Libraries have always been a safe haven for me; first, as a primary, secondary and tertiary student and then, as a teacher. Traditionally, they were a place to discover stories to satiate my longing for escapism, a place to find shelter from the unforgiving elements and a place to gather endless resources to assist with my learning.
When I first transitioned from university life into the workplace, it seemed natural for me to amble into the library not only to find my own personal reading material and to gather my thoughts away from the hustle and bustle of a busy school environment but because I knew that they were homes to a plethora of resources that could improve both my teaching and the learning of my students. After flirting with the idea of a career change earlier in life than initially anticipated, as a way of amalgamating my various passions, I have been closely inspecting and broadening my understanding of the many roles of teacher-librarians in their natural habitats; dynamic, collaborative and innovative learning hubs.
According to AILA and ASLA, teacher librarians “support and implement the vision of their school communities through advocating and building effective library and information services and programs.” The key roles of teacher librarians in schools are diverse and include teaching and learning, management, leadership and collaboration and community engagement.
-Teaching and Learning:
Teacher librarians promote literature and encourage reading across all school levels, compelled by the many known benefits associated with reading. They work in collaboration with their colleagues to improve literacy levels as well as improving the skills and knowledge around digital and information literacy. They assist with the development of inquiry-based learning and the use of information and communication technology to further student and teacher learning. Additionally, they assist teachers and schools with integrating and resourcing the curriculum.
They provide access to information and ideas. They maintain library facilities, providing resources, programs and services in both the physical and digital spheres. Moreover, they are responsible for a school’s physical and digital learning space and the promulgation of ideas fundamental to teaching and learning: reading, inquiry, research, thinking, curiosity, imagination and creativity.
-Leadership and Collaboration:
They work collaboratively with various members of their diverse and inclusive school community to provide services and programs to assist with the professional development of staff. They keep up-to date with emerging trends to prepare students, across all curriculum areas and learning stages, with skills and capabilities needed to flourish in a rapidly changing and interconnected world.
They promote student wellbeing by being inclusive of diversity, welcoming minority groups and other fringe members of society and fostering a sense of identity and belonging. They do this by connecting students with their interests, with one other and with their community through a variety of means, including programs. They open dialogues and engage with parents and families in the education of their children, promoting the importance of the intergenerational learning. Furthermore, they connect with and work together with other libraries in the wider community.
Twenty-first century libraries are inclusive and dynamic learning spaces that are constantly adapting to reflect the changing nature of education, technology and communication. Ultimately, the role of teacher librarians is to ensure that students are critical thinkers who are fully literate and able to navigate and succeed in the globalised and contemporary world.
Australian Library and Information Association. (2019). ALIA-ASLA statement on teacher librarians in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/alia-asla-statement-teacher-librarians-australia