Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

School librarians as technology integration leaders: Enablers and barriers to leadership enactment
by Johnston, Melissa P., Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2011, 204; 3483677
Abstract (Summary)

The highly technological environment of 21st century schools has significantly redefined the role of school librarians by presenting the opportunity to assume leadership through technology integration. School librarians are continually directed to evolve as leaders in order to address the needs of today’s learners and ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. Despite the abundance of literature that has suggested the need for and the importance of school librarians to be a proactive leaders in technology integration, this role is one that has been ignored in the research arena and left undefined for school administrators, teachers, and the school librarians themselves, leading to uncertainty concerning how school librarians enact this role in practice.

The purpose of this study is to identify the enablers and barriers that accomplished practicing school librarians, or those who are National Board Certified, experience in relation to crafting a leadership role in technology integration. Based on a distributed leadership theoretical foundation that necessitates understanding how aspects of a situation can enable or constrain teachers in assuming a leadership role (Spillane, 2006), this study is guided by the proposition that there are factors that can enable or constrain leadership enactment. Findings indicate that the proposition is supported in a school library context in that the identification of these enablers and barriers does contribute to the understanding and definition of this leadership role for school librarians.

Existing unused data from two open-ended questions found at the end of a nation-wide survey of National Board Certified school librarians conducted by the PALM Center at Florida State was examined utilizing secondary data analysis. Since this study serves as the initial investigation of the enablers and barriers the use of open-ended questions allowed participants to identify enablers and barriers with out imposing any preconceived categories to limit their responses. The responses were analyzed to identify the enablers and barriers, as well as relationships to the respondent’s level of involvement in technology integration leadership. Participant responses were coded and categorized based on a teacher leadership framework, Zinn’s Four Domain of Supports and Barriers to Teacher Leadership (Zinn, 1997).

Findings indicate that the most frequently occurring enablers facilitating accomplished school librarians’ technology integration leadership are a supportive principal, opportunities for leadership role and responsibilities, the desire to make a difference for students and teachers, professional development opportunities, and a sense of obligation to get involved. While the barriers identified most frequently as constraining technology integration leadership are time, exclusion from a leadership role and responsibilities, lack of funding, and inadequate staffing.

Enablers unique to school librarians discovered include: support from professional organizations, support from district library administrators, serving in a dual role as school librarian and technology specialist, and technology expertise. Also resources such as a flexible schedule, a full-time clerk, funding for technology and digital collections, up to date functioning technology equipment, and technical support were found to enable school librarians in technology integration leadership. While barriers identified by school librarians involve: competitive relationships with instructional technologists, lack of support at the district level from a library administrator, and lack of technology expertise. Also resources such as a fixed schedule, inadequate staffing, lack of funding for technology and digital collections, out of date technology equipment, and lack of technical support were found as barriers.

This study addresses a gap in the existing school librarian research by examining the leadership roles and the leadership practices of the school librarian in technology integration within a teacher leader framework and the resulting adapted framework, Johnston’s Domains of Enablers and Barriers to School Librarian Technology Leadership, is a contribution to the school librarianship literature as a framework for future research examining the leadership roles of the school librarian. The identification of the enablers and barriers that accomplished school librarians experience enacting a leadership role is valuable information for school library preparation professionals in order to better prepare future school librarians to assume an active leadership role, contributes to the understanding of this role, and serves as a foundation on which to build research-based strategies to support practicing school librarians seeking to overcome barriers, and conversely, distinguishing those factors that enable this vital role to be achieved in practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Everhart, Nancy
School: The Florida State University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Library science, Educational leadership
Keywords: Leadership, Library media, School librarians, Technology integration
Publication Number: 3483677
ISBN: 978-1-124-98352-3
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