Little Green Librarian

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

Through a glass, darkly: A critical reflection on my changing understanding of the role of a teacher librarian


Image of winter trees reflected in a pool of water.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

(Bible Hub, 2012)

I have a confession to make. Before undertaking Introduction to Teacher Librarianship, I held a somewhat romantic view of the role of a teacher librarian (TL). That’s not to say that I thought the role was without complexity, but I certainly had no idea of its extent. I devoured the initial readings of the course, reflecting to myself that I was already undertaking many of the roles discussed in the literature, even without knowing it! I felt confident that I had made the right career choice.

By the time I came to write my first official blog post (Roach, 2014, March 23), the numerous roles of the TL that I was reading about were beginning to compete for space. In this post, I noted the following roles: curriculum leader, information specialist, information services officer, leader, program administrator, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, model of digital citizenship & IL, literature champion, manager, accountant, and curator (ASLA/ALIA, 2001; Hardy, 2010; Herring, 2007; Purcell, 2010). This vast, unruly assortment of ideas reflected the state of my mind – I was approaching a point of feeling utterly overwhelmed! I was finding it difficult to determine what was important (Warlick, 2007, p.21). Anyone familiar with Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.19) will recognise that I was firmly entrenched in the ‘exploration’ phase, feeling confused and frustrated.

A moment of clarity came when I began reading about the ISP and recognised where I was in the process. Understanding this helped me to refine my ideas and go deeper, which led to a more focused second blog post (Roach, 2014, April 22). In this post, I noted the following roles of a TL: evidence gatherer, researcher, teacher, instructional partner, and advocate (Kramer & Diekman, 2010; Kuhlthau, 2007; Todd, 2008). This narrower focus helped me to look more deeply at exactly what this aspect of the role entailed, rather than simply listing every possible aspect that I had read. I was beginning to synthesise what I was reading.

By the time I came to write my third blog post (Roach, 2014, May 12), I was far more confident in my ideas and felt a sense of purpose. Here I noted the following roles of a TL: leader, Guided Inquiry designer, learner, master of intervention, and advocate of life-long learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2013; Maniotes, 2013). In discussing information literacy and Guided Inquiry on the forums, I began to express my opinions with conviction.

The final stages of the ISP are presentation and assessment. These phases are presently playing out as I complete my final assignment and this reflection blog post. I feel a great sense of accomplishment as I near the end of the semester, thus completing a cycle of the ISP process and opening myself up to ask yet more questions, which will begin new ISP cycles in future subjects and throughout my career.

As someone who seeks to be excellent at everything, it can be frustrating to realise that it will take time to be great at every aspect of the TL role. Looking back over the different aspects I have explored in my blog posts, a TL certainly can be all of the things I noted, but it is more prudent to take it one challenge at a time. I now see my career path as my own Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978, p.86). As a teacher, I would not expect a student to understand and accomplish everything at once, so why do I expect it of myself? Rather than exploring all of the aspects of a TL’s role in a shallow way in order to be seen to be doing it all, it is infinitely better to explore each aspect individually, at great depth.

I began this blog post with a biblical quote that serves as an apt metaphor for the growth I have experienced and will continue to experience throughout my life. My understanding of each aspect of the role of a TL begins vaguely, as though I am looking into a darkened mirror. As the picture becomes less murky, the boundaries are better defined. One day, I will see it all perfectly clearly, but that day is not today. However, with each new thing I learn, the image of what I want to be becomes clearer. I am a better TL today than I was yesterday, and tomorrow I will be even better. Knowing this frees me to explore and learn in the same way I want my students to explore and learn. Now, instead of being frustrated because I am not instantly perfect, I am enjoying the journey.



ASLA/ALIA (2001).  Learning for the future:  Developing information services in schools (2nd ed.).  Carlton South, Vic:  Curriculum Corporation.

Bible Hub. (2012). 1 Corinthians 13: King James Bible [web page]. Retrieved from:

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.

Kramer, P. K. & Diekman, L. (2010). Evidence = Assessment = Advocacy. Teacher Librarian, 37(3), pp.27-30.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Libraries Unlimited. Westport, Conn.

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K., & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Guided Inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K. & Caspari, A.K. (2013) Guided Inquiry Design.

Maniotes, L.K. (2013). Guided Inquiry Design Intro pt 2 Learning how to learn. Accessed May 12th, 2014 from

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

Roach, K. (2014, March 23). The role of the teacher librarian [blog post]. Retrieved from:

Roach, K. (2014, April 22). Evidence: Not such a dirty word [blog post]. Retrieved from:

Roach, K. (2014, May 12). Implementing a Guided Inquiry approach [blog post]. Retrieved from:

Todd, R. (2008). The evidence-based manifesto. School Library Journal, 54(4), pp.38-43.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Warlick, D. (2007). Literacy in the new information landscape. Library Media Connection, 26, pp.20-21


Image source: Reflection by Antranius. Retrieved from:

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