A Librarian's Perspective: Why we need the Library Media Endorsement Program

 The Library Media Endorsement Program has had a bit of a bumpy ride in the last few months!  Along with many other endorsements, it was moved to a "Test Only" track in the spring of 2017. Recently, at the behest of the Washington Library Association, the endorsement was returned to its original status as a "Program + Test" endorsement. Kate Shelby-Martin, a veteran librarian and an adviser and supervisor to SPU's Library and School of Education for over 25 years, shares her perspective on the restoration of the program requirements. 

Library media specialists play a very specific role in promoting student learning by introducing them to multi-disciplinary and multi-modal resources and engaging students in using, critically evaluating, and creating projects with information in those resources. At the same time, Library Media specialists foster an important lifelong habit of reading for both learning and recreational purposes. Their role also includes championing equal access to materials and technologies for all students and guarding against censorship. This approach to learning is often even broader in scope than students’ regular classroom experiences as it ties critical thinking, technology and literacy together. 

Becoming a professional facilitator of this complex approach is not a skill set that can be reduced to individual study and testing. The six-course sequence and culminating field experience that comprise the SPU program provide both classroom and site-based experiences in instructional, curricular, administrative and technology leadership and, most importantly, the vital opportunity to explore current pertinent issues within a professional learning community.  For library media specialists to have the most positive influence possible on every student they encounter, the caliber of their training must be seriously constructed.

It is with great relief that I commend The Center for Professional Education at Seattle Pacific University for reviving the Library Media Endorsement Program so quickly after the state recently changed the endorsement pathway to ‘test only’ status and then, thankfully, reversed that decision. If the quality of teacher education affects student achievement, then the quality of teacher-librarian education, in turn, affects it equally. 

 Kate Shelby-Martin has a diverse background in education, having worked as music educator, an academic adviser, and an academic librarian in several locations around the U.S. She has also enjoyed a professional relationship with SPU for over 25 years, and has worked with both the SPU Library and the School of Education. She holds a Bachelor’s in Music, a Master of Library Science and a Master of Science from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Indiana University-Bloomington and the University of Oregon, respectively. She has a particular interest in the integration of information literacy with the writing process.