What is the role of the teacher librarian?
Up until this year, I really did not know very much about the role of the teacher librarian. After teaching on class for the past 6 years, and my students visiting our school library I knew that they would be read to and borrow books and sometimes they would watch movies. I really, personally did not find the role of the librarian very exciting and from my students perspective I felt that visiting the library once a week was more of a chance for my class to have a break from regular class learning.
However, a year ago, I went to an EDUTECH conference where l listened to inspirational speakers such as Hamish Curry, George Curos, Jan Holmquist and Tony Lunnis who spoke about the role of the librarian and how we can keep libraries relevant in the present and the future. I left the conference feeling inspired and enthusiastic about putting my hand up for the upcoming role of the teacher librarian within my school and changing the role of our school’s teacher librarian in our newly renovated space.
After delving into the role of the teacher librarian, I feel that the Australian Library and Information Association, (2004) outlines perfectly how I see my new role. “Teacher librarians support and implement the vision of their school communities through advocating and building effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners” (ASLA, 2004). Since I started in this role, I have had a number of professional collegial discussions in regards to how I can best support the students, teachers and families who visit our school library. In particular, what programs and learning opportunities I should be consistently providing in our library.
According to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL, 2007, p.2), “Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs. Today’s students need to develop information skills that will enable them to use technology as an important tool for learning, both now and in the future.” This statement resonated with me because not only is it practically outlined in our school plan, but within my school community, my colleagues often look to me for support in the area of information technology (IT). They understand and see the importance of supporting students in this area in order to widen and support their future opportunities. They rely on me to provide their class with IT opportunities that they may not otherwise be able to provide.
Through the readings for ETL 401, my understandings of the role of the TL have certainly been broadened. After viewing the “What do teacher librarians teach?” (Valenza, 2011) poster which explicitly outlines what TL teach and the importance of “ensuring that learners are effective users and producers of ideas and information.” The poster really encapsulates the complexity of the role of the TL and the importance of this position within the context of each school. According to Lamb (2011, p 27) “… the basic skills required of a media specialist have evolved over the past several decades. … today’s media specialist is facing a growing number of new challenges and increasing pressures to shift from traditional materials and services to a much broader range of resources and responsibilities.”
In conclusion, the role of the teacher librarian will continue to advance in order to keep up with societal change. Lamb (2011. p32) recommends that “Rather than waiting for the next technology wave, professionals must actively anticipate change and seek out opportunities to learn” in order to support the learning opportunities of students.
American Association of School Librarians (AASL), Standards for the 21st Century Learner . (2007). Available from: http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards/learningASLA and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (2004).
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.) Available from: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=738285e8-7ebd-4fb5-9caf-d752487f67bc%40sessionmgr105&vid=1&hid=115
Valenza, J. (2011). What do Librarians Teach? Available from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/78154370@N00/5761280491/sizes/l/in/photostream/