My view of the role of the teacher librarian has not necessarily changed, but has most certainly gained depth. In my previous blog entry about the role of the teacher librarian, I did not really explain or have a very good understanding of the expectations of such a position. Being new to this role, I have found the module readings and discussions for this subject to be interesting, valuable and practical to my position as a TL. In short, my role consists first and foremost of being a teacher. I noticed in the readings that Herring (2007), Lamb (2011) and Purcell (2010) also recognise teaching as one of the most important aspects of the role of the TL. I have learned that the role of the TL is largely based on the context and needs of the students. The other aspects of my role consist of being an information manager, information specialist, technology innovator and leader, collaborator, financial planner (controlling budgets, expenditure etc) and literacy advocator. Valenza (2011), also recognised a number of other key TL responsibilities that I feel are applicable to my personal role as a TL. Valenza (2011) outlined that TLs teach and model inquiry research, digital citizenship, evaluation of resources in terms of their relevance and credibility, literary and media appreciation. All of the elements listed are crucial to the success of the role of the TL. With the role of the TL being diverse from school to school and quite complex, this can sometimes be a challenge for less experienced TLs like myself. Prioritising tasks according to Bonannos (2011) is key to the optimum running of the role of the TL.
Encouraging and promoting a love of reading amongst students is definitely a passion of mine and something that I feel even stronger about now after reading through some of the modules. Reading expert Stephen Krashen (2004, as cited by Hughes, 2013, p.19) indicates that wide reading and “access to reading materials through libraries are critical for literacy development, especially among students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.” The context of the school that I teach at has a low socio-economic background and I feel that promoting reading is even more of an important part of my role as a TL.
Throughout the modules and assignments, another aspect of the role in which I gained a deeper understanding of, was information literacy and guided enquiry. I had the opportunity to research a number of IL models, such as the Big 6 and Super 3, the NSW Information Skill Process and Kuhlthau’s (2010) Information Search Process. Since ‘hypothetically’ investigating which model would best suit the context of the school that I work at, I have initiated discussions with some of my executive colleagues to see if they have a preference for a particular IL model and how we could go about using a staff meeting to discuss our roles as educators in the IL integration process. Like Simpson and Walsh (2012) and O’Connell (2012), I think collaboration between educators will only benefit students understanding of information literacy. This collaboration could lead to our school developing an IL policy, something which we do not have yet.
Ultimately the role of the TL is a multi-faceted one (Herring, 2007, p. 30) and with this, the role of the teacher librarian will continue to change with the changing information landscape. Breivik and Gee (1989: 22, as cited by Langford, 1998) have stated “that literacy is in an evolving state that mirrors the expanding information needs of society.” With this change comes the evolving role of my role as a TL. In my new role as a TL, I have often felt overwhelmed with challenges, mainly feeling time poor. I know that I am new to the role but after completing this subject I can see that TLs really do have quite complex roles. According to Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Dana Hanson-Baldauf (2008), some other challenges which I am now more aware of which affect the changing role of the TL is that although “media specialists recognize the importance of technology competence… many face barriers due to lack of resources, time, technical support, infrastructure, and professional development” (as cited by Lamb, 2011, p. 33). Professional development is one area that I hope to target in order to improve my skills as a TL coping in the ever changing information landscape.
Bonanno, K. (2011). Speech at ASLA, 2011 conference: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan.
Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. School Library Media Research, 9.
Hughes, H. (2013). Findings about Gold Coast Principal’s views of school libraries and teacher librarians. Chapter 8, School libraries, teacher librarians and their contribution to student literacy development in Gold Coast schools. Research report.
Kuhlthau, C. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18.
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
Langford, L (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. Retrieved from http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html
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.
O’Connell, J. (2012). Change has arrived at an iSchool library near you. Information literacy beyond Library 2.0.
Simpson, A. & Walsh, M. (2012). The impact of technology on reading practices for 21C learners. Scan; v.31 n.1 p.34-39; February 2012. Retrieved from: http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=191036;res=AEIPT
Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto