Little Green Librarian

Blogging my way through a Masters in Teacher Librarianship at CSU!

The Role of the Teacher Librarian


girl reading

“I heart children’s literature.”

This phrase might as well be a bumper sticker on my car, not that anyone would need any written confirmation of the fact. My home office and bedroom are full of picture books and chapter books, which I procure on an almost weekly basis, not to mention the tubs of them in my Grandfather’s garage for safe keeping. Whenever I tell people I am studying to become a qualified teacher librarian, I am often met with encouraging nods and affirmations that it is exactly the right profession for me. After all, I do love books!

And I do. I really do. But the quaint librarian in the quiet library, looking adoringly at rows upon rows of books, as lovely as the image sounds, is not even close to the full picture.

The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) (2001) break the teacher librarian’s job description into three categories: curriculum leader, information specialist and information services manager. Others break these roles down further. Purcell (2010) sees teacher librarians as leaders, program administrators, instructional partners, information specialists and teachers. Others, such as Herring (2007), see the teacher librarian role as being so fluid it defies pinning down to a particular set of roles, choosing rather to suggest possible roles for the teacher librarian.

And our world is changing. Fast. The teacher librarian who refuses to engage with technology will be left behind, as will the students in his or her care. One of the most important emerging roles of teacher librarians is to teach children how to effectively, safely and ethically engage with the information they come across on the internet. According to Hardy (2010), “Students have more information at their disposal than ever before, but that doesn’t mean they are any better at evaluating it than their card-catalogue-bound predecessors.” Adults in general and teachers specifically often mistake children’s eagerness and tech-savvy tendencies for “digital literacy”, which is seldom the case. Students still require the coaching of a qualified information professional to help navigate through the murky waters of the internet.

The role of the teacher librarian is far more robust than many teachers realise. Yes, a teacher librarian will still read books with your Year 1 students, but is also able to partner with you to design units of work and assessment tasks that incorporate information literacy skills. He or she is likely to be a syllabus expert and will definitely be able to point you in the right direction to some brilliant resources that will help boost your lessons. Your teacher librarian is also working behind the scenes to manage the library collection as well as the library budget to ensure resources are acquired to meet the needs of all students and teachers across the school.

And in the last few moments of the day, after the students have gone home, your teacher librarian just might be taking in that delicious smell of books and looking adoringly at rows upon rows of books.


Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) (2001).  Learning for the future:  Developing information services in schools (2nd ed.).  Carlton South, Vic:  Curriculum Corporation.

Hardy, L. (2010). The Future of Libraries: What Roles are Your Media Center and Media Specialist Playing in Helping Your Students Navigate the Age of Information. American School Board Journal 197(1), 22-26.

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.27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), pp30-33


Image source: Girl Reading by Open Clips. Public Domain.

2 Comments to

“The Role of the Teacher Librarian”

  1. March 25th, 2014 at 5:36 am      Reply Lee Fitzgerald Says:

    Hi Kelly,

    This is an engaging piece of writing on the role of the TL, as you understand it and as it is changing as you read. You use your course readings well, and have a very sound practical understanding of the TL role in practice.

    Well done.

    ETL401 Subject Team

    • March 26th, 2014 at 9:21 am      Reply LittleGreen Says:

      Thank you for your kind feedback Lee – I was a little worried it was too casual in approach. Good to know I’m on track!

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