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Libraries Transform: The Expert in the School Library: General School Librarian Competencies / Dispositions

Core Values

Ballard, Susan D. "Core Values: AASL at 65, A Reflection on and Affirmation of Enduring Core Values that Sustain Us." KnowledgeQuest, vol. 45, no. 1, Sept.-Oct. 2016, pp. 26-32. 

NOTE: KQ content opens without password after 2 years. Links provided, but you may need a password.

School Librarian Competencies based on the PSELs

Thank you to Susan Ballard for these adaptations that use the vocabulary of school administrators to describe the work of school librarians.

Original PSELs: National Policy Board for Educational Administration (2015). Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015. Reston, VA: Author. CC BY-NC-ND.

School Librarian Competencies - other sources

AASL. "L4L Sample Job Description Title: School Librarian." PDF file, 2010.

ALSC. Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries.” Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), 21 Sept. 2016.

American Association of School Librarians (AASL) - Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians (2010) The 2010 standards consist of five standards, each with four elements. The five standards are Teaching for Learning, Literacy and Reading, Information and Knowledge, Advocacy and Leadership, and Program Management and Administration. Each standard is followed by a rubric for use by reviewers, a research piece to support that standard, and references.

Ammons-Stephens, S., et al. “Developing Core Leadership Competencies for the Library Profession.” Library Leadership & Management, vol. 23, no. 2, 2009, pp. 63–74. This article provides an overview of the library literature addressing competency models, describes the process used to develop the competency model for library leadership, reviews competency models found in the literature of other professions, and discusses the proposed core competency model for leadership in our profession.

Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) - Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public LibrariesALSC, a division of ALA, recommends the following Core Competencies to all children’s librarians and other library staff whose primary duties include delivering library service to and advocating library service for children ages 0-14.

Colorado Dept. of Ed.  Highly Effective School Library Program with rubric. Colorado Dept. of Ed., 2016. Qualitative competencies and quantitative benchmarks for Colorado school librarians and library programs. 

National Policy Board for Educational Administration. Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. NPBEA, 2015. Council of Chief State School Officers, 2015. Developed by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration in association with the Council of Chief State School Officers the ten standards describe what effective school leaders should be able to know and do to lead high-achieving staff, schools, and students in the 21st century.

Shannon, D. M. The Education and Competencies of School Library Media Specialists: A Review of the Literature z. School Library Media Research, 2002. The role of school library media specialists and the competencies they need in order to succeed have changed and expanded over many years. This paper reviews research and other publications related to competencies and the preparation of school library media specialists.

YALSA. “YALSA's Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: Young Adults Deserve the Best.” Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), 21 Feb. 2017. Individuals who demonstrate the knowledge and skills laid out in this document will be able to provide quality library service for and with teenagers. Institutions seeking to improve their overall service capacity and increase public value to their community are encouraged to adopt these competencies. The competencies can be used as a tool to evaluate and improve service, a foundation for library school curriculum, a framework for staff training and a set of guiding principles for use when speaking out for the importance of services to teens in libraries.

Dispositions & Competencies Tree


Akers, Anne. “School Librarian Dispositions: Serving Two Masters.” Knowledge Quest, 13 Nov. 2015,    

Ballard, Susan.  “Directing the Dispositions.” Library Media Connection 27.6, 2009, p. 14.

Bush, Gail and Jami L. Jones. “Exploration to Identify Professional Dispositions of School Librarians: A Delphi Study. School Library Research 13 (2010). 

Bush, Gail and Jami L. Jones. “What Defines An Exemplary School Librarian? An Exploration of Professional Dispositions.” Teacher/Librarian May/June 2009, pp. 10-12.

Donham, Jean. “Mental Scripts for Nurturing Dispositions of Inquiry.” Teacher Librarian, vol. 43, no. 3, 2016, pp. 24–27.

Jones, Jami. “Dispositions of the Exemplary School Librarian.” Webinar. American Association of School Librarians (AASL), 26 Feb. 2016.

Jones, Jami, and Laura B. Long. “Dispositions of Exemplary School Librarians as Identified by Graduate Students.” Teacher Librarian, vol. 43.4, p. 8.

Kimmel, Sue C., Gail K. Dickinson and Carol A. Doll. “Dispositions in the Twenty-First Century Profession.” School Libraries Worldwide, vol. 18.2, 2012, pp. 106–120.

Martin, Ann M. “Section 2: Dispositions: Batman Saves the Day.”  Empowering Leadership: Developing Behaviors for Success. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, Chicago IL, 2013. 31-55.

Moreillon, Judi, Sue Kimmel and Karen Gavigan. “Educating Pre-Service School Librarians for the Instructional Partner Role: An Exploration into University Curricula. School Library Research , vol.17, 2014. 

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