There is no doubt that frequent, regular access to a diverse, quality fiction collection, in a range of formats in a school library is a mandatory need and right of every single student. An exceptional teacher librarian (TL) allows schools to empower students, support literacy and lifelong learning, bring the school community together, foster relationships between each and every student and bring value to our country and cultural heritage and understanding. This is achieved when the TL manages its resources and acquisition of all resources, through collaboration, leadership and engagement with the school community.
Pathways that allow TLs to achieve the Declaration for the Right to School Libraries are varied and careful consideration needs to be taken to ensure that TLs are fulfilling their roles as advocates for championing reading, literacy and literary learning. Each TL needs to take into consideration their learning community, and tailor pathways that best meet the needs of its students, teachers and greater school community. TLs will need to embrace the core business of information seeking, literacy and reading, as well as supporting the entire school community.
Essentially, a great communicator who listens and responds to the needs of the teaching and learning community, as well as a TL that constantly advocates for their role in assisting the teaching and learning cycle, makes them invaluable in their school.
Participation and involvement in curriculum committees gives TLs great insight into the curriculum content and delivery and gives them a platform to advocate for reading programs and literary learning. I believe a great starting point is to work with one faculty within the school and establish a good working relationship that allows the TL to promote how the library resources can assist in literary learning across their subject area. If we can demonstrate success in one subject area, supplementing and enhancing learning and engagement, it stands us in good stead to self-promote and show real examples of how the TL can assist teachers in ways they may not have previously considered.
Access to a rich and diverse fiction collection is paramount to providing students with their rights to a school library. Diverse formats, genres, access points, a range of varied reading levels that include a diverse representation of culture, authors and subjects are essential to any library. By enabling patron-driven acquisition, equipping students with essential ICT skills to function effectively as 21st century citizens and offering a space that is conducive to learning, exploring and accessing information freely, makes the library the hub of any school and gives students the rights they have been granted in the Declaration.
I think my greatest challenge, after completing this subject, is convincing teachers that literary learning, through the addition of fiction to their curriculum programs, really is a worthwhile and valuable practice. I have already shared my Literary Resource Kit with a colleague who teaches history, and she is definitely ‘intrigued’. But the question remains: how will we implement this within an already crowded curriculum? That will be my challenge for 2021, and by working closely with some of my (open-minded) colleagues this year, I’m hoping that I get a chance of showing our teachers how valuable literary learning can be, and how I can support them through this process.