In our first blog we were asked to write about our perceptions of the role of the teacher librarian (TL). This I did, based on what I had seen other TLs do in their jobs, you can read about it here.
However, as we delve deeper into the course I am realising the role of the TL involves so much more. According to ASLA (2003) the role of the TL covers three areas – that of information specialist, information services manager and curriculum leader. Each of these areas covers an indepth knowledge and large responsibility for the TL.
Readings on the role of the TL have highlighted that the role of information specialist is becoming increasingly important as the technology continues to become more integrated in our lives. Information specialist on its own covers areas of multiliteracies in information literacy, digital literacy and networked literacy. Information literacy is the ability to find, evaluate and make use of information (Lynda, 2015) but it also incorporates the smaller parts of the whole of being able to formulate questions, search for and navigate around digital spaces, select appropriate information and use be able to use this information as well as an awareness of copyright and plagiarism. Digital literacy is the ability to use digital tools to communicate. It is assumed that many younger students know how to use digital tools because they have been exposed to digital technology all their life. However, this is not always the case, with students admitting to having difficulties using digital tools with information skills (Coombes, 2009, p.36). Networked literacy is the knowledge of networks, how they function and the social courtesies used in them.
As an information services manager the TL is responsible for developing a library collection that reflects student, staff and community information needs derived from sources such as student surveys and curriculum mapping (Herring, 2007). These resources need to be acquired and students given access to the collection (Herring, 2007) through a mix of physical and digital means.
As a curriculum leader the TL is expected to work with the principal and executives to ensure that information literacy has a whole school focus (Herring, 2007, p.31).
Ultimately the role of the TL is defined by the curriculum and the school goals. This will influence the activities the TL undertakes and collection management as an information services manager.
I am sure as my studies progress I will discover more roles and their depths for the TL.
I have had stages in my career as a teacher where I have worked cooperatively and collaboratively with other teachers and collaboratively is definitely better.
Cooperation may be defined as an individual contributing their knowledge in a group to achieve a common goal, whereas collaboration is the sharing of knowledge, ideas and resources to build upon each other’s contributions to solve a problem and individual contributions matter to the outcome of the group (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter, 2011).
During my work as a high school teacher I was fortunate enough to be able to work collaboratively within the faculty to create new units of work. Working collaboratively sparks creativity and gives a sense of ownership to everybody. You end up creating something wonderful that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve on your own.
On the other hand, I have also worked cooperatively, providing just materials, finding books on the subject or asked to incorporate something on a unit they are doing into library lessons. Sometimes I was not asked at all.
The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) outline that as a curriculum leader one of the key roles of the TL is to collaborate with other teachers to integrate ‘information resources and technologies into student learning’ (ASLA, n.d).
However, the level of collaboration is influenced by the school culture (Haycock, 2007, p.27) of which the principal is intregral in supporting collaboration between teachers and the TL (Haycock, 2002 cited in Haycock, 2007, p.31) and it may take years to establish the level of trust required to work collaboratively. This was definitely the case in the last school I worked in where the culture was one that the TL had little to do with collaborating with others and mostly borrowed books or provided resources (which was not often sought). Using Montiel-Overall’s model of teacher librarian collaboration (TLC) (2005, p.35) I tended to work at a model A level of coordination (low levels of teacher and TL involvement with a minimal amount of communication) or model B level of cooperation (teacher and TL cooperate but teach areas of speciality separately) with both teacher’s taxonomy of resource-based teaching and school library media specialist taxonomy ranging from levels 1-5 (Montiel-Overall, 2005, p.33-34). During my time there I tried to foster a sense of collaboration by being cooperative and suggesting resources (print and web based) that could be used in units of work. I also tried to get to know other teachers personally (which was easier with some teachers than others) through lunch conversations and extracurricular activities such as Breakfast Club. It was only towards the end the year, once relationships had started to be established that teachers started actively asking me about resources available in the library for their units of work.
The principal has a big influence on how effectively a school library is run and the role of the TL based their perception of the role of the TL (Lupton, 2016, p.49) and whilst I was supported by the principal in my professional development as a teacher I didn’t feel supported in my role as a TL.
When I was employed for a full-time temporary position for a year as a relieving TL I was briefed to include more technology in library lessons and to modernise the library by the principal. However, I felt conflicted and frustrated by these expectations during the year as they were not able to be met due to lack of funding and support by the principal and the senior administration officer.
To incorporate more technology into lessons I was given 9 desk top computers in a separate room in the library (where there were the most connections) but was told by the deputy principal that students had to be supervised in this room while using computers due to past behaviour problems with computer usage. This made using the computers very impractical as I could not fit the rest of the class in the room. In second term the appointment of a new graduate to the school meant the installation of a computer classroom for them took desktops from the library and left the library with 5 computers. This was still an impractical number to incorporate technology use by the class.
Later in the year I asked the principal for Chromebooks for the library to help teach research skills and incorporate more technology and was told there was money available from surplus budgets but he preferred to spend it on things that made the school look better – like new signage around the school– so the community could see the money was being spent. I would rather like to argue that the community consists of students and parents who would surely appreciate money being spent on Chromebooks so students can keep up with advances in information literacy and digital technologies for research, learning and creation of their own digital artefacts.
Apart from the principal I would suggest that the senior administration officer (SAM) also has a lot of influence on the effectiveness of the TL. Despite the directions by the principal at the start of my employment that he wished the library to be modernised, many times my requests for items were refused or just not ordered. These included signage for different areas of the library – such as junior fiction, fiction and non-fiction and shelf labelling to help students to find sections on the shelves (such as alphabet lettering for junior fiction shelving and numbering for non-fiction). I was even told by the SAM that she knew the library needed work but other areas of the school needed to be fixed up first and quite often when I asked how to order things it would be a very vague answer or a reply of ‘I don’t have time at the moment’.
If I knew then what I knew now I would have applied the ‘WIIFM’ principle to the principal (Kachel, 2017, p.50) – pointing out how Chromebooks could benefit students in information literacy. I would also point out how signage could help students to quickly and easily locate information in the library and allow them to spend more time on their learning. It would have been useful to schedule regular face-to-face meetings with the principal to discuss what they wanted to achieve in the library program (Kachel, 2017, p.51), especially in terms of what type of technology they wanted to be incorporated and how they would like to it implemented (perhaps this would have also helped in the case for the acquisition of Chromebooks).
Interview question results by Lupton (2016) showed that the principal supported the TL by making frequent visits to the library and encouraging other teachers to engage with the TL, being encouraging of TL ideas and allowing time for curriculum development between the TL and stages. I was asked to attend staff meetings with alternate stages each week which was good to get an overall view of the school landscape as I often wasn’t included in the loop of things happening in the school otherwise. However, I was not given the chance to be involved in stage planning days, having to take RFF classes instead. There was also a lack of involvement with the principal, the only time the principal came to the library was during the holidays when I had rearranged the library to open it up for more flexible learning spaces and a few times to tell me how I should have applied a discipline policy according to their school or to show parents the library on school tours. Other than that, it was as if the library didn’t exist. He didn’t even visit book fairs or encourage teachers to visit book fairs or utilise the library. I think the lack of involvement with the TL stemmed from the already established culture of the school with the previous TL and as I was new to the school (on a temporary contract) and didn’t know the systems, culture and students it was difficult to push to be involved in whole -school planning regarding curriculum and fighting for improvements to the library.
Upon reflection, perhaps I could have been more strategic in my time in the library. The majority of my time was spent on library collection management and setting up functions of the library, such as establishing Premier’s Reading Challenge sections and serial sections, weeding and disposing of long out of date material and purchasing more popular fiction books to encourage student reading and engagement with the library. This may not have been the best use of my time as Purcell (2010) suggests library collection management clerical duties should be a small part of the librarian’s role and can be outsourced so the TL can focus on inquiry research. However, funding was easily available for book purchases as I could use Scholastic rewards from bookfair and the SAM was happy to pay invoices for books. Spending my time on curriculum development and advocating for more access to technology with the principal may have been a more beneficial use of my time. I think the strategies outlined by Kachel (2017) would be beneficial in future situations, such as having face to face time with the principal focusing on what they want to happen in library, so the TL always has a strong advocate on their side.
For those of you in a TL position do you regularly engage with their principal about their goals for the school? If not, what stops you from doing so?
When we are asked to practise what we preach we begin to understand the pressures some of our students must face. I certainly felt the effect of too much information and experienced many emotions in completing our assignment two discussion essay.
During the essay I suffered from too much information in the form of information overload which occurs when searchers are unable to efficiently use the information, that is, there is too much information for the user to deal with (Bawden & Robinson, 2009, p.182). I also felt information anxiety, of being lost in the digital world and an urge to just satisfice, to take just the right amount of information to suit my needs, but not necessarily the best information available (Bawden & Robinson, 2009, p.185).
I experienced a mix of feelings of curiosity, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, despair, elation and relief. Curiosity about the assignment, anxiety that I could not find the resources I needed, overwhelm at the level of information, reading and decoding required. Frustration at not being able to remember where I had read information, despair in feeling I had not answered the question or written it well enough, elation of beginning to pull it all together and finally relief in submitting the assignment. Many of these feelings that I experienced are outlined in the Information Search Process (ISP) model. The ISP model depicts the feelings, thoughts and actions of students across seven stages when searching for and using information. As they transition through the stages students may experience feelings of uncertainty, optimism, confusion, clarity, disappointment and satisfaction (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinstrom, 2005).
Helping students with information skills including providing lessons on how to use search options such as databases and library catalogues allow students to effectively search for and retrieve information. Helping students in breaking down the terminology used in the question and possible search criteria is also essential in fine tuning their information skills. I believe TLs also need to help with organisational skills that support information skills including time management, organised note taking and citation knowledge. The use of the ISP model allows TLs to offer assistance and guidance during each of the ISP stages via the ‘zone of intervention’ which occurs when a student cannot achieve the task or can only achieve it with great difficulty. The only time a (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.20). This sentence from Kuhlthau et al. (2012, p.22) was a lightbulb moment about the level of assistance TLs should give during the guided inquiry approach ‘In Guided Inquiry, the only “going it alone” is for each student to think about what is personally important and interesting about the inquiry.’
As I reflect on the processes, I realise this is exactly what Judy and Lori modelled to us in the lead up to our assignment. They were leading us through the process that we will need to lead our own students on and most of us probably experienced feelings our own students will experience. Thank you, ladies, for showing the way without me even realising it until now!
Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0165551508095781
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2012). Guided inquiry design : A framework for inquiry in your school. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Tolisano (2014a) lists four ideas to become a connected educator. They are:
Local isolation – knowing the isolation of teaching and becoming connected to other educators around the world.
Perspective – be willing to offer and accept different perspectives about ideas.
Crowdsource – the power of networking for ideas, content, services, data and approaches to learning/situations.
Model – model network literacy by a. having a basic understanding of network technology by creating your own network, understanding network intelligences and network capabilities.
How essential is each element? – well very, as they all work together to create a globally connected educator. The educator needs to be willing to move from their local area to a global area, be willing to share, be able to accept different perspective, have built connections and know how to use connections for learning and knowledge. I think that the benefits to students in connecting to the real world for their learning are enormous.
I would present the concept of a globally connected educator to my colleagues in a staff meeting as it would be able to reach a vast majority of people at one time (plus the meetings are compulsory and therefore have a captive audience). I would start by explaining the four ideas and show examples of how it is being used, such as in Tolisano’s (2014b) slideshow ‘The Globally Connected Educator’. I would expect the reactions of colleagues to be varied. Some people would be excited, some (particularly those at the beginning end of the connected educator spectrum like me) may be curious but think it’s too overwhelming and some couldn’t be bothered (thinking they already have too much work to do and this would just add to it).
If I had produced any work where the students had participated in global networking, I would show that at the meeting as well to show what is possible at a more ‘local’ level.
Nussbaum-Beach and Hall outline their image of a globally connected educator, who works collaboratively with others to build on shared knowledge (2011, p.20). Whilst I agree with their perspectives on a globally connected educator my personal reality is vastly different. I am still very much in the cooperation stage, where the contributions I make are individual, contributing to a whole. I am only just beginning a collaborative practise with establishing my professional learning network (PLN). At this stage I am a lurker in Jenkin’s participatory culture (cited in Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2011, p. 11). I am investigating and navigating tools to use to enable a collaborative practise as 21st century learners now have to be able to use digital tools to connect over a wider geographical area with an increasingly diversity of people Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2011, p. 4).
According to the scoring of the different literacies required to be a 21st Century citizen (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2011, p. 14) I am not multiliterate with only a basic understanding of many of the categories. In fact, I think I may be almost illiterate! Overall, I didn’t find any of the literacy categories particularly surprising as they all centre around digital knowledge and global interaction. The least challenging literacy category for me is to promote and model digital citizenship as this is an area I have some knowledge of in respect to plagiarism and referencing. The most challenging is not a category but categories – I find all the literacy types challenging as they rely on concepts and skills I myself have not mastered yet but obviously need to in order to be a good educator in the 21st Century.
Nussbaum-Beach & Hall’s ideas of a connected educator are similar to my ideas in that a connected educator engages with others, is willing to share, is open-minded and reflective, listens, questions and has a willingness to try new ideas (2011, p. 11). Concepts different to my own of a connected educator were some I had not encountered or thought of before such as engaging in difficult topics and thought-provoking qualities like being mindful (how does mindfulness help?) and using a strengths-based appreciative approach (what is a strengths-based appreciative approach?).
I now know I have a lot to learn about modern literacies and it leaves me questioning, where do people find the time to be globally connected educators in a seemingly busy world? Or does it become easier as the educator becomes more connected?
Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L.R. (2011). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 9-24). Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Thomas and Brown state that the new culture of learning has 3 elements – play, imagination and questioning (2011, p.18). That a growing digital network will transcend the classroom and expand our learning opportunities with access to large amounts of resources and knowledge through our interactions with others online (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p.17). These interactions may happen through a myriad of online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts etc.
Whilst this is proposed as the ideal, how much of this really occurs in modern day learning and teaching?
Based on my own learning experiences in the past 2 years, a limited amount. Whilst this will vary for different people most of my learning has been based on face to face learning, a mix of online and face to face meetings and attending training courses through Adobe Connect. Virtually none of it has involved play and imagination, however, most of it has involved questioning.
Like Sam in Thomas and Brown’s article (2011) the majority of my most successful learning has come from collaborative learning processes using technology. I have found I learn a lot when I can use collaborative learning to ask questions, ‘question’ my ideas and gain new ideas and perspectives. Thomas and Brown (2011) would define this collaborative group as a ‘collective’ group – ‘a community of similarly minded people’ (p.21). An example of collaborative learning for me happens in the Yammer Librarian’s group, where I have learnt a lot about the various aspects of librarianship.
Like Allen (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p.26) another area where I have learnt a lot from with my own self-directed, informal learning is by ‘Googling’ my questions (the problem) to find a solution – particularly with computer program related problems.
I feel in INF532 we are trying to establish a culture similar to the gaming student’s example in Thomas & Brown (2011, p.25) who had formed their own community for learning, using the readings to make sense of what they were doing. We need to use our readings and share our experiences to grow our understanding of the process and tribulations of collaborative online networkers.
As an educator I tend not to use online collaborative learning (mostly due to a lack of access to computers) but have focussed on more traditional cooperative learning strategies (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter, 2012, p.13). Also, at this stage I am unconfident in my ability to provide collaborative learning opportunities to my students but hope with the establishment of my own collaborative network this will change over time.
Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-Life learning. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.
More information is produced now than ever before and is becoming increasingly entwined in our everyday lives (Bawden & Robinson, 2009, p.181). There are several characteristics of how information is produced in these new models of information production.
The growth of the internet, world wide web and social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have enabled people to connect easily with others.
However, with the introduction of faster and easier connections comes new models of information production and perception of information. With the ever-increasing amount of information available there is a perception that information is easily provided and should be free content (De Saulles, 2012, p.33)
The effect of increased information and changes to the way information is accessed has changed the way some organisations present their information. One such example are newspapers, which have had to move some of their content online and even incorporate content from online viewers. However, this move to online services has also resulted in some content having to be paid for to cover production costs or a blurring of boundaries into more ‘popular’ content with attached adverts (De Saulles, 2012, p.23) or sponsored content (De Saulles, 2012, p.20).
With digital technologies comes the ability for organisations to reach people easily and promote their information. As Firmstone and Coleman’s (cited in DeSalles, 2014, p.18) example shows Leeds City Council has used the advent of social media to connect with people in their district. Other spaces such as libraries and museums are also connecting with their patrons via social media platforms, such as Sydney Living Museums Twitter and Facebook feeds.
There are several challenges these new models of information present for educators. These challenges are based around how to find, use and question information and give credit to other users. Challenges include but are not limited to the following:
Students need to be taught to question information – is there a motive other than to provide information? (is the author trying to sell something or influence the reader in some way?)
People need to learn how to sift through the myriad of information available (Bawden & Robinson, 2009, p.182) or they may suffer from information overload or overwhelm.
Some information may not be readily available to everybody – schools may have to pay for information – such as subscription services to World Book Online etc.
Companies such as Google and Facebook only show information they think appropriate to the user based on the user’s searches, likes etc.
Due to the collaborative nature of information on the internet students must question is the information true? correct? (De Saulles, 2012, p.19) or biased? For example, Wikipedia’s information may be skewed by the demographics contributing to it (De Saulles, 2012, p.32).
Being able to find and give correct credit to users who generate their own content that is then ‘aggreated’ by others (De Saulles, 2012, p.18).
Whilst the new models of information provide many benefits, users must be able to find the information they need and question its validity and usefulness.
What other challenges do you see occurring with new models of information production?
Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191.
De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0: new models of information production, distribution and consumption. Facet Publishing.
I am fortunate as a teacher to have worked in both high school and primary school before I became interested in working in a school library. Across the two levels of schooling I witnessed many similarities in the role of the teacher librarian (TL) and a few differences, predominately in the main key role of their duties.
The key role of the high school TL appeared to be information sourcing. Much of her time was taken up with helping students find resources for study and collecting resources for teachers – books, dvds, journals etc. She would also provide ideas for teachers for resources to match lessons. According to the New South Wales Teacher’s Federation (1993), the TL “develops, organises and manages information resources which meet the educational, cultural and recreational needs of students and the professional needs of teachers” (“professional role”, point 5) as one of their key roles.
Alternatively, the main role of the primary school librarian appeared to be more on encouraging reading. The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) highlights one of the roles of the librarian is to “maintain literacy as a high priority, engaging students in reading, viewing and listening for understanding and enjoyment” (ASLA, n.d., “Teacher librarians as curriculum leaders”). Indeed, the New South Wales Teacher’s Federation (1993) states another of the key roles the TL does is “provides experiences to encourage reading.” (“professional role”, point 4). The TL’s I observed tried to foster/maintain students’ interest in reading by reading and discussing books etc and facilitating literacy – based competitions such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge.
A second key role of the high school teacher librarian was the responsibility for managing technology through coordinating the library computer bookings, assisting with computer and printing problems and processing printing payments.
A common role across both levels of schooling was supervision of students in the library. In primary school this mainly occurred before school (in some schools) and at lunch time (usually for children to play with computer games, toys or colour in). The high school teacher librarian also had before school and lunch supervision plus the responsibility of extra supervision of students completing open study courses and ensuring the library was quiet during senior study and examination periods in the library.
Interestingly, neither teacher librarian was thought of as a ‘real’ teacher by other teachers rather as a ‘librarian’, which perhaps stems from the easily visible roles of library administration such as borrowing, returning and shelving of resources (mostly books).
However, overall, the high school librarian seemed to be more valued as a resource than the primary school librarian. The general impression of primary school teachers was that teacher librarian is an ‘easy’ job, not really teaching and many teachers appeared to not really care what happened in library so long as they got their Release from Face to Face (RFF). The role was often also undervalued in primary school as not many teachers utilised the librarian for support with the curriculum or resources for it.
Whilst these are the main roles and perceptions that I observed about TLs, there are many more roles that go undetected. What other roles have you seen TLs carry out?
We all know about referencing and rightfully acknowledging the work of others in writing and ideas, but did you know that right of ownership extends to images as well?
So, in answer to your question you probably can’t just copy that picture and paste it into your work – it may belong to somebody else, so you had better check out the copyright on it first.
I knew to search for copyright free images, but I was unaware that it was called creative commons and it was polite protocol to caption creative common pictures/artworks with the author and source. On deeper thinking of the subject it only seems fair to acknowledge somebody’s work, even if they have given permission for you to freely use it for personal or commercial purposes. Plus, by giving a caption you are also allowing other people to access the source of the graphic.