Library Media Program

Information for Cooperating Librarians

During the course of the practicum, you may hear from the following people:

Practicum Coordinator and University Supervisor:
Jenni Petersen
Educational Foundations, Winther Hall
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 
Whitewater, WI 53190

Office of Field Experiences:
Mr. Fred Trotter, Director
Ms. Alice Schwartz, Program Assistant
Office of Field Experiences, Winther Hall 
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 
Whitewater, WI 53190

Basic Practicum Information

Student Benefits

The purpose of the library media practicum is to help students apply their university coursework to real-world practice to see how it all functions in the schools and public libraries. To do this, we want to develop relationships between exemplary practicing professionals and the library media program in preparing these new librarians for their first job.

Cooperating Librarian Benefits

The school or library site will benefit by having an additional trained pre-service professional contributing to the library's program and bringing ideas from coursework and personal experiences. Many cooperating librarians say they enjoy the opportunity to discuss professional issues with a pre-service student and see their program through another's eyes. Others describe their personal satisfaction in helping to train new librarians.

University Benefits

The university strives to keep abreast of the most recent developments in school and public libraries and tie its program to the real world. The practicum experiences provide both information on what is really happening in the schools as well as provide feedback on how well the program's coursework is meeting the needs of the school and public libraries. The cooperating librarians provide a valuable service by evaluating the students' preparedness which feeds back to program improvement. The students provide feedback through their logs and performance on their practicum projects.

Whereas the majority of the practicum experience should take place within the designated library setting, the cooperating librarian should feel free to have the student visit other schools in the district for an overview of the entire program. He/she should also feel free to expect the student to attend meetings or other professional activities as part of the experience.  One day of a professional conference could be considered part of the practicum experience. For current teachers or emergency-licensed librarians, conference attendance should not occur during the 40-hour placements at other schools.

No more than one to one and a half hours of the day should be after-school time. A student may not do a practicum entirely after school. Each segment of the school year has something to offer the students, but we strongly prefer that the experience not include either the first or last week of school. 

The cooperating LMS and the students should determine the hours the student is expected to be in the building and who to notify if he/she will be absent. He or she should also notify the university supervisor if planning to be absent. Any time absent must be made up, including snow days. The student is required to keep a log of the hours worked and what was done during each day of the practicum.

Professional liability coverage is provided by the State of Wisconsin under provisions of S.S. 165.22(6) and 895.46(1). This coverage protects student teachers and practicum students against claims from third parties for personal injury or property damage caused by negligent acts while performing within the scope of duties in a student teaching assignment.

Occasionally a student has problems either in performance or in personal issues in a placement. Bring any difficulties to the attention to the university supervisor as soon as possible. You should first try to resolve the issues locally, but the university supervisor may feel it is necessary to intervene.

If the student, cooperating library media specialist, and university supervisor have explored and implemented all appropriate courses of action without success, it may be necessary to institute a withdrawal from the placement. This is a serious action and should be undertaken only if other remedies don't work. The withdrawal may be without prejudice, probationary, or terminal as determined by the university supervisor and practicum coordinator. The policies and procedures are explained in the Office of Field Experience Handbook.


  • Set up the practicum placement: contacting a faculty member for site suggestions, making the initial contact at the school and obtaining the necessary signatures, getting the dates approved, submitting the completed paperwork for the formal application to the school to the Office of Field Experiences, registering for the appropriate course, and completing the Graduate School application form if necessary.
  • Work with the practicum coordinator and the cooperating librarian to develop practicum projects before the practicum begins. Share draft with the practicum coordinator and cooperating library media specialist for feedback. This must be approved before starting in the school.
  • The following documents are recommended as resource texts for the practicum. Most can be found at the practicum site.
    • Empowering Learners. AASL, 2009.
    • Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Information and Technology Literacy. Wisconsin DPI, 1998.
    • Standards for the 21st Century Learner.  AASL
    • National Educational Technology Standards for Students.  ISTE.
    • Information & Technology Literacy: A Collaborative Planning Guide for Library Media and Technology. Wisconsin DPI, 2002.
  • Work with cooperating library media specialist to plan activities. Take initiative to seek out a variety of activities and/or discussions based on the checklist (see student teaching, school, or public library checklist for activities) and the needs of the school.
  • Keep track of activities on the checklist (student teaching, school, or public library) for inclusion in the portfolio.
  • Notify the university supervisor of optimal times to visit. Especially note times the student will be working with students or teaching. This should be done as early in the placement as possible. At least one visit should be during a time the practicum student is working with students either in a class, small group, or individual setting. There should be some time that both the librarian and student are available for discussion.
  • Submit a log of activities to the university supervisor. This should be done via Canvas. The frequency of log submissions will be determined by the supervisor. 
  • Conference with the university supervisor and/or cooperating LMS during observations.
  • Request a conference with the cooperating librarian to discuss questions or issues as needed. Seek feedback from cooperating LMS on projects and other activities.
  • Reflect on activities and observations.
  • Attend meetings as appropriate.
  • Treat staff and students equitability regardless of race, color, gender, creed, religion, age, ancestry, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, or parental status.
  • Respect the privacy and confidentiality of students and staff.
  • Implement practicum projects. Some work on these projects may have to be done outside of scheduled time in the schools. Document results and include with reflections in the final electronic portfolio.

Students should be provided with increasing levels of responsibility to the point of being in charge of an activity or activities. It is at the discretion of the cooperating LMS as to the speed of this transition based on professional judgment of the student's knowledge and skills. If the cooperating LMS anticipates an extended absence on his/her part, the university supervisor should be notified. The practicum student should not be asked or required to function as a substitute teacher or librarian in the absence of the cooperating LMS or any other teacher in the school. The practicum student may continue with regularly assigned duties in the absence of the cooperating LMS when a fully qualified substitute teacher is present.

Additionally, cooperating librarians should:

  • Orient the student to the library and the school.
  • Delineate professional expectations for the experience (e.g., planning documents required, schedule, school policies)
  • Assist and advise the practicum student in planning, serving first as a model, then as a guide, and finally allowing independent planning by the student.
  • Act as a sounding board for the student.
  • Arrange a variety of professional experiences for the student (see student teaching, school, or public library checklist for recommended activities). We do not expect each experience will include all the activities on the checklist, but we would like the cooperating librarian to at least discuss briefly with the practicum student how each of them is handled.
  • Encourage independent planning and action in the student.
  • Act as a resource person for the student.
  • Discuss library policies and procedures with the student.
  • Observe the work of the practicum student and provide opportunities for the student to observe the librarian in action.
  • Provide oral and or written suggestions to the practicum student.
  • Provide opportunities for self-evaluation as well as observation.
  • Meet periodically with the university supervisor and/or the student to provide feedback.
  • Give input to university supervisor on final grade for the experience.
  • Complete the practicum evaluation form and write a letter of reference to be sent to the Office of Field Experiences with a copy to the university supervisor.
  • Report problems to the university supervisor in a timely fashion.
  • Provide a communication link between university and the cooperating librarian, clarifying the goals and procedures for the practicum and transmitting suggestions from the cooperating librarian to appropriate university personnel.
  • Orient new cooperating librarians to their roles.
  • Observe the practicum student and discuss progress. The practicum student will be responsible for setting up these meetings with the university supervisor at least a week in advance. The supervisor will discuss the student's progress with the cooperating librarian and the student at each of these meetings.
    • 140 hour school library practicum: two observations
    • 150 hour public library practicum: two observations
    • Student teaching: four observations
  • Confer with student and/or cooperating librarian (three-way or two-way conferences).
  • Act as a sounding board for the student.
  • Mediate between the student and cooperating librarian if conflict arises.
  • Assist in problem solving as necessary.
  • Assist the student to place into perspective the circumstances and events observed.
  • Discuss with practicum student the logs, projects, and other experiences.
  • Complete observation report for each visit.
  • Track the progress of the student, providing feedback.
  • Complete written statement of reference to be submitted to Office of Field Experiences and sent to student (Student must complete FERPA Release of Educational Records form to use this for a job reference).
  • Determine final grade for practicum (Satisfactory or Fail) in consultation with cooperating librarian.
  • Turn over practicum portfolio or link to practicum coordinator.
  • Inform practicum coordinator and Director of Field Experiences regarding special situations that may arise and areas of concern.
  • Coordinates the setting up of practicum placements the semester before the experience based on knowledge of school library programs and prospective cooperating librarians
  • Approves practicum agreements
  • Works cooperatively with the university supervisor in any problem situation which may develop
  • Coordinates assigning the final grade for the practicum
  • Provides communication between the Office of Field Experiences and the university supervisors


During the practicum experience, the cooperating librarian should have at least one experience observing the student teaching a group or working with students or public library users. It is generally best to have the student create some type of lesson plan before the lesson, so you can provide initial feedback. Consider the following areas in evaluating a lesson:

Planning and Preparation

  • Objectives clearly stated, match needs defined by teacher, and are aligned with state standards
  • Lesson fits with teacher's stated needs
  • Lesson content and activities take into account student differences in prior knowledge of content and information seeking, motivation, and learning preferences
  • Content covered is accurate, covers the main points of the skill, and adequate for student needs
  • Activities clearly tied to objectives, motivating, and well implemented
  • Technology is integrated as appropriate
  • Organization of content is clear and aligned to needs of the project
  • Materials handed out or used during lesson are well organized, appropriate to the skill being taught and level of student knowledge, and appealing
  • Grouping strategies fit with activities

Implementation and Interaction

  • Implementation of lesson with students clearly covers lesson plan, but is adapted as necessary based on observed student needs and interests
  • Strategies for getting and maintaining student attention are included
  • Student questions are clearly answered
  • Students given adequate time to practice skills with feedback
  • Students are on task throughout the lesson, strategies effectively used to motivate those who appear inattentive
  • Classroom environment is conducive to learning: expectations set, behavior monitored, appropriate behaviors reinforced and inappropriate ones remedied

Student Evaluation

  • Feedback provided to students
  • Techniques for determining student proficiency are realistic
  • Performance of all students is assessed (formally or informally)
  • Assessment of student learning tied to objectives


  • Student can self-assess what worked and what did not with potential improvements
  • Student can tie actions to learning theory

The cooperating LMS evaluation form is aligned with our program competencies and activities on the checklist. Instructions for completing the evaluation form and written statement of reference are included at the end of the form. The cooperating LMS can simply type this statement onto school letterhead, sign it, and return it with the evaluation form. Circle the number that most closely corresponds to your opinion on each of the following indicators.   These are overarching categories of competencies. You may not observe every aspect of a competency in every practicum experience, so you may be giving an overall assessment of the dispositions, skills and knowledge rather than achievement on one specific aspect of a category.   If there are any specific points under each indicator where you feel the student needs work, please note those by commenting in the appropriate area. If a particular indicator was not observed at all, select "undocumented". All students are expected to reach at least proficient level on all areas to pass the practicum. Please inform the university supervisor immediately if you feel a student will not reach this level on any area.

0 - Undocumented

1 - Minimal (Unacceptable)

2 - Basic (Unacceptable)

3 - Proficient (Acceptable)

4 - Advanced (Target)

No evidence or undocumented demonstration of competence; not applicable or not observed

Inability to meet expectation level or limited or inconsistent demonstration of competence; substantive competencies not demonstrated

Somewhat limited or inconsistent performance of one or more competencies; emerging toward level expected

Complete demonstration at level expected for person entering the field

Complete and outstanding fulfillment of all competencies; exceeds target expectations for those entering the field

Relevant points on the evaluation form should be used to to discuss personal and professional qualities with the practicum student and, at the last visit, with the university supervisor. The supervisor will discuss this form at the first visit. We would appreciate if you could complete them and return them to the Office of Field Experiences with a copy to the university supervisor by three weeks after the practicum is over, but no later than the last week of the semester before finals if possible. If this will not work for you, please inform the university supervisor immediately. The cooperating library media specialist should email this form along with the Written Statement of Reference to the Office of Field Experiences:

The cooperating library media specialist's written statement of reference is perhaps the most important document related to the practicum student's experience, especially for many school and district personnel. To provide the prospective employer with a useful document, the statement should include specific examples for general comments whenever possible. Feel free to consult with the university supervisor as you prepare your statement. Your participation in library media specialist preparation is indispensable. Your acceptance of the responsibilities involved in this and your expenditure of time and energy in working with a practicum student testify to your commitment to the profession.  

In composing your statement, you are encouraged to review the final evaluation form, noting especially areas of strength, weakness, and improvement.   In organizing your statement, it is recommended that you include sections:


Describe the nature of this placement, including description of the school, classes served, and students.  

Professionalism, dispositions, personal abilities

Describe the student's personal qualities you observed that will impact their suitability to be a school library media specialist.  

Knowledge and skills

Include information reflecting the categories of competencies included on the evaluation form, providing specific examples whenever possible to support generalized statements.

Potential as a library media specialist

Indicate whether or not you can recommend the practicum student as a viable candidate for a position. The statement should indicate the intensity of your recommendations (e.g., recommend, strongly recommend, very strongly recommend; adequate, fine, good, excellent, outstanding candidate). If appropriate you may want to include the level of position for which you are recommending this person (e.g., elementary, middle school, high school). You may want to indicate if you believe the success or effectiveness of the student as a beginning library media specialist will be enhanced by beginning teacher induction or mentoring.

Students have access to their letters of reference at the Office of Field Experiences. It is recommended that you provide the student with a print copy of this letter on school letterhead. The university supervisor will do a similar statement of reference based on observations, the student's log, and the practicum portfolio.

Each practicum will be assigned a pass/fail grade by the university supervisor in consultation with the cooperating library media specialist. Several factors go into determining this grade:

  • Cooperating library media specialist evaluation and letter of reference
  • University supervisor observations and letter of reference
  • Portfolio review by the university supervisor

The portfolio for each experience should include:

  • A copy of the approved practicum agreement: In addition, the university supervisor should mail or email this form with ratings and comments to the practicum coordinator 
  • The Written Statement of Reference from the cooperating librarian
  • The log documenting achievement of minimum clock hour requirements with reflections and activities
  • The completed checklist
  • All projects from the practicum agreement along with a reflection on the competencies achieved
  • A final self-assessment/reflection on competencies and checklist activities
  • Answers to the practicum questions

The portfolio submitted for licensure at the end of the practicum should include these pieces for all experiences.

The Office of Career Services follows a "self-credentialing" policy. This means the office does not collect, store or disseminate statements of reference for education majors. It is the obligation of students to retain copies of the final statements of reference written by university supervisors and cooperating teachers that may be required as part of an application for school positions. If the students wants to use these letters and/or have the cooperating library media specialist or university supervisor as a reference, they must complete an Authorization to Release Educational Records form under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This should be given to the LMS or supervisor who should keep a copy of the signed form. It is up to the discretion of the LMS or supervisor on whether or not to act as a reference.