This blog post is a required task for ETL401 to answer, “Reflecting on your experiences of school libraries thus far, write a 500 word piece about how you think the role of the TL is perceived by parents/community in schools.”
My educational and professional background is in Early Childhood education, and the vast majority of my limited professional experience is in child care settings, with the remainder restricted to a few days casual teaching in private schools. I did, however, fill in at a school library one day a week for a term while the librarian was on long service leave. My responsibilities were simply to open the library, check books in and out, reshelve books, and provide some student supervision at lunch time. It was more of a library assistant or volunteer role than a teacher librarian role, so my personal experience is quite limited.
As a child I attended a small private school, and I have dim memories of that first librarian teaching us in the library but I cannot recall any of the content as it was about 30 years ago now. The second librarian was the wife of the principal and I don’t recall her taking any library classes, just that she would sit in the office in the back of the library and the only time I remember having contact with her was to borrow books. My high school employed a librarian, not a teacher librarian.
My children are at school, so I can reflect as a parent. One school my children attended was a small school of less than 100 students. The teacher-librarian worked part time in a room smaller than an average classroom, and taught science to all the students as part of the teachers’ relief from face to face teaching. She was a much loved part of the school and her recent death was mourned by the school community. Another school which my children attend is staffed by a mature lady who always seems very serious. She takes each class once a week for library where they listen to a story and borrow books. She marks each student on their library participation in each report but my experience is that everyone is given the same mark unless something was outstanding. The library does not seem to be a valued part of the school, if the school website is anything to go by. There is nothing obvious pointing to the library on the website, and the only content that can be found upon searching is a remark about library opening hours (in the behaviour policy, describing playground supervision provisions) and a sentence on another page to click ‘here’ to see the library catalogue – although there is no hyperlink available.
Jackie French recently wrote an article about the value of a teacher librarian and the essential role they play in the life of a school (French, 2018). French argues passionately that budget must be allocated not just for beautiful library buildings, but for resources to fill those libraries and a paid, qualified teacher librarian to run it (French, 2018, para 5 and 9). This reflects a lack of greater community understanding of the value of teacher librarians. I want to work somewhere that values their libraries and teacher librarians, which can be done regardless of the size of the school or their library budget.
French, J. (2018) School libraries: miracles and madness. Connections Issue 104, Term 1 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-104/school-libraries-miracles-and-madness/
Word count 532 (plus task description, headings and references).
For the sake of my personal privacy and the privacy of the school concerned, I have elected not to link to the school’s website that has been mentioned.