Topic 2: ETL401

Topic 2: ETL401

The role of the TL:

As I am not yet employed as a TL my understanding of the role may not be as clear as it is too many of you who are already in the enviable position of working in this area (you have my sincere admiration)!  However a description I keep coming across is that TLs are “uniquely qualified” or possess “unique qualities”.  Who wouldn’t want to be described in this manner!

From what I can ascertain, TLs not only need to be knowledgeable in educational policies and curriculum planning, but also to be competent teachers and have excellent library and information management skills as well.  I would imagine a high level of communication and negotiation skills would also be useful, when attempting to convince executive staff members of your school to approve funding for increased resources and staff etc.  I am very interested to hear what everyone else’s view of this role is.

4 Responses

  1. jodie.murray at |

    Hi Sue 🙂
    Well done on creating your blog, you look to have done a fantastic job.
    Like you, I am not employed as a TL, and I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed at the moment if I’m honest. I’ve just been looking through our assignments. I hope I’m not the only one feeling like this 🙂
    All of a sudden I am feeling an abundance of admiration for all of those people who are currently working in the role of TL in their respective schools! Hoping I have what it takes to get through this 🙂
    Good luck with your journey Sue 🙂

  2. sue at |

    ETL401 – Assessment 1 – Blog Task 1

    I have not yet worked as a Teacher Librarian; hence these past few weeks have been a very enlightening journey for me. I am slightly ashamed to admit that before I started this course I did think the TLs role was much simpler then I now realise. Whilst I wasn’t quite in the category of Purcell (2010) in “All librarians do is mark out books, right?”, I did have a very narrow view of the whole role and thought the library was primarily for the purpose of students to borrow books.
    Since beginning my study, one of the most enlightening tasks I have undertaken in addition to reading a variety of texts, was to hold discussions with two very experienced teacher librarians. One was at a very large suburban public school and the other at an exclusive private school. With over fifty years’ experience between them at two very different educational institutions, I was particularly surprised to hear their main role is sourcing and providing resources for the teachers to meet curriculum needs. They were also responsible for acquiring and cataloguing these resources in both written and digital forms. This directly relates to what Herring J. states that “Teacher librarians need to be aware of the learning and teaching context in which they work because it is the learning and teaching that happens in the school which is at the heart of the school” (p27).
    I was also surprised to hear about the amount of time they spend actually teaching students. One Teacher Librarian is spending so much time teaching she has difficulty getting what she calls her “actual library duties” completed and has to do them out of hours.
    I have come to realise that whilst the role of Teacher Librarian can vary depending on the needs of the individual school, there are certain key elements of their job responsibilities that remain the same including: resourcing the curriculum, acquisition and cataloguing, the library management system, and their teaching roles.
    Expanding on this, the twelve “Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians” published by ASLA (2004) are an invaluable source of information. These twelve standards include lifelong learning, information literacy, curriculum and pedagogy, reading, assessment management, the learning environment, learning and teaching programs.
    In order for the role of Teacher Librarian to continue to be a vital part of the education community I believe that the key is for us to endeavour to become indispensable. As Walter & Weisburg advocate, the Teacher Librarian’s ongoing challenge at all times is to demonstrate that “You and your school library program is central to achieving the essential goals of the district and the students will be harmed if they are deprived of what they learn in the school library under the directions of a skilled, certified school librarian” (p.4). It is through this indispensability that we are going to continue to thrive and be an essential part of every school.

    Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) (2004). Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians. Retrieved from
    On 8/3/2014

    Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

    Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

    Walter, Virginia A.; Weisburg, Hilda K., (2011) Being Indispensable: A School Librarian’s Guide To Becoming an Invaluable Leader ALA Editions, Chicago

  3. at |

    Well written and articulated Susanne,
    Even when writing a critical reflective piece, try to refrain from making it a series of quotes from authors, ie. he said, she said. All this indicates to the reader is that you can read and regurgitate what other people have said, rather than your interpretation and understanding of what you have read. Your intext references indicate that this isn’t just your opinion but can be substantiated by others working in the field. This is the difference between postgraduate/Masters level and undergraduate. Getting there!

    Some great contrasts between your previous experiences and what you know now. Many teachers consider TLs to be escapees from the classroom, and have no idea that the role encompasses two distinct disciplines. Many TLs get subsumed by the ‘library duties’ and use old practices which are time consuming. This is where technology can help you to streamline your workflow to create time and space in your day for the curriculum design and teaching roles.

    A good response that is well on topic. Well done. 🙂 BC


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