After three weeks my view the Teacher Librarian role has been completely transformed. Past experiences combined with a lack of knowledge had restricted my view of the school library as a separate entity, and the Teacher Librarian as an isolated resource manager. I now understand, as stated by the Australian School Library Association, that is a unique role (2004), that is active, visionary, and influenced by the changing information environment.
In considering Industry Standards (American Association of School Libraries, 2007; Australian School Library Association, 2004; School Library Association of South Australian, 2003) the melding of the two disciplines creates a distinctly different role. Without the unique knowledge and skills-set that blend pedagogy and curriculum with information and library expertise (ASLA, 2004), it is clear from my personal experiences that the Teacher Librarian is ill-equipped, and lacks the foundational expertise necessary to impact teaching and learning. When the school leadership recognizes this specialist knowledge, and allows the Teacher Librarian to shape curriculum and policy (Abilock, Harada, & Fontichiaro, 2013), it demonstrates understanding of links between “student achievement” (Lamb, 2011, p. 30) and the infusion of the specialized skills across the school.
The wider profession (American Association of School Libraries, 2007; Australian School Library Association, 2004; School Library Association of South Australian, 2003) clearly define the Teacher Librarian role as active throughout the school community. This contradicts my experiences of the Teacher Librarian as absent from classroom teaching and learning, and demonstrates the necessity for a clearly defined role. This would enable staff to share common goals through what Haycock describes as collaboration for effective purposes (2007). This includes explicit teaching using information literacy models, and the creation and delivery of programs that meet the school community’s needs. As they share knowledge and teach transferrable skills in digital literacy (Herring, 2007) and technology, Teacher Librarians are highlighted as credible resources. As researched by Dr. Ann Gillespie, I can see the ways that an active Teacher Librarian is easily able to gather evidence that acknowledges the worth of their role (2013). While reading promotion is still an active focus, Valenza clearly shows the library space as a vibrant hub (2010) for multiple purposes. This expands my narrow view of school libraries as places that solely provide resources for reading and classroom support.
As leaders and experts in their field I now realize Teacher Librarians are visionaries, who create learning environments that extend beyond the school and strengthen global connections (ASLA, 2013). I think of this as both a challenge and an opportunity. Ongoing reflection with industry colleagues is required to critically examine global and local trends, and use these to inform future practices. In keeping a ‘big picture’ view, it seems essential that students, and cultivation of their curiosity must be at the heart of future directions.
The role of Teacher Librarian is so much bigger than what I had perceived. Right now, my priority is to be clear and definite about the role and what it looks like in my school, so that I can be a part of creating lifelong learners in a changing global world (Australian School Library Association, 2003).
Abilock, D., Harada, V. H., & Fontichiaro, K. (2013). Growing schools: Effective professional development. Teacher Librarian, 41(1), 8-13.
American Association of School Libraries. (2007). Standards for the 21st century learner (pp. 8). America: American Library Association.
Australian School Library Association. (2003). Learning for the future (2nd ed.). Carlton, Victoria: Curriculum Corporation.
Australian School Library Association. (2004). Standards of excellence for teacher librarians.
Australian School Library Association. (2013). Future learning and school libraries Canberra.
Gillespie, A. (2013). Untangling the evidence: Teacher librarians and evidence based practice. (Doctrate), Queensland University of Technology, Queensland. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/61742/2/Ann_Gillespie_Thesis.pdf
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.), Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. p. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies: Charles Sturt University.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36. doi: 10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3
School Library Association of South Australian. (2003). Teacher Librarian Role. from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html
Valenza, J. (2010). Manifesto for 21st century school librarians Retrieved from School Library Journal website: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/