Are teacher librarians an endangered species?


Karen Bonanno’s speech at ASLA, 2011 conference

In Karen Bonanno’s speech at the ASLA conference in 2011, she responds to a claim made by Scholastic that teacher librarians are considered ‘an endangered species’. Bonanno argues that the teacher librarian profession is considered invisible by some, because people are not aware of what teacher librarians actually do and their contribution to academic excellence in schools. She highlights the fact that there was no visible evidence to show the impact of the school librarian and stresses the need for this.

Bonanno argues that we do indeed still need librarians but they need to make themselves more visible, and suggests that teachers must demonstrate the following qualities to demonstrate their worth and increase their visibility:

  1. Strength of character – Bonanno stresses the importance of having a presence within your school eg. having an online presence such as a blog. Essentially this means marketing yourself and building strong networks with others in the profession.
  2. Focus – Follow. One. Course. Until. Successful. Know your outcome and apply strategies until you reach your outcome.
  3. Brand – Bonanno says the TL needs to identify where they sit within the standards and have a strong sense of who they are and what they stand for.
  4. Relations – Bonanno suggests TLs need to focus on working with the people who will work with them rather than focusing their attention on those who don’t want to and probably never will.
  5. Little things count – what you do in your school that others don’t. Bonanno suggests being the person in the school who will assist staff and students in ways that others don’t.

A common theme throughout Bonanno’s speech is the importance of teacher librarians continually up-skilling to keep current in their knowledge, particularly in the area of ICT. She also suggests that TLs should focus their attention on the general capabilities within the Australian Curriculum because these allow the TL to bring in inquiry learning and critical and information literacy, and also support their colleagues in this area. While Bonanno believes that teacher librarians are still greatly needed in schools, she maintains that it is up to TLs to advocate for the profession by applying the above strategies to make themselves visible and prove their value and relevancy in the 21st century.


Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2011). A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. Keynote presentation, Karen Bonanno . Retrieved from https :// vimeo .com/31003940

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