Whilst I am currently not in a Teacher Librarian role at present, this is a role I hope to one day fulfil. After reading and reflecting on the documents this week, and consulting with the current Teacher Librarian within my school, I became enlightened and very overwhelmed.
The ASLA Standards (Australian School Library Association) have listed the standards of professional excellence for Teacher Librarians within a broad framework of professional practice, professional knowledge and professional commitment. It is after reading the standards that fall under this umbrella, that you truly begin to appreciate and understand the complex and demanding role of a Teacher Librarian. The ASLA Standards describe the role as having two key components, a teacher and an information specialist. Librarians must evoke life-long learning, collaboratively work with colleagues, resource the curriculum, understand and collaborate with the school community, continually develop their knowledge of teaching and learning across the curriculum as well as their knowledge of information resources, technology and library management. If that is not enough; Teacher Librarians are also responsible for planning and budgeting the school resources.
The International Standards are very similar to our own National Standards. Teacher Librarians provide opportunities for students to inquire, think critically, draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, pursue personal and aesthetic growth, among many others. These skills are essential for students to learn as they will use them throughout their educational journey, “the school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens” (International Association of School Libraries, March 28, 2006).
The SLASA Standards (School Library Association of South Australia) give an overview of our state standards. These standards divide the role of the Teacher Librarian into six categories; teaching and learning, leadership, curriculum involvement, management, literature promotion and services. These standards are also evident within the National and International standards.
After reviewing these standards it has provoked me to reflect on my own experiences within the school environment. I have found that teachers have a lack of appreciation for Teacher Librarians, and a common misconception among school staff is that Teacher Librarians are ‘just RFF (Relief from Face-to-Face) teachers’. This is obviously a terribly misguided view and the evidence that it is far from the truth is highlighted throughout the readings I have read this past week. “The school library functions as a vital instrument in the educational process, not as a separate entity isolated from the total school program but involved in the teaching and learning process” (International Association of School Libraries, 9 February, 2003). With the alarming concerns that with new budgets arising, the role of the Teacher Librarian will no longer be needed, it is clearly evident in these readings that this role is crucial to the school sector, as they are the glue that holds everything together.
Australian School Library Association – http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
American Association of School Librarians – http://www.ala.org
International Association of School Libraries – http://www.iasl-online.org/about/handbook/policysl.html
School Library Association of South Australia – http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html