 12 graduate-level semester-hour credits in school library media (page 165 of NJ certification guidelines – Also, please contact NJASL (, if you have a new posting as NJASL can share the job posting on their webpage and with their members. 

School Library Resources (Click on Link for Resources): 

  • NJASL document – School Librarians are Uniquely positioned to enhance student learning 
  • School Librarians Best Bargain 
  • AASL Standards Framework for Learners 
  • AASL School Library Evaluation Checklist 

The New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) is the statewide professional organization for school library media specialists. The organization promotes excellence in school librarianship and advocates for strong school library media programs for all students. NJASL provides school library media specialists with educational opportunities and current information aligned with state and national learning standards to ensure that all school libraries empower students, faculty, and staff to become effective and ethical users and producers of information. For more information on NJASL, visit or contact President Jill Mills,