Portfolio – The Role of a Teacher Librarian

I have become increasingly aware, as I progressed through this course, of how much the role of Teacher Librarian is continually growing and evolving. This is, largely, in response to the constant evolution of the information landscape (Lonsdale 2003; Mathison 2016; Schwarz 2016). I too, have been continually growing and evolving in terms of knowledge and skills as I have progressed through this course. The more I have learned, the more I am convinced that we, as Teacher Librarians, are well-placed to be instructional leaders of 21st centuries pedagogies (Alliance for Excellent Education 2016; ASLA 2014; Stansbury 2016). In my ETL401 Final Reflection about the role of the teacher librarian (TL), I made reference to roles such as collection development, teaching referencing and how to research using Inquiry Based Learning models (Costello 2015a). Since then, I have come to appreciate the wide and varied roles of a TL.  One only needs to examine Valenza’s manifesto and MacMeekin’s infographic to begin to fathom the depth and breadth of our roles (MacMeekin 2013; Valenza 2010). My lament as a TL is ‘so much to do, so little time’.

Teacher librarians are specialist teachers, accordingly, our title emphasises our teaching role. Collaborative teaching is a role highlighted in Teacher Librarian standards (ASLA 2004; NSW DoE 2016). The TL’s instructional role in collaborative teaching was addressed in my aforementioned blog (Costello 2015a). At that stage, I conceded that I had never even seen, let alone, embarked upon collaborative teaching. As I have progressed through this course I have been empowered with the knowledge, skills and confidence to overcome to my initial angst to accomplish this role in various forms (Gordon 2010; Todd 2008). Self-belief and confidence in my own abilities is, without a doubt, the area of greatest professional and personal growth as a result of this course. Confidence in my expertise as an information specialist has allowed me to showcase my knowledge and skills and promote myself as an instructional leader in the school (Brown 2004; Collay 2011; Costello 2015b). I showcase and promote my skills by collaborative teaching, regular emails highlighting ways I can assist their classes, school newsletter articles, posters in the library and around the school, Sentral announcements and personal conversations (Costello 2016b). This has helped smooth the way to approach previously resistant colleagues to consider collaborative teaching practices (Hartzel 2002; Hynes, Danahy, Schneider & Dowling 2012).

Excerpt from school newsletter article (Costello 2016b)

I have collaborated with teachers by examining programs to source or purchase supporting resources. I have also collaborated when team teach English wide reading classes. I have, likewise, collaborated as an instructional partner in planning and team teaching Inquiry Based Learning units (Purcell 2010). I have also been involved in collaboratively teaching a ‘Schools of the Future’ cross-curricular IBL unit which was both challenging and rewarding (Costello 2016a). These are just a small example of some of my collaborative teaching undertakings.

Collection development is another TL role in which I have grown in knowledge, skills and understanding during the course of my studies.  It is clear from my ETL401 Final Reflection blog that I had limited understanding of the full scope of this role (Costello 2015a). The selection of curriculum related and recreational resources is a traditional TL role and , traditionally, the resources were often in the physical print form. I have come to understand that a future focused school librarian needs to also provide access to electronic resources such as eBooks, audiobooks, online encyclopaedias and websites in addition to print resources (Oddone 2016 ; Latham & Poe 2008). I also understand that I need to ‘provide access to information resources through efficient, effective and professionally-managed systems’, as outlined in the Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (ASLA 2004). To do this I ensure that the school library collection is managed so that my users can easily locate and access resources.

One of the ways that I have achieved this is by embarking upon the reorganisation of our fiction books into genres. Genrification of the collection has been shown to increase loan statistics as they help users locate reading material more easily. This is because it acts as a short cut in the selection process (Johnson 2009 ; Rippel 2012). This process has been a huge undertaking but now nears completion. As a reflective practitioner, I plan to evaluate loan statistics as part of evidence-based practice to determine the degree of success for this strategy at our school (ASLA 2004; Hay & Foley 2009).

Snapshot of books from my library from the Fantasy Genre collection

Additionally, as a result of undertaking this course my understanding of the importance of providing access points in the library catalogue have been significantly enhanced (Coombes 2012; Hider 2012). This is another important way that I can meet the TL standards by providing ‘effective and professionally-managed systems’ (ASLA 2004). When describing collection development as one of the roles of the TL in a 2014 blog I had not, at that stage in my learning journey, even considered this important part of collection development (Costello 2014). Since completing ETL505, however, I can now confidently expand access points to library resources by tailoring additional SCIS subject terms and ScOT authority files in Oliver LMS (Coombes & Valli 2007). I now understand how to align the access points to curriculum topics and assessments (Hider 2012).  I, likewise, curate library resources into reading lists in Oliver aligned to curriculum topics. This helps teachers to direct students to professionally-selected reliable information sources on their topic (ASLA 2004).

Reading Lists as shown on school OPAC main interface.

In my collection development role, I have also carefully curated credible websites and catalogued them with applicable subject headings and authority files. School users have ubiquitous access to the school’s Oliver OPAC. These curated electronic sources can assist students to locate credible information sources faster than a Google search (Hutchinson 2017 ; Oddone 2016). I have also increased my understanding of strategies to enhance the school library eResource collection such as by uploading SCIS’s Special Order Files. These files provide quick access to batches of records for digital resources such as recently SCIS-catalogued websites, e-resources and websites reviewed in SCAN magazine and Scootle resources (Styles & Richardson 2016). As part of my collection development role, I also provide school users anywhere, anytime access to eBooks and audiobooks via Overdrive subscription.

Carousel of eBooks as shown on school OPAC main interface.

I have, likewise, complemented and augmented our school library’s resources with a Virtual Library. The Virtual Library website is a curation of educational resources that can be accessed by students, teachers, parents and the community. Additionally, the Virtual Library has been a powerful tool to showcase my professional skills and build my profile within the school community. The Virtual Library also serves the corollary function of providing evidence of my growth as a teacher librarian. It demonstrates all that I have learned while completing this course (Costello 2017).

Other important roles of the TL are in the instruction of Information Literacy and the utilisation of ICT as a learning tool . These roles will be covered in detail in the following posts.


Alliance for Excellent Education. (2016). Future ready librarians. Future Ready Schools. Available at: http://1gu04j2l2i9n1b0wor2zmgua.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Library_flyer_download.pdf.

ASLA. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

ASLA. (201). Future learning and school libraries, Australian School Library Association , Canberra, ACT. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/2013-ASLA-futures-paper.pdf

Brown, C. (2004). America’s most wanted: Teachers who collaborate. Teacher Librarian, (1), 13-18.

Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. Everyday teacher leadership: Taking action where you are. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Combes, B. (2012). Practical opportunities and the library catalogue. Connections, 82.

Combes, B. & Valli, R. (2007). Fiction and the 21st century: A new paradigm. Cyberspace, D-world, E-learning: Giving libraries and schools the cutting edge, the 2007 IASL Conference and Research Forum, Taiwan.

Costello, C. (2014). The role of the teacher librarian in schools. Reflections of a Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/clctl/2014/12/08/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-in-schools/

Costello, C. (2015a). ETL401 Final Reflection. Reflections of a Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/clctl/2015/02/02/critical-reflection/

Costello, C. (2015b). ETL504 Reflective Critical Analysis. Reflections of a Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/clctl/2015/06/10/etl504-reflective-critical-analysis/

Costello, C. (2016a). EBP. Virtual Library. Retrieved from http://www.virtuallibrary.info/ebp/.html

Costello, C. (2016b). How can graphic novels be used in the curriculum?, Campbelltown Performing Arts High School Newsletter, 2 September 2016. Retrieved from http://cpahs.schoolzineplus.com/newsletter/15495

Costello, C. (2017). Virtual Library Home, Virtual Library. Retrieved from http://www.virtuallibrary.info/.html

Gordon, C. A. (2010). The culture of inquiry in school libraries, School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1) , 73–88.

Hartzel, G. (2002). What’s it take? Presented at the Washington White House Conference on School Libraries. Retrieved from: http://www.laurabushfoundation.com/Hartzell.pdf

Hay, L. & Foley, C. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21C. Scan, 28(2), 17-26.

Hynes, M., Danahy, E, Schneider, L., & Dowling, D., (2012). The InterLACE Project: Examining the barriers to implementing collaborative, design-based inquiry investigations, ASEE National Conference, San Antonio, Texas, June 11. 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.ceeo.tufts.edu/documents/conferences/2012mheddd.pdf

Hider, P.  (2012). Information resource description: creating and managing metadata. London: Facet.

Hutchinson, E. (2017). The Role Of The School Librarian In Teaching And Learning. edCircuit. Available at: http://www.edcircuit.com/the-role-of-the-school-librarian-in-teaching-and-learning/

Johnson, P. (2009).  Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. American Library Association.

Latham, B. & Poe, J. (2008). Evaluation and selection of new format materials: electronic resources in J. R. Kennedy, L. Vardaman & G. B. McCabe (Eds.), Our new public, a changing clientele : bewildering issues or new challenges for managing libraries, 257-265.

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement: A Review of the Research. ACER. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/research.pdf

MacMeekin, M. (2013). 27 Things Your Teacher Librarian Does. An Ethical Island. Retrieved from https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/27-things-your-teacher-librarian-does/

Mathison, A. (2016). Why we desperately need school librarians in a digital world. The Morning Call.  Retrieved from http://www.mcall.com/opinion/yourview/mc-school-library-important-mathison-yv-1107-20161106-story.html

NSW Department of Education. (2016). Library Policy – Schools. Retrieved from: https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/library-policy-schools

O’Connell, J. (2012). Change has arrived at an iSchool library near you, in P.Godwin & J. Parker (Ed.) Information literacy beyond Library 2.0. London:Facet Publishing, UK.

Oddone, K. (2016). The importance of school libraries in the Google Age. SCIS. Connections. 98(2016). Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_98/feature_article/importance_of_school_libraries_in_google_age.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.

Rippel, C. (2012). What Libraries Can Learn from Bookstores. Webjunction.org. Retrieved from https://www.webjunction.org/documents/webjunction/What_Libraries_Can_Learn_from_Bookstores.html?redirect=true

Schwarz, D. (2016). 30 ways librarianship has changed in 30 years. LAC Group. Retrieved from https://lac-group.com/30-ways-libraries-librarians-changed-last-30-years/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+lacgroupblog+(LAC+Group+Blog)

Stansbury, M. (2016). Are librarians the key to a Future Ready school?. eSchool News. Retrieved from http://www.eschoolnews.com/2016/12/16/librarians-key-future-ready-school/?ps=parulsinghmannu%40gmail.com-001a000001eFfPf-003a000002FwJ0B

Styles, J. & Richardson, N. (2016). What’s so special about Special Order Files? Connections, 97(2016). Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_97/articles/whats_so_special_about_special_order_files.html

Todd, R. J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations.Scan, 27(2), 19-28.

Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/


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