5 Things You Want a Principal to Know About the School Librarian

Are you getting a new school principal? Job interviewing for a school transfer? Need to garner support for your position & the school library? Here are 5 things you'll want a principal—or anyone else—to know about you and the school library. | No Sweat LibraryToward the end of a school year, a School Librarian may decide to transfer to another school or leave the district for a librarian position elsewhere. In either case, a job interview with a school principal is around the corner. Alternatively, our school may get a new principal and we want her/him to know how to support the school library.

Even if we are not making a change, School Librarians nowadays must always be ready to defend our position within the school building, and in the district and the community. Sometimes a quick “elevator pitch” is enough, but at times we have to express our needs in order to serve the needs of our students and their school library program. This question can help us narrow our focus so we are, in fact, giving the “big picture” to those who can make a difference:

What 5 things do I want a principal to know about me, the School Librarian,
and about the school library?

1) I am a Teacher.

My primary role is as a teacher of information literacy. I have a set of National Standards which provide a framework for the knowledge and skills students are expected to master by the time they move on to their next school or future endeavor.

To fully integrate the information literacy curriculum into content-area lessons, I need to collaborate with teachers. Research shows that regular collaboration between the school librarian and other teachers greatly increases student achievement, so I need the principal to actively encourage faculty to collaborate with me. I document collaborations in reports and my end-of-year appraisal, and it would be helpful if the principal recommends that teachers tally their own collaborations with me.

Download this short PDF Library Lesson Collaboration Short Form from my FREE School Librarian Resources page. Make copies and keep stacked on the circulation counter, to use for a collaboration opportunity when a teacher comes into the library.

Image of single Library Lesson Teacher Collaboration Form. | No Sweat Library

click to enlarge

2) I need sufficient funding to maintain a quality school library.

yellow moneybag with dollar sign - A school librarian needs adequate funding for library collection developmentTo ensure student achievement, the school library collection—print, digital, and online—must be from authoritative sources, with current publication dates, and in support of student and teacher curricular needs. To maintain this quality, I need a budget that will provide for the acquisition of new resources and the replacement of out-of-date, lost, and damaged ones.

Most states have guidelines for the library budget and for a minimum number of materials. Here is an example of one state—Texas**—which falls about the middle of all U.S. States for library guidelines:

  • Resources budget for print and non-print materials=
    $5500 or $12.00 x Average Daily Attendance
  • Operational budget=6% of Resources budget
  • An Acceptable school library has a minimum of
    11,000(secondary)/12,000 (elementary) books or 12/14 books per student,
    plus at least 250 videos, 46 audios, 12 periodicals
  • Refresh annually at least 3% of materials, licensed databases, and other electronic resources, including audiobooks and eBooks.

I also need funds from the principal for building media that cannot be purchased with library funds. Such incidental audio/video/digital items include cameras or computer products that teachers check out for student projects.

3) Make my morning/lunch/afternoon duties in the school library.

For some students, these are the only times during the day they can come into the library to check out a book. Students may be sent to the library by morning-duty teachers to take make-up tests or to review videos or classroom presentations. For students on sports teams or with difficult home situations, these library times are a “homework hub” that allows them to keep up with school work. For project-based inquiry learning, this is also the best time and place for students to collaborate on projects!

Teachers rely on me to be available at these times to help gather materials for their classrooms or collaborate on lessons. This is also when I can sponsor a library club for students who like to help shelve books and other volunteer tasks. On busy days, this may be the only planning time I have to prepare library lessons for class visits.

Make a powerful statement to students and teachers that
the School Library is an important learning center in our school
by allowing me to be in the school library during these critical times.

4) I am a department head, even if I’m the sole library unit.

round table with 8 people around it - I need my principal to include me in various decision-making meetingsI need my principal to include me in various decision-making meetings, especially those that affect library use or curriculum and technology materials. I can provide a unique perspective that no one else can:

  • I am broadly familiar with every subject-area teacher’s curriculum.
  • I may be the most proficient technology specialist in the building.
  • Along with the custodian and school secretary, I have extensive knowledge of the physical building.
  • As the library program administrator, I have contacts in district offices and departments that can ease the acquisition of supplemental materials or equipment for classroom, school or extracurricular plans.
  • Library activities touch every subject and grade level, so I often see and hear more of student and/or teacher issues than others.

A principal will want to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and information a school librarian can provide to any committee or meeting.

5) The library may be empty, but I really am busy working.

Our principals need to know that School Librarians are busy even when the library is empty. We talk with vendors, purchase, and process new materials. We meet with teachers and work with students in the classrooms. We balance budgets and write reports. And more... | No Sweat LibraryBeing a School Librarian is a demanding job, as I must manage my time among the 5 areas of expertise that help me contribute to student success. Here are just a few of the “invisible” tasks that absorb my time when I’m not checking out or shelving books or teaching a lesson to students:

  • Teacher: create my Library Lesson Plans for student visits.
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  • Instructional partner: plan lessons with teachers, prepare materials for teachers, prepare student/teacher audio/video/digital projects.
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  • Information specialist: phone or meet with book and digital vendors, generate purchase orders for new print & digital materials and equipment, unpack, process, and shelve new print and audio/video materials for the collection, inventory materials and equipment in the library and throughout the building.
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  • Program administrator: manage the library facility, including scheduling, in an equitable manner according to need, balance the budget, generate reports on circulation, overdue books, library use, collaborative lessons, and curriculum that help you and me make decisions to benefit our campus.
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  • Education leader: update the library website, create and manage library print & social media communications to parents and the community, create presentations for staff development training, keep up with my own professional learning, and with library and educational trends.


To conclude, please remember that this isn’t about me, the School Librarian, but rather it’s to provide students with access to high-quality resources when they need them. And that can only happen when you understand that my needs are the needs of the School Library Program. When you support me in the above 5 ways, it is a dream come true!

If you like this article, you can download this 2-sided PDF document explaining the 5 important ways to best support the School Librarian and the School Library Program and give a copy to your principal. Image of the PDF document "5 Things You Want a Principal to Know About the School Librarian." | No Sweat Library

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**School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas. Texas State Library & Archives Commission and the Texas Education Agency, updated 2017. Accessed 8/15/2023.

Article updated from 2015.Join my mailing list to get a brief email about new posts on library lessons & management. You'll also gain access to my exclusive e-Group Library of FREE downloadable resources!

What’s a Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix & How Do I Use It?

What's a Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix & How Do I Use It? - School Librarians often struggle to create a cohesive library skills curriculum when subject area library visits are so unpredictable. Here's a visual organizer that lets you take control of your lesson planning and promotes collaboration with all content area teachers! #NoSweatLibraryWhen we become a School Librarian we don’t cease being a teacher. What changes, however, is how we plan and present our lessons.

  • We no longer have a standard curriculum that is presented chronologically on a daily basis.
  • We rarely have contiguous days with students, but rather random, irregular library visits.

How can a School Librarian teach Library Information Literacy Skills under such circumstances? We have to scaffold stand-alone topical lessons in order to gradually build up knowledge, so students receive a comprehensive program of Information Literacy instruction during the time we have them with us.

In short, School Librarians must integrate info-lit skills into every subject and each grade level during single class periods throughout the school year. How, then, might we effectively do this?


School Librarians need to support what students are studying in the classroom, otherwise, teachers won’t allow time for a library visit. And the only way to do that is to become familiar with everyone’s subject area curriculum. We don’t need to know course content to the depth teachers do, but we must familiarize ourselves with content area units and their assessments so we can discern when students need an information literacy skill (even if it’s not written down and the teacher doesn’t realize it). With such an overwhelming prospect, we must have a way to:

  • identify when a library lesson is needed for students, and
  • keep track of intermittent library lessons in order to progressively build information literacy skills.

When I faced this challenge, I determined the best approach would be to create a grid with different subject areas along one side and Library Lessons along the other side. I began on paper, but as I worked my way through subjects and grade levels, the grid became quite unwieldy, so I digitized it into a set of spreadsheets. After a few modifications and adjustments, I arrived at the finished product that I use even today: the No Sweat Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix.

No Sweat Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix - School Librarians often struggle to create a cohesive library skills curriculum when subject area library visits are so unpredictable. Here's a visual organizer that lets you take control of your lesson planning and promotes collaboration with all content area teachers! #NoSweatLibrary

The No Sweat Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix Template is now available through my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The No Sweat Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix Template contains 5 tabbed spreadsheet pages:

No Sweat Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix snip of tabs

  • a year-long Library Schedule page.
  • 3 pages for Grade Levels. (In my case, 6g, 7g, 8g, but you can add pages by copying a spreadsheet and rename tabs to align with your own grade levels.)
  • an Example sheet with some of my No Sweat Library Lessons entered to guide you through filling in your own information.

For each grade level spreadsheet, the Subject Area rows are listed down the left side, along with a row for Information Literacy and one for National School Library Standards. The Grading Period Week columns are listed across the top with a numbered row also between each subject. There is a separate block for each of the two semesters. By using the “Freeze” feature, you can slide the relevant time period up next to the Subjects column to make it easier to read. (See image below.)
Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix Grade Level sheets - Grade level pages of the visual organizer Template that lets School Librarians organize subject curricula and Library Lesson. #NoSweatLibrary


Colleagues have asked for specifics about the No Sweat Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix, so here’s how any school librarian can easily use the No Sweat template to fill in their own subject curricula and library lessons.


  1. Begin with a single subject area for your lowest grade level. I suggest beginning with your former classroom subject area, since that’s what you’re most familiar with, which will make filling in the Matrix much more intuitive.
  2. Using the subject’s curriculum guide or scope & sequence, enter content unit titles into the field for the week they begin. I italicize these to keep them distinct from my library lesson information.
  3. Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix snip of color blocks - Lesson color blocks of the visual organizer Template that lets School Librarians organize subject curricula and Library Lesson. #NoSweatLibraryLook through the guide/s&s for classroom assignments that would benefit from a library lesson or library resources. For the week you determine it’s needed, colorize the block (I make it the same color as the subject area) and type the Library Lesson or library resources needed.
  4. In the Information Literacy row, under the corresponding week, add the skills that are reviewed, expanded, or introduced. Or, add details about resources needed.
  5. When finished with one subject, grab another subject area guide/s&s for the same grade level, and fill in those units, then identify probable library lessons or resources. Continue doing this for each different subject at that grade level.
  6. Move to each grade level and fill in subject area units and possible library lessons & resources, until all subject areas at all grade levels are filled in.
  7. Once you have this preliminary Curriculum Matrix, pull out all Library Lesson Plans that you currently teach and, in the appropriate fields, fill in other lesson info and the National School Library Standards, which is now included on another tabbed spreadsheet to copy & paste into the other sheets as needed. I like to enter my lesson Title into the subject row and the lesson Theme or Learning Target into the Info-Lit row.

When you’ve finished your Curriculum Matrix, you’ll have a thorough picture of all subject area curricula and your Library Lessons. Now, do some analysis:

  1. Look over each grade level and compare the information literacy skills you taught for the prior grade level and what you will teach at the next grade level.
  2. Make notes in your current lesson plans if you can activate prior knowledge from previous grade level lessons before you introduce new skills.
  3. Make a list of specific Information Literacy Skills which you need to introduce or build with new Library Lessons.
  4. Make notes of where you need to expand the library’s print or digital collection to meet a curricular need you weren’t aware of.

Your Curriculum Matrix may occasionally need to be updated as standards and course curricula change, but if you keep up with it, you’ll always have a broad view of library visits and the Info-Lit Skills you cover for all your grade levels.

The Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix is a great tool to show your principal during evaluations, so s/he understands how valuable you are to classroom learning!


Collaborate with Teachers using the Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix - Use the No Sweat School Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix Template to plan Library Lessons with subject area teachers, and take a printout along when approaching them to schedule a library visit. They'll be convinced that collaborating with the School Librarian will benefit their students! | No Sweat Library
Creating the Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix is the easy part. Developing specific Library Lessons is a bit more challenging. The really hard part is convincing teachers that students will benefit from a Library Lesson! Here’s how I do it:

  • At the start of each grading period I use my Curriculum Matrix to view upcoming possible library lessons & resources for that time span. I select & print out enough of the Matrix so I can visit with those teachers and show them how important their place is in building Info-Lit skills.
  • I print out the related Library Lesson Plans—recurring or new—so I can show each teacher how I incorporate their unit Standards and activities as a focus for the library skills lesson. When only library resources are needed, I use my Library Lesson Short Form for Teacher Requests (available on my FREE Librarian Resources page) so the teacher can make any changes or additional requests.
  • I also select and print-out the relevant portion of the Library Scheduler spreadsheet.
  • I go to each subject area teacher during their conference period and show them the LLC Matrix and their Library Lesson Plan. I make it pretty easy for them to say “Yes, indeed, let’s do this!” Then I pull out the schedule to enter the teacher’s library visit, and they’re pretty impressed to see how busy a School Librarian really is! (For Short Form & resources I suggest a “quick lesson” so students know how to best use the materials.) 

You may be thinking, “Wait, shouldn’t we collaborate with the teacher before we create the Library Lesson Plan?” Uh, NO. In my experience, teachers who are unfamiliar with librarian collaboration can’t envision how we can help them. But, they’ll consider a library visit when we show them a concrete example of how we use their content to teach library skills that enhance classroom learning and increase student achievement. (Read my blog post, “How to Propose Library Lessons to Teachers ,” to learn more about this!)


Once you’ve completed your Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix, I know you’ll rely on it to develop your lessons and purchase resources. When colleagues, teachers, and administrators see this tool, your professional standing with them will skyrocket!

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My Teacher Collaboration Form is available for download from my FREE Librarian Resources page! My No Sweat Library Lesson Planner Templates are available for download from my FREE Librarian Resources page!
Image of single Library Lesson Teacher Collaboration Form. | No Sweat Library NoSweat Library Lesson Planner Template - page 1
Learn more about using my Library Lesson Planner Template from these blog posts:
Short, Simple, and Relevant School Library Lessons
How to Build a High Quality, Standards-Based School Library Lesson
The No Sweat School Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix Template is available from No Sweat Library, my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The No Sweat Library Lesson Curriculum Matrix product is designed as a set of spreadsheets for School Librarians to enter subject-area units & their assessments for each grade level to determine when a library lesson or resource is needed. | No Sweat Library

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