How is the role of the TL perceived by the different members and groups of the school community?

I believe teacher librarians (TL) are uniquely qualified information specialists and educators with a common aim: to underpin teaching and learning in our schools (“What is a teacher librarian”, 2018). How we reach this aim varies greatly according to the roles we have in our individual school communities (“School Community,” 2014).

School library. Photo by author.

School administrators, who are knowledgeable and supportive of the school library (the Library), view TLs are valuable faculty members (American Association of School Librarians, 2016):

  • instructional leaders, who support development of all aspects of learning and literacy development;
  • information specialists, who support teachers through collaborative teaching, resource gathering and professional development and
  • promoters of literacy, who foster the reading habits and information skill development of students (Lupton, 2016, p. 56).

This is unfortunately not the view of all administrators and many TLs find themselves marginalised in terms of staffing, funding and space allocation. Lupton’s (2016) research showed that the principal’s perception of the role of the TL is pivotal in the influence and participation a TL has in a school community (pp. 52-53).

The attitude of teachers towards TLs is the most important factor that allows librarians to become part of the learning process. TLs rely on teachers to invite them to support and collaborate in classroom activities. It is unfortunate that some teachers see TLs as adding to the complexity of their work (Markless et al., 2016, pp. 25-26). TLs have to create opportunities – from structured planning meetings to casual staff room conversations – to  build trusting relationships with teachers, aiming to convince them that the Library and its resources present opportunitiees to extend classroom learning (Formanack & Pietsch, 2011, p. 9).

Parents’ perception of the Library often originates in the opinions of their children, or in their own recollection of their school library experience. Parents are more likely to have a personal interest in the school library if they have younger children (and visit the library with them). A more general awareness of the Library can be generated by general school wide communication (email, news bulletins, podcasts and the school website). I find it unfortunate if a parent’s only contact with the library is through overdue notices, or the challenging of book choices! Parents’ view of the role of the TL and the library can be positively influenced by encounters such as book fairs, author visits, and open-day events, as well as a positive working relationship with the school’s parent organisation.

It is the perception that students have of the TL and the Library that lies the closest to this TL’s heart. Not all students will be readers, and not all will be regular visitors to the library, but being able to provide a “third place”or community hub, and making the Library and its services an accesible and supportive place, is what I aim for (Coppola, 2010, p. 14; Devenish, 2017, p. 4). Studies such as “School libraries work!”and “The beating heart of the school” suggest that the Library can play an important part in teaching and learning, but I believe that it is up to each individual TL to craft their role, and the perception thereof, in their school community (School libraries, 2016; Libraries All Party, 2014).


References

American Association of School Librarians. (2016, June 25). Definition of an effective school library program. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/positionstatements/AASL_Position%20Statement_Effective_SLP_2016-06-25.pdf

Coppola, G. (2010, Fall). Library as the third place. Florida Libraries, 14-15. Retrieved from https://libraryallegra.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/library-as-the-third-place.pdf

Devenish, A. (2017). Turning the school library into a thriving community hub. Connections, (103), 4-5. Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/media/1656/connections103.pdf

Formanack, G., & Pietsch, L. (2011). Fixed schedules can support 21st- century skills. School Library Monthly, 27(6), 8-10. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=iih&AN=58657146&site=ehost-live

Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group. (2014). The beating heart of the school. Retrieved from http://www2.eastriding.gov.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=620060

Lupton, M. (2016). Adding value: Principals’ perceptions of the role of the teacher-librarian. School Libraries Worldwide, 22(1). Retrieved from https://iasl-online.org/resources/Documents/05luptonfinalformatted49-61.pdf

Markless, S., Bentley, E., Pavey, S., Shaper, S., Todd, S., & Webb, C. (2016). The innovative school librarian (2nd ed.). London: Facet.

School community. (2014, October 21). Retrieved February 14, 2018, from The Glossary of Education Reform website: https://www.edglossary.org/school-community/

What is a teacher librarian? (2018, January 29). Retrieved February 14, 2018, from Australian School Library Association website: http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/what-is-a-teacher-librarian.aspx

 

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8 thoughts on “How is the role of the TL perceived by the different members and groups of the school community?

  1. Hi Gretha,

    Looking through various blogs on Thinkspace I stumbled upon yours. The user-friendly design caught my eye and I decided that I would provide a peer review for you. The first thing that caught my eye was the colour scheme across the top of your blog along with a photo of you. This photo immediately made me feel welcome. I have also enjoyed reading your tweets down the side. I found the blog easy to navigate and comment on. I had struggled to find a blog that was easy to use and comment on. It was a refreshing change and helped ease my mind as this is the first time I have worked with blogs.

    Reading you blog on the role of the teacher librarian I have to agree that in my experiences I have mainly seen the teacher librarian undervalued by the school administration. I am hoping that this is slowly changing. I do believe that if we can change the way the administration views the role of the teacher librarian we will see a major shift in the way teacher librarians interact with other members of the community. I also strongly agree that the perception of parents definitely stems from their experience as a child themselves. I think this influences our students views much more than many people realise. If we can involve the parents in the library more their views may shift and they will be more open to the exploring the ever-changing role of Teacher Librarians and school libraries.
    I look forward to continuing to work alongside you throughout our course. I will continue to check back on your blog and follow you progress through the course.

    Kind Regards,
    Rebecca

    • Dear Rebecca, thank you for reply. I really appreciate your feedback. I am glad that you like the layout – I obsessed about it for a whole weekend a year ago when I first set it up, now it does not seem all that important anymore. I have to admit that I struggled with blogging at first, viewing each blogpost as a miniature academic essay. I now view it as “learning out loud”, my blog voice is much more informal and less tentative, but no less genuine. I hope that you find your thinkspace blog a place to develop and share your thinking as well. I’ll pop in to see. Good luck!

  2. After reading a few different blogs, I chose to review yours because your writing felt ‘comfortable’ to me. Reading for understanding is quite expectedly key when reviewing a peer’s work. I found that your writing was succinct and yet substantial enough to convey your answer to the question clearly.
    As a suggestion, you may choose to transfer your writing to Word or another writing/document program to assist in the proof editing of your writing. You’ve given me some homework too, I’d never considered using my references as links until I read your blog post. I find it interesting and wonder if these links need quotation marks as 3 of your 4 links in paragraph 6 have them. Times have certainly changed in the 10 years since I last studied.
    In paragraph 5, you have written about the parent’s involvement in their children’s development and relationship with their school library. This relationship is so important, and it is interesting to watch how different children interact with the library and its resources, based on their parent’s interaction with the school expectations for e.g. Homework reading. But as educators we need to consider busy lifestyles of parents and more parents choosing or needing to work rather than stay at home with their kids which impacts on their ability to attend suggested activities.
    You have looked at TL and their role from multiple perspectives, providing insight and different takes on the role of the TL, while linking it back to the important dynamic of the role. Your firsthand experiences came to light in your writing too. You have given excellent rationales for why there is difficulty in clearly defining the role of the TL in the school community, and how that can impact on the TLs ability to largely influence students and teachers.
    Thank you for sharing your perspective, and the help you shared for this assignment. It truly is appreciated.

    • Thank you Janice, for reading my blogpost and for your very thoughtful comments. Your suggestion about proof editing is very valid! English is not my first language and, although I work in an English speaking environment, I need to be mindful of the quality of my writing. Blogging is not particularly easy for me, the writing part is getting easier, so I am particularly glad that you find it “comfortable” to read. I am starting to value this form of writing as an important part of my learning.

      I really like hyperlinks! I think gives more, “dimension” and depth to a piece of writing and extends its scope. To me a hyperlink has a purpose similar to that of an in-text citation, expect that it does not only refer to the source, but takes me directly there! I do not think a hyperlink should necessarily be in quotes – I think I was inconsistent in the blogpost. Thank you again for taking the time to leave me a comment.

      • Hearing you were in Switzerland and then hearing you speak in your video on Creative Commons got me a bit confused, but only for a minute :-). I recognised your accent as South Africa is my birth country too! This was another reason I took a look at your blog and your ‘About Me’ page.
        I look forward to continuing to work alongside you during this course.
        Take care,
        Janice

        • VERY South African accent, I know, I cannot hide it. Except when I speak German, then they think I’m Dutch! Looking forward to some collaboration too…

  3. Hello Grethe,

    Well done on the best presented and used blog I’ve yet seen (and you know your place in the alphabet!). You are using it as it’s intended, as a learning journal, and it’s already well used. Your peer review on Ann’s blog was thoughtful, referring both to the content and the look of her blog. You demonstrated a clear-eyed view of the role of the TL there, and in your own post. You’ve a very clear view of your role in your library in your international school, and you are attracted to the inquiry learning/embedding of digital skills needed for 21C learning (future proofing?)

    You’ve written about parents’ and community’s perceptions of the role, while dealing with the negative stereotypes in a compelling way. There’s no time for those sorts of thoughts, when we are needed to help teachers provide future proofing for students dealing with whatever the information landscape throws at them.

    You’ve demonstrated perceptive use of sources, and are more than ready for the more demanding task ahead of the literature review. Your thoughts on underpinning teaching and learning in the school could be a direction for your literature review.

    Well done on a very engaged start to ETL401.

    Lee
    ETL401 SC

    • Thank you Lee.

      Blogging does not come easily to me, but I am working on getting better. I believe that this is an important development for me as a reflective learner. Your comments are an inspiration to continue to develop my practice.

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