Image: Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
Managing a library budget is part of the role of the teacher librarian (TL). Library budgets are often limited, which calls for the TL to carefully consider the way the budget is spent, as well as varying ways that funds can be generated. Lamb and Johnson (2012) suggest that an effective budget manager must be a collaborator, steward and a thinker.
An effective collaborator works with all members of the school community including students, teachers, administration and the wider community (Lamb & Johnson, 2012). Creating an awareness of budget challenges and opportunities allows transparency and understanding from all community members. It may also serve as a means or prompt to build relationships with other lenders such as local libraries, or provide opportunities for groups and organisation to donate funds which can be used to purchase much needed resources and equipment.
As a steward of the library, the TL understands the importance of seeking input from others in regards to the library collection. This allows the needs of the community to be front and centre, ensuring that money is spent where it is needed most. This might look like developing surveys to find out what resources the teacher feel they need, or talking to the school principal to find out what the current priorities are and then purchasing resources accordingly. A steward uses their resources wisely.
As a thinker, the TL shows innovation and expertise. They are creative with resources and may need to look ‘outside the box’ in order to obtain more. To demonstrate their worth, they need to show that they have ideas which will benefit the school community and have an obvious presence within the school.
As Lamb and Johnson (2012) point out, the TL will not always have access to money that they need and so they need to carefully manage what funds they do have and in some cases, look for funding elsewhere.
Lamb, A. & Johnson, H.L. (2012). Program administration: Budget management. The School Library Media Specialist. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/administration/budget.html
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:
- 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.
- Focus – Follow. One. Course. Until. Successful. Know your outcome and apply strategies until you reach your outcome.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
This week, the penny dropped. Life slowed down a little and I had the opportunity to spend time exploring some of the websites associated with the acronyms that regularly pop up in my class notes. As a classroom teacher, I am familiar with a few of these but there are also a lot of library associations that I know little about. Since I am a visual learner, I found it useful to list all of these down and visit them one after the other in order to gain an understanding about what each organisation does.
I’m learning that Australian teacher librarians love using acronyms but for us newbies to the profession, they can take time to commit to memory. For my own personal reference, and anyone else who is just starting out, here are a few associations with accompanying acronyms to get you started. Most of these links will take you to the role statements of the respective association.
ALIA – Australian Library and Information Association
ASLA – Australian School Library Association
AITSL – Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership
IASL – International Association of School Librarianship
IFLA – International Federation of Library Association
Hopefully these acronyms will be rolling off my tongue in no time but for now, this is a point of reference for me. I have no doubt I will be adding to this list in the near future.
Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash
A library collection is reflective of the community in which it sits and the purpose for which it serves. Furthermore, it is an every evolving entity and has a life cycle which never ends (Hibner & Kelly, 2013, p.22). My experience with libraries as a classroom teacher has taught me that a library collection serves a broad range of groups and purposes, and as such, must contain a balance of resources, be they digital or analogue.
Despite spending many, many hours of my life in libraries, I am yet to work in one, so I was interested to do some further reading this week about developing collections. From my readings this week, I was surprised to learn that there is no one way to develop and manage a collection, but rather a variety of strategies that different libraries employ in order to best meet the diverse needs of the library community. In her book, Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management, Peggy Johnson (2009, p. 108) says:
Selection is both an art and a science.
Johnson (2009, p. 108) talks about the selection process being one which draws not only from knowledge and experience, but also intuition. She also says that the mastery of collection management is developed by the repeated and frequent practice of collection building. This idea challenged my thinking as I had, presumably incorrectly, assumed the the collection of books must follow and adhere to a specific policy. I had also assumed that when a collection policy was written, that’s how it would stay. However, Hibner and Kelly (2013, p. 24) suggest that just like the collection, the collection management policy must also be regularly updated in order for it to be of use. Initially, I wondered what they purpose of a collection policy would be if it was going to constantly change, however upon reflection, I came to understand that as budgets and resources change regularly, so too must the collection policy if it is going to remain current.
As another week passes, I am reminded of just how little I know and how much more I need to learn about the complexities of collection management and maintenance.
Hibner, Holly, and Mary Kelly. Making a Collection Count : A Holistic Approach to Library Collection Management, Elsevier Science & Technology, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=1575569.
Johnson, P. (2009). Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management (Vol. 2nd ed). Chicago: ALA Editions. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=267756&site=ehost-live
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 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