By Jeffrey DiScala, PhD Candidate
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
We are excited to share the latest news about our research concerning school library supervisors at the district level. In July 2011, a research team at the University of Maryland’s iSchool began a three-year workforce study funded by IMLS. The Lilead Project (rhymes with Iliad) includes a national survey of school library supervisors and an online community for individuals in that position. The goals of the Lilead Project are to learn more about the supervisor’s roles, responsibilities, challenges, needs, and qualifications. There has been little research on this position at the national level since the 1960s. Because the supervisor is in the best position within a school district to advocate for the improvement of library services, understanding more about supervisors is important for the success of school library programs.
Supervisors are difficult to study, in part, because they are hard to locate. Their titles and positions within the administrative structure vary by district. In a pilot study, 17 supervisors reported 15 different titles — director, coordinator, and supervisor among them. Some individuals worked in the library services department, others in instructional technology, media services, or another unit.
Pilot survey respondents gave excellent feedback, helping us to zero in on the most important questions to ask. We will be inquiring about services; access to principals and districts administrators; trends in budgets, staffing, and standards; and basic information about length of time in the supervisor position, qualifications, and other experience. The national survey will be conducted in fall 2012.
This summer we’re launching The Lilead Network, an online community where supervisors, who often are isolated from peers, can come together to share ideas, struggles, solutions, and best practices.
The survey and the online community will further our understanding of and communication with school library supervisors. We will share much more information with you as the study progresses. If you have questions, please contact members of the Lilead Project team at firstname.lastname@example.org.