Leading for School Librarians: There Is No Other Option

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ALA Neal-Schuman
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A, E, G
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With the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), school libraries are poised for a potential turnaround. But there's only one way forward: school librarians must become leaders, fully interwoven into the fabric of the educational community. And to become a truly effective leader you've got to have a plan. In her new book, Weisburg builds on her decades of experience and mentorship in school libraries to offer a carefully crafted roadmap that guides readers step by step through the process of transforming into a leader, from becoming aware of what's at stake to learning and mastering the necessary skills for leadership. Using a pragmatic approach that acknowledges the challenges to come while also offering unabashed inspiration, this book

  • incorporates first-hand understanding of the dynamics of the educational environment, from the building to the district level;
  • begins by addressing common fears about taking on a leadership role, and shows how to move past them and gain confidence;
  • demonstrates how to build credibility among stakeholders and peers through strategic risk-taking;
  • discusses ways to rely on one's strengths to grow skills and expertise;
  • explains how to know when to lead and when to manage, plus the fine art of delegation;
  • gives pointers on communicating effectively, becoming visible, behaving ethically, maintaining a healthy life-work balance, and other important career issues; and
  • shows readers what it takes to move onto a larger stage and become a local educational leader who also has a presence on the state and national level.

By starting with the basics and then offering concrete ideas for moving forward, the book shows readers how they can slowly build their confidence and skills to become the leaders their students and the profession needs them to be.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

Foreword, by Susan D. Ballard

Part I    Safe First Steps to Leadership

Chapter 1    Why Be a Leader?

  • Accepting the Challenge
  • Roadblocks to Leadership
  • Qualities of a Leader
  • Measuring Up
  • Fear Factor
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 2    Getting Grounded

  • Who Are You?
  • Mission Statements
  • Vision Statements
  • Procrastination—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 3    Managing Classes in the Library

  • The Challenge—Part 1
  • Control vs. Management
  • Your Attitude Leads
  • Rules and Routines
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 4    Becoming an Expert Teacher

  • The Challenge—Part 2
  • Anticipate
  • Essential Questions/ Enduring Understandings
  • Creating a Climate for Questions
  • Assessing
  • Collaborate or Cooperate
  • Inquiry-Based Learning and Other Variations
  • Standards
  • Key Ideas



Part II     Building Your Leadership Skills

Chapter 5    Becoming a Leader

  • Developing Confidence
  • Identifying and Using Role Models and Mentors
  • Testing Your Leadership Skills
  • Being a Team Player
  • Imposter Syndrome and Self-Assessment
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 6    Uncovering Your Strengths

  • Five Bases of Power
  • Your Skill Set
  • Relationship Building
  • Being Likeable
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 7    Improving Your Leadership Expertise

  • To Do and To Don't
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Leading and Managing
  • Making Meetings Matter
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 8    Knowing How to Handle Important Communications

  • Communicating in Person
  • Written Communication
  • Digital Communication
  • Making a Presentation
  • Recognizing the Messages You Send
  • The IT Department and You
  • Key Ideas



Part III    Playing Larger

Chapter 9    Always Have a Plan

  • Your Brand and Taglines
  • Know Your Goals
  • Identifying Your Targets
  • SOAR Rather Than SWOT
  • The Strategic Plan
  • Showcase Your Advocacy Plan
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 10    Staying Visible and Vital

  • Empowering Stakeholders
  • Standards and Ethics
  • Staying Current
  • Seek to Innovate
  • Toolkits
  • Key Ideas

Chapter 11    Maintaining Joy

  • Writing and Presenting
  • Delegating
  • Giving Back
  • The Gift of Time
  • Key Ideas


Hilda K. Weisburg

Hilda K. Weisburg was a school librarian for over 30 years. Starting in 1980, she co-wrote and edited School Librarian’s Workshop, a bi-monthly newsletter for K-12 librarians. After 31 years in print, she became publisher and sole author/editor, making it an e-publication. She co-authored (with Ruth Toor) fourteen books for school librarians, including Being Indispensable: A School Librarian’s Guide to Becoming an Invaluable Leader (ALA Editions, 2011); School Librarian’s Career Planner (2013); New on the Job: A School Library Media Specialist’s Guide to Success (2014); and, most recently, Leading for School Librarians: There Is No Other Option (2017), which has been an ALA best-seller since publication. She has given presentations at AASL and state library media conferences and given staff development workshops in many locations. She teaches a graduate courses at William Paterson University and has taught one at Rutgers University. A past president of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, she is a past chair of the AASL Advocacy committee, chairs the Ruth Toor Grant for Strong Public Libraries, and serves on ALA committees. She was the recipient of AASL’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award.

”Useful for librarians entering the field and those who may not be as well versed in the research on leadership; a great read for teachers who have transitioned into librarianship but lack certification or a library school background."
— School Library Journal

"With her wisdom and knowledge about library work, Weisburg harvests insights from psychology, technology, business, and marketing to help any school librarian strengthen a library's identity and clarify its value to the community ... this is an essential book for reimagining the role of a competent, effective school librarian at a critical time of shrinking resources."

"This is a comprehensive book that includes valuable information for school librarians, no matter their level of experience. Any school librarian or school district could use this book to ensure that their librarians and library program are seen as indispensable."
— Reference & User Services Quarterly

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