Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Laurie Brantley-Dias

Second Advisor

Nancy Brown

Third Advisor

Brendan Calandra

Fourth Advisor

Amy Flint


The roles of the person who works in a school library, as well as their title - librarian, teacher-librarian, library teacher, library media specialist, school librarian, library media teacher - have undergone countless revisions since the first official school libraries opened their doors in the early 1900s. Although school library media specialists (LMSs) have struggled to negotiate their identities in public K12 education for decades, this "identity crisis" seems to have reached a critical point due to changes in U.S. learning environments brought about by federal legislation, the implementation of standards-based teaching, the emphasis on standardized criterion referenced testing, and the proliferation and ubiquitous use of computers and the Internet as information sources. Although teacher identity has been thoroughly studied, the ways in which LMSs describe themselves in their professional role and how their identities change from pre-service to in-service are rarely investigated. Using Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, and Cain’s (1998) theory of identity and their concept of figured worlds as a framework, this study explores how four novice LMSs negotiated the identities made available to them in the figured worlds of their public K12 school environments.

The following questions guided the study:

1. How do novice library media specialists describe their professional identities?

a. How does personal history inform the construction of professional identity of novice library media specialists?

b. How do novice library media specialists negotiate identity within the figured worlds of public K12 schools?

The four participants were first year LMSs recruited from a large urban school district in the southeastern United States. Data collection took place over the course of the 2011-2012 school year and included in-depth interviews, document analysis, journal responses, and observations. Findings indicate that the figured worlds in which novice library media practitioners begin their careers are often shaped by the experiences that faculty, administrators, and students have had with previous LMSs and bear significant influence on the identities afforded new LMSs as well as their own experiences with LMSs prior to their preparation programs.