Educational Design and Technology

Instructional Leadership

Teaching working with student at computer

Decisions in the school community that affect student learning benefit from the expertise of the library media staff and program



The role of the school library media specialist has progressed from that of librarian, or keeper of books, to master teacher, instructional design consultant, or teacher-librarian. Nickel (Mildred L.) listed twelve steps for the library media specialist to follow in order to play a key role in curriculum planning and development, including being aware of the total instructional program of the school; visiting classes as often as possible; knowing the current methods of teaching; becoming involved in the actual planning of the curriculum; conducting in-service for teachers; knowing bibliographies in the textbooks and adding books cited in them to the media center collection; and participating as a member of the instructional team.

Administrators expect that library media specialists will be master teachers who display through technique, methodology, and discipline that they are excellent teachers of students with regular and special learning needs and of their fellow teachers as well. The administrators expect the specialist to assume a leadership role, to influence the quality of instruction and the course of teaching and learning, not just in the library media center, but throughout the building.

Wehmeyer (Lillian Biermann) defined the instructional role of the library media specialist as consigliere-someone who is identified by and works closely with the principal and is an instructional leader on the basis of expertise. "The consigliere is an indirect instructional leader who interacts as a colleague with classroom teachers. Such change facilitators do not issue directives; rather, they ask, inform, model, suggest, and support."
[From: Pickard, Patricia W. Current Research: The Instructional Consultant Role of the School Library Media Specialist external link PDF file icon (96.5KB). School Library Media Quarterly, Volume 21, Number 2, Winter 1993. Available:]

Instructional Leadership: the ability to serve as a learning facilitator and a leader in the development of effective strategies for teaching and learning.
The candidate can:

  • Participate in the curriculum development process at the building level. 
  • Collaboratively plan with other faculty to provide instructional activities, opportunities and resources that respond to students' learning styles. 
  • Collaborate with teachers and instructional technology staff to assure that information and technology literacy is integrated into the curriculum. 
  • Plan for development of students' reading, listening, viewing and critical thinking skills. 
  • Plan for the development of students' information and technology skills. 
  • Motivate and guide elementary and secondary students in appreciating literature. 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of children's and young adult literature, including multi-cultural literature, as well as related media. 
  • Collaborate with teachers and instructional technology staff to plan and design instruction and to identify and gather appropriate instructional resources. 
  • Monitor, assess, and employ existing and emerging technologies for possible applications to the instructional program. 
  • Articulate clearly the role of the library media program in the educational program.


Additional Reading

Donham, Jean. Enhancing Teaching and Learning: A Leadership Guide for School Library Media Specialists. 2008. New York: Neal Schuman.

Nickel, M. L. . New Steps to Service: A Handbook of Procedures for the School Library Media Center. ALA, Chicago, IL, 1998.

Baker, D. P. The Library Media Program and the School. Libraries Unlimited, Littleton, CO, 1984.

Wehmeyer, Lillian Biermann. Indirect Leadership: The Library Media Specialist as Consigliere. School Library Media Quarterly, 15 (Summer 1987): 200.

Zmuda, A., and Harada, V. Librarians as Learning Specialists: Moving from the Margins to the Mainstream of School Leadership. Teacher Librarian 36.1 (2008): 15-20. 

Web Resources

10 Easy Leadership Ideas to Help School Librarians Become Leaders on Their Campuses http://www.lrs.org/documents/lmcstudies/10_easy_ideas.pdf external link PDF file icon (19 KB)

Hoerr, Thomas R. What Is Instructional Leadership? “Informative Assessment” external link. Educational Leadership, Volume 65, Number 4, December 2007/January 2008

Last Updated: January 27, 2015
January 27, 2015