The evolving role of the TL – from keeper and stamper of the books to…


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One of the things I find fascinating about studying my MedTL is the stark contrast between the subjects and topics I am engaging with. I experienced it last semester and I find myself in a similar situation this semester given the combination of subjects I have enrolled in. On any given day I can be learning about anything from metadata and cataloguing to exploring how the TL can work in a leadership capacity. It is a constant reminder of just how complex the role of a TL really is. At this stage of ETL504, it would be remiss of me not to admit to being completely overwhelmed by the leadership aspects of this role. Coming from small schools with small libraries, I have found it difficult to relate to the case studies presented so far. Despite this, when paired with the literature, I am beginning to understand why the TL would need to have a firm understanding of leadership principles in order to effectively run an effective library which effectively serves it’s school community.

What skills, strategies and leadership styles must the modern librarian employ in order to be a forward thinking and innovative contributor to their environment?

From what I have read so far, and that is what I am basing this on as I have no leadership experience, my understanding is that the best leaders adopt strategies from a variety of leadership styles. Smith (2016, p. 75) suggests that using an integrated model of leadership which draws upon a variety of leadership styles allows a leader to develop strong relationships, which he argues is the basis of strong leadership. This argument is supported by Moir, Hattie and Jansen (2014,  p. 5) who’s studies show that secondary teachers see relational qualities such as trust, respect and effective communication as essential in effective leaders.

Several weeks ago, I would not have understood how this could relate to the role of the TL. However, I now understand that libraries are not always the small spaces with two part-time staff that I am accustomed to. A school librarian will often be managing a team of staff who work undertake a multitude of tasks. They are also providing services to teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as students. This therefore requires a far more complex skill set from that of ‘stamper and keeper of books’. TLs are, in their own right, leaders within the school and while I know I have much more to learn, of this fact, I am sure.



Moir, S., Hattie, J. & Jansen, C.  (2014). Teacher perspectives of ‘effective’ leadership in schoolsAustralian Educational Leader, 36(4), 36-40. Retrieved from

Smith, B. (2016). The role of leadership style in creating a great schoolSELU Research Review Journal, 1(1), 65-78. Retrieved from

2 Comments on The evolving role of the TL – from keeper and stamper of the books to…

  1. marikamum
    August 2, 2019 at 8:05 am (3 years ago)

    I do think it is important for those of us in smaller situations (I am 0.6FTE TL with an assistant who usually comes in for about 2 hours per week) to not get too thrown off by the mega-school examples in the module and case studies. I am already coming from my initial position of scepticism regarding the leadership role of the TL ( to seeing aspects of leadership from the readings being played out in my current role. I think that especially in a small school, readjusting our perception of leadership from a formal title and position to being an influencer of people and programs in the school is a key.
    Buckle up, let’s enjoy the ride!

    • donna.drysdale
      August 3, 2019 at 10:17 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment Marika. I would have to agree with you there. As I delve into the Module 3 readings, I am beginning to see how this relates not just to people in leadership positions, but to anyone who is working in schools and wants to be a ‘change agent’ for the benefit of our students.


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