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Library Media Specialists

History

In the past, fundamental teaching tools consisted of the classroom's books, maps, globes, and chalkboard. Educators in the early part of the 20th century began to realize that students and teachers needed more extensive, organized resource materials. Libraries in high schools developed first, and elementary schools developed their own libraries in the years after World War II. School librarians were frequently former teachers who made a midcareer change from running a classroom to running a library. As the number of school libraries grew and the need for librarians increased, more people began specializing in school librarianship as a primary career.

Traditionally, the school library contained mainly books and magazines. However, just as society itself has become more technological through the years—with the development of new methods of storing, organizing, and retrieving information—basic education principles have changed and developed. Even the name of the school library has changed to mirror these developments: Today a school may have a library media center, a learning resource center, or an instructional materials center. There is also much more sophisticated equipment now available to help teachers perform their jobs. For instance, many schools have computers with CD-ROM and DVD drives and access to remote sources of information on the Internet, in addition to many other sophisticated types of audiovisual equipment. It has become necessary for schools to employ trained professionals who are familiar with the capabilities of this equipment, and so the role of the school librarian has evolved into the role of the library media specialist. These professionals help teachers perform today's more complex teaching tasks by either instructing the teachers or teaching the students how to function in an increasingly technological world.