We’re all familiar with librarians and what they contribute to our schools and communities, but have you ever heard of a media specialist? Because of shrinking budgets and expanding curriculums, more and more is being asked of school librarians. This includes responsibilities that would typically fall to a media specialist. Although many librarians are expected to fill both roles, these jobs are inherently very different.
What is a media specialist?
Media Specialists, as their name suggests, work with multimedia equipment. They often help to advise librarians, teachers, and staff on ways that media can enhance learning and presentations to better engage with students.
According to the Princeton Review: “A media specialist is a type of teacher who works with multimedia equipment to make classes, presentations, and lectures more vibrant and exciting. They are sometimes called library media specialists, and, like librarians, they help teachers and lecturers choose and locate audiovisual aids that are used in classrooms, training sessions, conferences, seminars, and workshops.”
Media specialists also seek out new technologies for schools and classrooms. They help to find information for students and staff and can be a big asset by assisting with research. Overall, they help to sort and manage the library's media sources and bring learning to life with technology.
What are the education requirements to be a media specialist?
The education requirements for these two careers vary greatly. For school librarians, the requirements are different for each state. In many states, school librarians are required to have a bachelor’s degree in education and a master's in library science.
The requirements for a school media specialist are a little different. It can vary by school, but most require a bachelor's degree in instructional technology or educational media as well as a master's in library science, library media, communications, or something similar.
What are the benefits of media specialists in schools?
According to the American Library Association, “When library media specialists work with teachers to support learning opportunities with books, computer resources, and more, students learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized test scores than their peers in schools without good libraries.”
School media specialists bring learning to life by adding a multimedia element to the classroom. In schools without designated media specialists, often these responsibilities are designated to librarians and teachers. A school media specialist can help to engage with students, add some flare to the learning environment, and support staff and teachers.
Do school librarians and media specialists work together?
Yes, school librarians and media specialists work together to support each other and to help school libraries run smoothly. Media specialists also partner with classroom teachers and other staff around the school and district.
Overall, while school librarians and media specialists may have some similar responsibilities, the purpose of their roles is quite different, and they work best when supporting each other.
At JLG, we are passionate about supporting libraries and educators of all types. Check out our website to see how a JLG membership can support your school library.