I have always been interested in working in a school library. Following the completion of my Bachelors degree I undertook a Grad. Dip. of Library and Information Management, as I thought it would be interesting and give me something to do while waiting for work opportunities to come up. It was. It gave me experiences in a librarian’s role and the administrative side of things. Prior to this, my experience of teacher-librarians was limited to my schooling and my practicums.
My first picture of what a teacher-librarian’s role included was in primary school. I thought it was about buying books, helping students to find books that interested them, and hosting authors/illustrators, and Book Week. It always seemed like an interesting job and being able to be around books all day was a great idea to me.
During my practicums my view of the teacher-librarian role expanded. I went to library lessons and observed how the teacher-librarian worked with classes and helped teachers locate resources. They created book boxes for areas of research, assisted students in borrowing for interests, and helped hook students into research topics.
As my experiences with school libraries changed, my understandings of the role of teacher librarians has developed. During my first contract in a teacher-librarian role I came across the School Library Association of South Australia’s (SLASA) Teacher Librarian Role Statement (2015). This really opened my eyes as to how much a teacher-librarian does!
Now, after 3 ½ years in teacher-librarian positions my understanding of the role is of an information professional that is involved in all areas of the school – providing access points for information literacy skills and literature promotion. Information literacy skills are integral to developing students who can locate and critically evaluate information in the 21st century.
Teacher-librarians are information skills advocates.
This includes defining questions, locating resources, searching online effectively and taking notes, summarising information, referencing correctly, and developing critical thinking skills. They find opportunities for inquiry learning.
Teacher-librarians are resource advocates.
They curate and provide access to a variety of up to date and relevant sources for teaching and learning. They need to integrate their way into subject areas and tailor their presentations/resources for specific needs. The teacher-librarian is a resource that is there to be used. They are experts in their field.
Teacher-librarians are literacy advocates.
They help students locate resources suited to their ability and their interests. They introduce students to books they may not have seen previously. They provide access to resources for all users. They promote interest and challenge in reading.
Teacher-librarians are collaboration advocates.
They work together with class and subject teachers to create meaningful opportunities for inquiry learning and development of information skills.
I have enjoyed being a teacher-librarian in the positions I have been employed in. I believe these roles/jobs of the teacher-librarian are intertwined and often overlap. There is a big change from what I thought teacher-librarians did to what I now realise is part of the role. This has not changed my interest in the role. I see the role as very important in developing information literate students for the future.