What does a teacher librarian actually do?

I have always had a deep love of quality children’s literature and have been an avid reader since I was a child. I attended a rural school in country Victoria and one of my fondest memories was visiting the mobile library to borrow books each month. My love of books continued as I became a classroom teacher and I never missed an opportunity to incorporate literature into my lessons to support my teaching. I truly believe that whatever the subject, there is always a text to be found which will enhance my teaching and the student’s learning.

When I first decided that I wanted to make the transition from classroom teacher to teacher librarian, I imagined myself reading stories to the students, helping them learn how to select appropriate reading material and inspiring the students to become active and avid readers and information seekers. I dreamt about creating magical nooks within the library for students to settle into with their favourite books where they could travel to far away places or learn about something new that makes their world the incredible place that it is. In my role as a classroom teacher, I have had very little to do with the teacher librarian, in any school, so I was somewhat surprised to learn what a teacher librarian’s role entailed.

The role of the teacher librarian in the 21st century

In a rapidly changing world where there is an app for every imaginable task, where one can access reading material 24/7 and where anyone can publish their own thoughts and ideas for the world to see, the role of the teacher librarian is a complex one, and vastly different to what it used to be.

“Teacher librarians support and implement the vision of their school communities through advocating and building effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners”.

(Australian School Library Association, 2014, p. 1).

The Australian School Library Association (2014, p. 1) identifies three major roles of the teacher librarian which include:

  • being a leader within the school
  • being a highly skilled information specialist
  • being an information service manager

A 21st century librarian is an information expert and use their expertise to ‘enhance digital and information literacy, resource the curriculum and help students become critical, creative and collaborative thinkers’ (ACT Government Education Directorate, 2012, p. 3). They are curriculum experts who work with teachers to help them effectively embed ICT skills into their lessons, whilst at the same time teaching the students to be discerning information gatherers and users.

My misconceptions

My initial understanding of the role of the teacher librarian has already shifted fundamentally in the past few weeks. The role of the teacher librarian is not a simple one, but rather, a multi-faceted and highly significant one. The teacher librarian in an expert in curriculum, leadership, pedagogy, collection management and digital literacy, among other things. The mere fact that I had little idea what our school librarian does tells me that there is much work to be done, at least in my own workplace, around the promotion of the amazing work that teacher librarians do and the invaluable resource that they are to our school communities.



ACT Government Education Directorate. (2012). School Libraries: The heart of 21st century learning. Retrieved from: https://www.education.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/916301/School-Libraries-21st-Century.pdf 

Australian School Library Association (2014) What is a teacher librarian? Retrieved from

8 Comments on What does a teacher librarian actually do?

  1. benc.kristi
    March 11, 2019 at 5:17 am (3 years ago)

    Loved your blog post 🙂

    What type of classroom teacher were you and what has been your relationship to your librarian in this role? I know that you’ve said that you had little to do with your librarian and I was just wondering if you think that this is because of your KLA or if other factors have lead to the limited relationship.


    • donna.drysdale
      March 16, 2019 at 11:33 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Kristina,

      Thank you. I have been teaching in the early years for the past little while in a part-time capacity.
      I think that in the early years, we are working with our children to get them excited about reading as well as to teach them about the concepts of print, which is predominately what our TL did with our children, in addition to us as classroom teachers. I feel that teachers don’t understand the value or the expertise that librarians possess, I certainly didn’t. I failed to look beyond a librarian’s role of borrowing and shelving books to see that I could be tapping into a really valuable resource. Of course, know what I know now, I won’t make the same mistake again.

  2. Daniel
    March 15, 2019 at 3:58 am (3 years ago)

    How good was the mobile library!

    • donna.drysdale
      March 16, 2019 at 11:25 pm (3 years ago)

      It was, and still is, a wonderful service provided to those who are unable to easily access a library.

  3. the-powells
    March 24, 2019 at 9:25 am (3 years ago)

    Loved your views!

    • donna.drysdale
      March 24, 2019 at 10:52 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks so much.

  4. Judy O'Connell
    April 1, 2019 at 4:35 am (3 years ago)

    I would say that you are officially launched in the study of teacher librarianship! Already, as you say, your understanding and your views are changing – and that is really exciting. Study is not just about learning content – it’s about developing in the way you engage with others. This is happening to you! I cannot wait to see where this journey takes you, but in the meantime, good job in getting started, setting up the blog, categories, and getting writing.

    • donna.drysdale
      April 20, 2019 at 6:19 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you Judy.


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