January 13

Reflective Professional Portfolio – ETL507 Assessment 5

Part A: Philosophy

Many hats of a TL infographic

The diversity of a TL’s roles. Copied from Facebook post by CBCA, South Australia. (Levin, n.d.).

An effective teacher librarian (TL) fully engages with students and staff as both teacher and librarian. The TL supports teaching and learning experiences by: resourcing the curriculum in a manner that considers the local context; providing access to and implementing current research in best teaching and learning practices; developing the information literacy and fluency capacity of students and staff; and inspiring a love of literature and ethical information use. The TL also develops themselves and their library by keeping up to date with best practices in the information services industry and responsibly managing its resources.

Part B: Thematic Reflections

I have focused my reflections on the themes of leadership, technology and literature. These themes are ones that recur throughout most, if not all, subjects in the course and are areas where I could see growth in my understanding and application to my practice throughout the course.


At the outset of ETL504: Teacher librarian as leader I was sceptical about the claim that leadership is part of the role of the teacher librarian. As I detailed in my initial blog post for the subject, my experience with school leadership structures did not resonate with the idea of the TL being recognised as a school leader. Through reading the discussion forum and blog posts of other students on this topic, I realised that perhaps it was my understanding of leadership that needed to change. I therefore engaged in the subject with a mind open to entertaining such a paradigm shift.

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November 8

Placement diary week 4 final day

The time has flown by and here I am at my last day of my professional placement. It was time to wrap up the different activities I had done over the course of ten days and bid farewell to Sydney Uni Libraries.

My fellow placement student, Julie, and I finished our curriculum collection shelving improvements project and presented it to my supervisor and the other staff who had forwarded information from prior efforts to us. They gave some suggested tweaks but said it sounded like it was on target. We finished up the report and submitted it to our supervisors, who will take the proposal to the director.

I passed the affinity diagram themes that I had recorded from our map to my supervisor. He will merge that with the work he has done over the past week and call that phase of the project finished.

I also got to see some of the furniture that my supervisor had ordered for the Law Library and Fisher Library in situ and being used by students.

My supervisor gave me positive feedback and signed off on my evaluation and it was time to call things a wrap! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back sometime!

November 4

Placement diary week 3

A full week at Sydney Uni!

Highlights from the week 28 October – 1 November:

Research on vinyl cutter

One of the initiatives my supervisor was currently working on was to purchase a vinyl cutter for the Library. For the Learning Spaces area, this would be useful for creating signage decals. A proposal had been put forward to the Director to combine staff and student use for the vinyl cutter by purchasing it to be housed in the Library makerspace, Thinkspace, and therefore provide value to library users as well as the administrative staff. Five models had been included as potential recommendations in the proposal. I was tasked with doing some further research on these models and meeting with my supervisor and the manager for  Thinkspace to present my findings. I was pleased to have my recommended cutter requested, with some of my arguments used to support the suggestion, and ordered.

Research on persona templates

The initial plan for the user experience (UX) research for the Conservatorium of Music (the Con) Library was to get information from students representing different courses, subject streams, years, and so forth and create personas to inform renovation plans. To that end, I was asked to look into potential persona templates to use in the project. Creating personas is frequently used in marketing and commercial UX projects. Many of the persona creation and template sites had a high amount of demographic and “buying habits” information that was not useful for our context. I found a simple, straightforward and easily customisable template at Xtensio. I created an example for our project on that platform. Continue reading

October 26

Placement diary week 2

Another 2-day week on placement.


The plan for the day was to do more user experience (UX) interviews at the Conservatorium Library (the Con). However, the morning provided an

Sydney Conservatorium of Music 2019

A beautiful spot for a bit of work – “The Con” (c) 2019 Marika Simon

interesting insight on the unpredictability of the Learning Spaces coordinator role. A delivery of tables came for two library sites at 7:30 in the morning, with the email notifying the coordinator of the timing coming overnight. On arrival at 9 am, we went running around sorting out various issues and providing a liaison between the delivery worker, the staff at the various sites and the installer (who was meant to show up at 7:30 with the delivery, but did not arrive until around midday) to ensure that everything was in a reasonable space.

After a brief lunch break, we headed out to the Con and I scribed a couple of interviews led by my supervisor and then continued on my own until around 4:30. I tried to catch people either as they entered or were about to settle in to a study spot or to catch them when they were up and moving around. I attempted to get users from each of the study areas on the level we were targeting, hoping that I could also get a reasonable cross-section of student types. The plan is to start pulling out themes and creating an affinity diagram next Monday.


Today was a “find out more about the library in general” day. I got an intro to frontline services with one of the access services managers and access to the online training for the ALMA library management system (LMS). I also got a chance to shadow staff at the main information desk and in the returns room, along with a TAFE placement student. The final learning experience for the day was touring the non-traditional library spaces – where the collection is not books and traditional information material formats, but rather human resources, technological devices, and study space. Highlights from the various experiences follow: Continue reading

October 19

Placement Diary Week 1

I am doing my placement in Sydney Uni Library’s Learning Spaces division. This comes under Site Services/Facilities Management for the library. My understanding of the mission is to improve the various spaces under library management to optimise the user experience.

Sydney Uni FIsher Library

Sydney Uni Fisher Library (c) 2019 M Simon

Here are some rough-and-ready thoughts from my first week:

Corporate culture and leadership

I find it much easier to see the value of the material on leadership styles, corporate culture and change management in this large, established organisation.  My usual small primary school context is set within the larger Department of Education corporate culture, but the relevance of that is harder to see on a daily basis. In my placement, I can see more value in viewing events and interactions through a leadership theory lens. Being able to understand where attitudes and procedures come from and how to deal with initiating and overcoming resistance to change has daily practical value in this environment. Learning Spaces is all about change management. The remit is to observe and analyse what is in place, then collect evidence, and propose changes to improve the space (and then implement those changes.) Issues such as giving time for staff ownership of change and the need for an iterative process were evident. For example, in the SciTech library the reference and circulation service points have been changed from a large circulation desk to smaller height-adjustable pods. The intention of these pods is to be standing-height service “touchpoints” where staff have one to two hour shifts providing front-line service to users. When touring the libraries, these pods were set at seat-height and the staff I observed were sitting and working on the computers on their pods and did not even look up to take notice of users, such as myself, entering the library. This seems to be an example of a change that has been implemented but that has not been “owned” by the staff and will need to be re-visited to optimise the service. Continue reading

October 11

Out of the frying pan…into the blogosphere

Having just submitted my final assessment that will actually be marked on the Fail to High Distinction scale, I feel my course drawing to a close. I have decided to take the plunge and export my student blog posts out into the wider web. Hopefully having a populated blog will encourage me to move my blogging practice into my regular work life and not just keep it confined to Uni.

If you are interested in keeping up with me, you can now find me on http://marikasimon.edublogs.org/– I hope to see some familiar names! I will probably mirror my posts between the two blogs for a bit if I can keep track of that ;).

See you out in the wide, wide Web!

October 7

ETL504 Assessment 2 Part B Reflection

My view on the case study group work moved from initial dread (Simon, 2019, 23 July) through to hope for a positive experience (Simon, 2019, August 9). In the end I feel this component has contributed to my developing practice of leadership and understanding how it relates to the role of the teacher librarian (TL).

In our first group effort, members stepped up as initiators, contributors, opinion seekers, elaborators, orienters and encouragers (Roberts, 2012; Simon, 2019, August 18, ). Donna Thurling (2019, September 22) suggested that perhaps groups should have been seeded with some dominators, blockers or aggresors (Roberts, 2012).  I disagree because I think the value of the experience is the authentic nature of the situation. Negotiating with real people rather than just roles or scenarios gave insight for my practice of leadership as a TL. Evaluating real-life reactions to my initiation (Simon, 2019, August 18) or hanging back (Simon, 2019, September 9) developed my understanding of how to effectively manage teams when leadership is distributed to me as TL. Continue reading

September 21

Time is an illusion. Case study posting time, doubly so.

With my apologies to Douglas Adams and Case Study Group 9, time got away from me and our assembled-on-time group response was posted to the forum after the Friday midnight deadline. I think this highlights one of the potential downfalls of distributed leadership. Distributing leadership depends on having an overarching, supervising main leader from whom leadership is distributed to other parties. In the case of our case study group, since we are all trying to be leaders, yet all trying NOT to assert dominance over each other, in the end analysis something fell through the cracks. This week, the timely posting of our response was that thing.

This week was generally hard for us. More than one person commented on feeling less confident about the case study material – noting the narrowing of focus. The wiki-page creator and analysis initiator this week set things up in a slightly different way, which made it more difficult for me to connect with the material. We ended up identifying 4 major deeper issue areas for five people to comment on, but people were also slow to claim topics, so there was more confusion about who was covering what. I know that I had a hard time snapping into the frame of mind for analysing the case study while waiting for the return of the first assessment, processing the feedback when it was returned and beginning to process the requirements for the second assessment. I think a single, in-charge, following-up leader/manager would have helped our process to go more smoothly this week.

On the other hand, this week was definitely a team-bonding, relationship-building success. We had a lot of back and forth conversation in the wiki comments section and I feel we are bonding more as a team. I would not be surprised if some relationships from this group continue past the group exercise, the subject, the session and perhaps even the course. Since I feel that the greatest worth in this part of the course is the networking opportunity and the participation in and analysis of the group dynamic – I actually count this as a relatively successful week.

Five down, one to go.

September 16

By the skin of my teeth

Yay! The assessments were returned a few days early. I made it to my target (HD) by the skin of my teeth which is a great relief due to the immense uncertainty I felt about this assessment. Ironically, I felt more confident in my assessment for INF520 and I did not make it over the line for that one.

I was thankful that the written critical analysis was weighted more heavily than the concept map for this assignment. I suspect that I think more verbally than visually. I certainly found the critical analysis an easier way of unpacking, explaining and expressing my understanding than the concept map. Unsurprisingly, in that case, I received higher marks on the analysis section than on the concept map section.

Concept map of the leadership structure in a 21st century school

Concept map of the leadership structure in a 21st century school (Simon, 2019).

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September 14

Crisis of faith


I am once again losing the faith. I have stepped away from the path of true devotion and am floundering on the shoals of doubt.

I am having a crisis of belief as the modules start exploring collaboration, the TL as leader, and :booming echo-y voice: 21st Century Learning (learning… learning)…

My character arc was developing beautifully. Starting as a sceptic about the notion of TL as leader, working my way along the path of dawning realisation of different styles and paths of leadership, embracing the concepts of servant leadership and leading from the middle. I constructed my concept map and my idealised vision of the shining golden city – the Utopia of a Change-Resilient Twenty-First Century school leadership structure. It was a struggle but I was on the road to paradise.

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