School Administrator's Toolkit

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

School Administrator's Toolkit



Back in the summer of 2014, TLA approached Terry Allegria Roper and Maria Elena Ovalle about the possibility of working on a resource to help school administrators recruit, hire, support, and evaluate school librarians.

The result of that wonderful effort - which garnerned statewide support from school library stakeholders - was an incredible array of resources.  From interview questions to a checklists for posting job descriptions to strategies for creating a vibrant school library program, the tool kit offers a wealth of resources.

The library of materials is availabe at: SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR'S TOOLKIT.

The article below was published in the Texas Library Journal (V. 91 no 1). It provides an overview of the resources.


Toolkit for School Administrators-Hiring and Retaining Librarians

By Terry Roper and Maria Elena Ovalle


“I don’t speak your language!”  Many school librarians and K-12 school administrators will admit that while they may have the same goals, it sometimes feels as if they speak a different language.  Principals are well-versed in all things teacher.  They have the tools, skills, and communications networks to recruit, train, and retain quality teachers, but when they are faced with the need for new school library personnel, they may not be as well-versed.

Texas school librarians have always dealt with a certain amount of ambiguity over their status or category in the education realm: teacher/ non-teacher, certified/non-certified.  This situation is due, in part, to the fact that Texas does not mandate certified school librarians. The Texas State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) does define clearly the criteria for certified school librarians. The Texas State Library and Archive Commission (TSLAC) promotes Standards for School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas (2005), a policy document which also offers clarity if you know where to look.

The Texas Library Association (TLA) recognized that it would be helpful to have a toolkit designed for school administrators and school HR departments to better inform them when hiring and retaining library personnel.

The intent of this project is to create a repository or toolkit of sample documents, templates, examples, question banks, and links to help K-12 school administrators navigate the shift from classroom teachers to teacher librarians.  We started planning for this resource by brainstorming a list of potential areas to include:  Where to post openings? Where do librarians look for jobs? What interview questions will elicit the best outcome for ensuring quality and qualified hires?  How can administrators effectively evaluate a librarian?

While many of these documents and procedures closely parallel the process for hiring a good teacher, some major aspects remain that apply to library services but not to classroom. Some of these areas include library budget management, collection development, technology integration, support of diverse areas of the curriculum, collaborating with teachers, and of course, circulating books and digital resources.  School administrator certification programs may not offer much guidance on these issues, so it is a ‘win-win’ to help busy principals gain insight and access to user-friendly information in non-library language.

The work on this project took place virtually using email, conference calls and collaborative Google Docs and Sites to work through the process and bounce ideas around. We started with a core group that networked with library colleagues across the state to get input on what types of information and resources administrators and HR departments needed to know, what links would be helpful as we developed this materials, and which sample documents and questions we could use or adapt. We polled groups including the North Texas Library Director’s group, contacts at the Education Service Centers, and others to make sure we were getting input broadly.  We were careful to ask permission to use sample documents and to strip any identifying information when requested.

The toolkit, still evolving, will contain several categories ranging from librarian communication channels (such as TLA’s own TLA listserv and LM_Net) and “idea/best practices” venues to support human resource materials. The goal is to provide administrators with information and access showcasing librarian collaborative forums, banks of sample interview questions they can pick and choose from, sample librarian evaluation forms, and links to Texas school library standards, certification information, and other policy issues.

The next steps in this project include categorizing the list of interview questions and adding some possible “ideal”’ responses or keywords as an aid for the administrator that does not recognize responses they might want to be aware of and sample job descriptions for both school librarians and paraprofessionals.

Our intent is that this will be a living resource with a broad range of contributors.  We must keep in mind the purpose and intended audience of this toolkit, so we will want to avoid too much ‘library’ language. Hmm, perhaps a very basic glossary as a basis for conversation during interviews that would explain terms like fixed versus flex scheduling, circulation, etc.  

We know Texas has many qualified and talented librarians seeking jobs and good school districts seeking librarians. We also recognize that librarians already employed must also work with their own HR issues. We are hopeful this toolkit will facilitate the recruitment and retention of school library personnel.

We have included materials from the toolkit: some sample interview questions and a rubric for library candidate interview questions

If you have information, ideas, or resources you would like to share, please contact us!


Terry Roper ( is a library consultant at Region 10 Education Service Center. María Elena Ovalle ( is the retired coordinator of library services and media for Region One Education Service Center.

Created on Jul 28, 2016 | Last updated June 25, 2018