Reflection on the role of the Teacher Librarian

How has my view of the role of the teacher librarian changed during this subject? 

When I started working as a teacher librarian I had no training or experience in the role and had been a primary school classroom teacher for 18 years. I entered the library, my new workplace, and was instantly captivated with the endless possibilities to make it all the things I thought a school library should be. I thought to myself, ‘I’m good at organising books and resources so teachers and students can find them! I love reading and sharing children’s literature! I love decorating! This is the job for me!’

Prior to fulfilling this TL role I regarded the school library as a place where children liked to visit and borrow books to take home. I didn’t consider all the other roles the teacher librarian position encompassed, especially the teaching role. This was due to my experiences of delivering classes to the library and leaving them in the librarian’s care for an hour once a week while I had release from face to face. This happened at one school where I worked for 14 years, my next school where I taught for 3 years and also at schools where I taught as a casual relief teacher.

I found the Statement on Teacher Librarian Qualifications (ASLA, 2009) and the Teacher Librarian Role Statement (SLASA, 2008) useful in increasing my understanding of the role the teacher librarian plays. The Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians (ASLA/ALIA, 2004), also added to my understandings. Henri (1996) reaffirms the importance of retaining the word ‘teaching’ in the title of Teacher Librarian.

Now I see the role of the teacher librarian as:

  • A teacher and educator involved in programming, teaching and assessing and is responsible for literacy and information literacy skills development and the promotion of literature. ‘Teacher librarians, as collaborative teaching partners, support teaching and learning programs in information literacy, recognising that students need to be inspired, challenged and empowered with new knowledge.’ (Smith, 2013)
  • A resource manager who develops the school collection to suit the needs of teachers and students and manages both the physical and virtual environment. Gibbons(2013) states that ‘a good school library supplements the prescribed curriculum with that other curriculum, the world of favourite books, comics, DVDs and websites’.
  • An information specialist who makes information available for students and teachers. ‘Eventhough inquiry is a natural process for children, TLs need to help students with information retrieval through questioning and scaffolding.’ (Lupton, 2012)
  • A collaborator who is a partner in curriculum planning and design, a resource creator who re-shapes tasks to suit the learners. Purcell (2010) discussed TLs being ‘instructional partners’, helping teachers develop the curriculum further.
  • A leader who leads by example. eg. Implementing a guided inquiry approach to learning.

I have learnt that a school library should be a combination of both a learning centre and a place to enjoy books. Students, teachers and teacher librarians need to work together to access and use information. Libraries should not be as Thomas Frey describes ‘just storehouses for books’. The library is best described by Alan Gibbons(2013) as ‘the temple of information, research and narrative.’

The Library Policy for Schools (2012), states that the school library is to enhance teaching and students’ learning within the total program of the school by providing opportunities for students to develop information skills. Through my readings, forum interactions and reflections on my blog postings I have been able to share my thoughts, ideas and successes and learn how others are putting these ideas of guided inquiry into practice in their schools.             

I have learnt that a teacher librarian benefits greatly from collaborative teamwork with classroom teachers and most importantly the TL requires support from the school principal in order to make the library an asset to the school. ‘Principals determine the quality of the library program as much as the teacher librarians do because they influence and control factors which directly affect the library, such as adequate budget for resources and staffing, flexible timetabling and teacher collaboration. (Smith, 2013) Principals interested in developing their school libraries as ‘instruments of school improvement’ should support their teacher librarian in their role as specialised educators. (Hartzell, 2003) Anne Bailey (2013) discussed on the CSU forum, Topic 2, the benefits of principal support. She discussed how collaboration with the principal on the specifics of the library program has improved learning outcomes for her students.

 In conclusion, a well-managed school library can be the hub of the school, not just a place where lonely students come to read in their haven. ‘A school library can be a place of learning, a place where students and teachers search first for information.’ (Lonsdale, 2003)

References

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2009). Statement on teacher librarians in Australia Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/teacher.librarians.Australia.htm

Australian School Library Association, & Australian Library and Information Association (ASLA/ALIA) (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm

Bailey, A. (2013) Charles Sturt University.[ETL 401 Teacher Librarian]. csuInteract. Retrieved  from author website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401

Frey, T (2010) The Future of Libraries: an interview with Thomas Frey. Retrieved from: (http://www.futuristspeaker.com/2010/07/the-future-of-libraries-interview-with-thomas-frey/)

Gibbons,A. (2013) Beating heart of the school. Retrieved from http://heartoftheschool.edublogs.org/

Hartzell, G. (2003). Why should principals support school libraries? Curriculum leadership: Education Services Australia. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/why_should_principals_support_school_libraries,4639.html?issueID=9691

Herring, J. E. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literay: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1),17-28.

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: A review of the research. Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Lupton, M (2012) Inquiry learning and Information Literacy. Retrieved from: http://inquirylearningblog.wordpress.com/about/

Lupton, M. (2013). Inquiry learning and the Australian Curriculum: Voices of the Australian Curriculum 2013: Explore, Inquire, Collaborate. SLANSW Teacher Librarian Seminar Network. Retrieved 9th March, 2013.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2007). Information skills in the school. School Libraries and Information Literacy. Retrieved from: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/index.htm

New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (2012). Library Policy-Schools. Retrieved from: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/curriculum/schools/libraries/PD20050221.shtml?query=Library+policy+

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right?: A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.

School Library Association of South Australia (2008). SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html

Smith, L. (2013, 29th April) Online learning journal: The role of the Teacher Librarian and Principal Support. Retrieved from: http://lindalibrariansmith.wordpress.com/2013/04/

Smith, L. (2013, 13th May) Online learning journal: Information Literacy is more than a set of skills. Retrieved from: http://lindalibrariansmith.wordpress.com/2013/04/

Todd,R. Henri, J & Rowan,L (1996) Opinions on the future of Teacher Librarians and school library services. Retrieved from http://www.warriorlibrarian.com in discussion paper titled The Role of the TL by Credaro,A.

 

 

 

How has my view of the role of the teacher librarian changed during this subject? 

When I started working as a teacher librarian I had no training or experience in the role and had been a primary school classroom teacher for 18 years. I entered the library, my new workplace, and was instantly captivated with the endless possibilities to make it all the things I thought a school library should be. I thought to myself, ‘I’m good at organising books and resources so teachers and students can find them! I love reading and sharing children’s literature! I love decorating! This is the job for me!’

Prior to fulfilling this TL role I regarded the school library as a place where children liked to visit and borrow books to take home. I didn’t consider all the other roles the teacher librarian position encompassed, especially the teaching role. This was due to my experiences of delivering classes to the library and leaving them in the librarian’s care for an hour once a week while I had release from face to face. This happened at one school where I worked for 14 years, my next school where I taught for 3 years and also at schools where I taught as a casual relief teacher.

I found the Statement on Teacher Librarian Qualifications (ASLA, 2009) and the Teacher Librarian Role Statement (SLASA, 2008) useful in increasing my understanding of the role the teacher librarian plays. The Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians (ASLA/ALIA, 2004), also added to my understandings. Henri (1996) reaffirms the importance of retaining the word ‘teaching’ in the title of Teacher Librarian.

Now I see the role of the teacher librarian as:

  • A teacher and educator involved in programming, teaching and assessing and is responsible for literacy and information literacy skills development and the promotion of literature. ‘Teacher librarians, as collaborative teaching partners, support teaching and learning programs in information literacy, recognising that students need to be inspired, challenged and empowered with new knowledge.’ (Smith, 2013)
  • A resource manager who develops the school collection to suit the needs of teachers and students and manages both the physical and virtual environment. Gibbons(2013) states that ‘a good school library supplements the prescribed curriculum with that other curriculum, the world of favourite books, comics, DVDs and websites’.
  • An information specialist who makes information available for students and teachers. ‘Eventhough inquiry is a natural process for children, TLs need to help students with information retrieval through questioning and scaffolding.’ (Lupton, 2012)
  • A collaborator who is a partner in curriculum planning and design, a resource creator who re-shapes tasks to suit the learners. Purcell (2010) discussed TLs being ‘instructional partners’, helping teachers develop the curriculum further.
  • A leader who leads by example. eg. Implementing a guided inquiry approach to learning.

I have learnt that a school library should be a combination of both a learning centre and a place to enjoy books. Students, teachers and teacher librarians need to work together to access and use information. Libraries should not be as Thomas Frey describes ‘just storehouses for books’. The library is best described by Alan Gibbons(2013) as ‘the temple of information, research and narrative.’

The Library Policy for Schools (2012), states that the school library is to enhance teaching and students’ learning within the total program of the school by providing opportunities for students to develop information skills. Through my readings, forum interactions and reflections on my blog postings I have been able to share my thoughts, ideas and successes and learn how others are putting these ideas of guided inquiry into practice in their schools.             

I have learnt that a teacher librarian benefits greatly from collaborative teamwork with classroom teachers and most importantly the TL requires support from the school principal in order to make the library an asset to the school. ‘Principals determine the quality of the library program as much as the teacher librarians do because they influence and control factors which directly affect the library, such as adequate budget for resources and staffing, flexible timetabling and teacher collaboration. (Smith, 2013) Principals interested in developing their school libraries as ‘instruments of school improvement’ should support their teacher librarian in their role as specialised educators. (Hartzell, 2003) Anne Bailey (2013) discussed on the CSU forum, Topic 2, the benefits of principal support. She discussed how collaboration with the principal on the specifics of the library program has improved learning outcomes for her students.

 In conclusion, a well-managed school library can be the hub of the school, not just a place where lonely students come to read in their haven. ‘A school library can be a place of learning, a place where students and teachers search first for information.’ (Lonsdale, 2003)

References

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2009). Statement on teacher librarians in Australia Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/teacher.librarians.Australia.htm

Australian School Library Association, & Australian Library and Information Association (ASLA/ALIA) (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm

Bailey, A. (2013) Charles Sturt University.[ETL 401 Teacher Librarian]. csuInteract. Retrieved  from author website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401

Frey, T (2010) The Future of Libraries: an interview with Thomas Frey. Retrieved from: (http://www.futuristspeaker.com/2010/07/the-future-of-libraries-interview-with-thomas-frey/)

Gibbons,A. (2013) Beating heart of the school. Retrieved from http://heartoftheschool.edublogs.org/

Hartzell, G. (2003). Why should principals support school libraries? Curriculum leadership: Education Services Australia. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/why_should_principals_support_school_libraries,4639.html?issueID=9691

Herring, J. E. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literay: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1),17-28.

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: A review of the research. Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Lupton, M (2012) Inquiry learning and Information Literacy. Retrieved from: http://inquirylearningblog.wordpress.com/about/

Lupton, M. (2013). Inquiry learning and the Australian Curriculum: Voices of the Australian Curriculum 2013: Explore, Inquire, Collaborate. SLANSW Teacher Librarian Seminar Network. Retrieved 9th March, 2013.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2007). Information skills in the school. School Libraries and Information Literacy. Retrieved from: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/index.htm

New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (2012). Library Policy-Schools. Retrieved from: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/curriculum/schools/libraries/PD20050221.shtml?query=Library+policy+

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right?: A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.

School Library Association of South Australia (2008). SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html

Smith, L. (2013, 29th April) Online learning journal: The role of the Teacher Librarian and Principal Support. Retrieved from: http://lindalibrariansmith.wordpress.com/2013/04/

Smith, L. (2013, 13th May) Online learning journal: Information Literacy is more than a set of skills. Retrieved from: http://lindalibrariansmith.wordpress.com/2013/04/

Todd,R. Henri, J & Rowan,L (1996) Opinions on the future of Teacher Librarians and school library services. Retrieved from http://www.warriorlibrarian.com in discussion paper titled The Role of the TL by Credaro,A.

 

 

 

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“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ― Plutarch
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