What does a library do?

How does a library influence the teaching and learning of a school?


How does a school library, its services and resources contribute to teaching and learning?  When I started my course two years ago, my understanding of the capabilities of a library and a teacher librarian was restricted to resourcing the curriculum and providing recreational reading.

Now, five units later, I am starting to become more aware of what a well staffed school library and teacher librarian is capable of.

The above concept map is how I feel my school library contributes to the teaching and learning within the school.  I was amazed at how many adaptations I had to make to the original flow chart.

This is my original flow chart of how I thought the library as the information centre contributes to the overall learning outcomes.  But flow charts do not show the relationships between areas or how one impacts the other.

For example – The cycle of Pedagogy, curriculum and assessment is continuous and requires regular reviews.  For example, pedagogical practice impacts learning outcomes and requires teachers review their practice to ensure best practices is maintained.  

But you can’t show those relationships on a flow chart or a hierarchal chart…



When motivation matters – integrating digital literature into classroom practice.

geralt / Pixabay


My journey into literature started very traditionally.  Like all members of my generation (after boomer but before Z), I learned to read from first readers to chapter books, series fiction and comic books ( more Jughead than Nimona) and all of them in print.  Consequently as an adult, my preference for recreational reading is for print and I do use digital journal articles for educational purposes but that is a matter of expediency rather than inclination. As I have documented my reading journey in previous blog posts so I will not go into that again. 

(But you are more than welcome to read about my love of reading/books etc.  Try this one when I fell in love with reading, or this one about the importance of storytellng, or this one about childhood favourites)

My personal  preferences for text formats have leached into my professional practice.  As an early career teacher I always favoured print texts for my classrooms because that was the medium I was confident and comfortable using.  I was reluctant to explore and use digital literature because I wanted to conserve my faculties for behaviour management and pedagogical practices.  I did not want to add in technology and digital literature to my already overloaded self.  

Fast forward two years and my foray into the role of a teacher librarian has forced me to extend my practice into the digital realm.  I have learned how to teach information literacy by navigating my way through ebooks, audiobooks and interactive books online.  I have downloaded and experimented with book apps, created bento boxes and book trailers.  Through this journey of discovery using digital literature and creating digital text, I have come to the conclusion that there are three main concerns when advocating for the inclusion of digital literature in the classroom.  These concerns are, students, teachers and the technology itself. 

The most commonly cited impediment for the implementation of digital literature into classrooms are the students themselves.  I have previously detailed the multitudinal issues relating to reading and comprehension of digital texts in another blog (see here), so I will just give a synopsis now. Besides the usual issues of forgotten, uncharged and missing laptops, many students struggle with reading digital literature because they struggle with visual ergonomics in digital texts.  Their inability to locate text leads to reduced comprehension and negative mental representation of the text (Mangen et al., 2013, p.66).  This lack of comprehension, combined with poor digital literacy (see this post!) and the fact that many students are easily distracted by games and social media can negatively impact the integration of digital literature in classroom practice. 

Teachers themselves are another liability when it comes to the implementation of digital literature in the classroom. Even though AITSL (2017) is very clear in the Teacher Standards that ICT needs to be included in teaching strategies (Std 2.6), and within resources selection (Std. 3.4), there is still a strong reluctance among many teachers to use digital literature meaningfully in their classroom practice.  This disinclination to use digital literature could be due to a myriad of reasons as Hyndman (2018) explains in this article.  One very pertinent reason is that many teachers feel pressured to suddenly become digital experts as they often assume they need to be the expert so as to instruct and assist students in their learning (Hyndman, 2018).  Hyndman (2018) goes on further to say that these feelings of anxiety can exacerbate in schools with  BYOD programs as the large variability in student device capability can cause increased technology anxiety.  But there is no expectation that teachers be experts in understanding the complexities of individual devices nor in how the digital literature was created, only that they use them in their teaching practice (AITSL, 2017; ACARA, 2014). 

geralt / Pixabay


The last crucial variable is the literature itself.  Digital literature comes in many formats and ranges from scanned books on a website, ebooks, enhanced ebooks, linear narratives, hypertext nonlinear narratives and mobile applications for tablets and smartphones.  Each of these literature formats may use different technology, require competency in different literacies and consequently need specific pedagogies for instruction.  The combination of these new formats and technologies can be overwhelming for many teachers.  Unfortunately, professional development for teachers regarding ICT and digital literature is often ad hoc and lack specific focus, which can inhibit the integration of these technologies into classrooms (Howard & Thompson, 2016). 

When you view these issues, it seems evident that the best way to improve the breadth and variety of digital literature in classrooms, is to explicitly motivate, introduce, and teach educators about the various formats and their applicability to classroom practice (Korthagen, 2017; Hyndman, 2018).  As teachers we have little control over student’s device selection and swiss cheese memories.  But we can have control over our own learning and behaviour.

There are a myriad of learning courses available for teacher education, and teachers are encouraged to extend their professional development.  This explicit instruction targeting ICT and digital literacies would be assumed to automatically lead to a cognitive change in teachers, which in turn would correlate to improved integration of digital literature in classroom practice.  (Korthagen, 2017, p.390).  But this assumption of correlation following a cognitive change is a fallacy as behavioural change requires more than just improved cognition, it requires motivation and affect too (Korthagen, 2017, p. 389-390)!   

Therefore it seems foolhardy of ATSIL (2017) and ACARA (2014) to mandate the integration of technologies and multimodal literature into classroom practice without accounting for the requirements of behavioural change (Korthagen, 2017, p. 389-390).  Simply dictating teachers to increase digital literature into classroom practice will not succeed in altering their behaviour, as this level of change requires cognition, affect AND motivation (Korthagen, 2017, p.390).  Affect not only has an impact on teacher behaviour but also on student motivation.  Teachers who are frustrated and disinclined with using digital literature are not going to translate the value of that format to their students.  Whereas teachers who gain pleasure from using ICT are more enthusiastic about it, and this has a positive effect on their motivation too.  Intrinsic motivation in teaching comes from teachers having a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedness in their profession (Korthagen, 2017, p.391).   A teacher that has learned about digital literature, through formal professional developments or informal social learning is more likely to implement those new practices if they are enthused about it and that they can apply this knowledge in a manner of their choice.  

So it appears the best way for a teacher librarian to introduce and promote digital literature in schools is to:

  1. Run training sessions for teaching staff and support staff about various digital literature formats and how they meet specific learning outcomes.
  2. Share your ideas, enthusiasm and motivation about digital literature, model, talk, blog and boast about how it works for your classroom, and most of all, be positive and laugh about it –  After all, happiness and a smile are way more infectious than COVID-19.

Pexels / Pixabay




ACARA. (2014j). Information and communication technology capability learning continuum. F-10 – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1074/general-capabilities-information-and-communication-ict-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

AITSL. (2017). Standards for Teachers. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards

Howard, S., & Thompson, K. (2016). Seeing the system: Dynamics and complexity of technology integration in secondary schools. Educational Information Technology, 21, p.1877-1894. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10639-015-9424-2.pdf

Hyndman, B. (2018). Ten reasons teachers can struggle to use technology in the classroom. The Conversation [Blog]. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/ten-reasons-teachers-can-struggle-to-use-technology-in-the-classroom-101114

Korthagen, F. (2017). Inconvenient truths about teacher learning: towards professional development 3.0. Teachers and Teaching, 23(4), p.387-405. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13540602.2016.1211523?needAccess=true

Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R. & Bronnick, K.A. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61-68.doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002 

Mantei, J., Kipscombe, K., & Kervin, L. (2018). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA)

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Multiliteracies – Being literate across multiple formats.

Literacy is influenced by social, cultural and technological change and the information revolution has increased the modes of communication available for children, teenagers and adults alike.  (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.24).  As technology evolves, social and cultural practices need to adapt to this new paradigm. 

To be an active and informed citizen individuals need to be multiliterate.  This means a person needs to be confident in a range of literacies, across a variety of modes and able to translate those skills across all sectors of their life  (Anstey & Bull, 2006, pp. 19-22).  In order to have mastery with these multiple literacies, individuals need to be able to adapt their practices to suit the whichever context is available (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.20).  

Anstey & Bull (2006) have summarised the skills of a multiliterate person: 

As the diagram above shows, a person’s ability to be multiliterate (ML) is also multifaceted.  A ML person is able to determine the context of work and then instinctively switch to the literacy that best suits that mode of communication, for example, reading an email to watching a TikTok video, to listening to an audiobook.  This flexibility is essential in modern society and requires the reader, or text user, to be able to alternate between different forms of text that may present in daily life.  

What does this mean for pedagogical practice?  

The notion of text has evolved significantly over the past few decades.  I have mentioned this shift in a previous blog post about literature in digital environments.  Therefore, a shift in text types means there needs to be a shift in literacy based pedagogical practices (Anstey & Bull, 2006).  Remember literacy is influenced by social, cultural and technological change (Anstey & Bull, 2006)! 

Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) point out that since language and literacy exist within the ACARA’s multiliteracy framework, there is firm mandate to include multimodal texts within educational practice.  Anstey & Bull (2006) concur, and believe that pedagogy to promote multiliteracy needs to address the changing nature of texts, that literature is learned in a social context and critical literacy is essential for informed action.  

Within classroom practice Anstey & Bull (2006) argues the importance of balancing the variety of genres and formats for teaching and learning purposes.  Whereas Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) believe that long term exploration of texts across the curriculum using text exemplars and features, as well as the explicit teaching of semiotics and critical thinking are better suited to student learning.   

Anstey & Bull (2006) emphasis the fact that literacy identity is pivotal to multiliteracy (p. 36).   As literate practices are linked to social and cultural development, literacy identity is the combination of experiences from both the real world and the school world (Anstey & Bull, 2006).  By being aware of their own literacy identity, a person consciously understands their own abilities to decode a set of resources and their faculty for critical literacy (Anstey & Bull, 2006).  Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) point out that the best results for teaching multiliteracies occur when it is taught using active learning and a student centred approach (p.220). 

Critical literacy is a tenet of multiliteracy (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.37).  This is based upon the fact that students are exposed to a variety of texts from all contexts of life including, education, employment, social and recreation.  But not all texts hold equal authority.  Accuracy and validity are not guaranteed, and students need to learn to be able to differentiate between reliable resources and false information, especially on the internet.  By exposing students to a range of texts from a trusted adult like a teacher or teacher librarian, through literary learning or via book bento boxes and book trailers, they are given opportunities to develop their critical and multimodal literacy with the hope of translating those skills to life outside the classroom  (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.38).  



Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Teaching and learning multiliteracies: Changing times, changing literacies . Newark, Del.: International Reading Association. 

Hepple, E., Sockhill, Tan, A. & Akford, J. (2014). Multiliteracies pedagogy: Creating claymations with adolescent post-beginner English language learners. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(3), 219-229. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1002/jaal.339

Analysis of Lupton (2014) paper – Module 5.3a

Edwin01 / Pixabay
Late to the ball


We live in an information rich society.  Our world is quickly adapting from industrial to one based upon the creation and dissemination of information.  This economic revolution needs a society that is fluent in information literacy.  Unfortunately, the education sector is resembling Cinderella with their late arrival to the information literacy ball.  Even though the national curriculum was designed with the goal of active and informed citizens, it has failed to meet the task at hand.

Lupton (2014) points out succinctly that there is no information literacy embedded within the Australian curriculum in her analysis.   It does seem fairly obvious that inquiry skill strands are the place to look for the elements that then link back to IL. A teacher librarian is ideally the perfect person to identify these elements and create the links due to their knowledge of the curriculum and holistic view of the learning and teaching within a school.  Unfortunately, we also know that there are many schools that there is no teacher librarian and thus there is no one to make these links in an effective manner. Consequently, teachers and students are often unable to have a planned learning sequence that builds upon prior knowledge. This inability to construct new knowledge upon prior knowledge, is a direct contradiction to the constructivist theory of guided inquiry.

As Lupton (2014) surmises, there is an inquiry focus within the national curriculum in three KLAs; science, history and geography.  Each of these areas addresses inquiry skills with slightly different applications. These mannerisms illustrate the strength and weaknesses of the curriculum to address IL.  Unfortunately, these subjects are not equally structured with respect to IL and thus, the embedding of these skills are inconsistent.

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This variance between KLA’s has lead to science being the weakest of the three in regards to information literacy.  Whilst the research process is vigorous, the data is just gathered with the role of interpretation insufficient. The inquiry skills aspect is aligned only to the experimental procedure and there is limited correlation between the strands.  There is also a lack of consideration of the social, cultural, economic context of the investigation. This lack of social context means that the investigation is often difficult for students to apply newly gained information to real world applications which in turn defeats the ‘action’ part of the process.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

History KLA has strong IL embedded into its curriculum.  The nature of the strands mean that both the questioning and information seeking behaviour are important.  The strong dependence on primary and secondary sources means that students are constantly utilising skills in information seeking and using.  There is appropriate scaffolding within the curriculum that promotes independent learners. Geography, according to Lupton (2014) has the strongest in IL because; the questioning is stronger and varied, action is required in some form and lastly, it promotes personal and social growth and that the tasks are multidisciplinary.  As questioning is the cornerstone of inquiry, the Geography KLA allows for different perspectives of the same question as well as it forces the student to consider the views of the audience. It is clearly the most sophisticated and comprehensive inquiry skills based subject within the curriculum.

The problem with the Australian curriculum is that IL is not embedded within and across the curriculum in all KLAs.  Information literacy is cumulative. To have an IL education, sustainable development is required across all years and areas of study.  It is should be part of the content, structure and sequence of learning; and definitely not the outcome of a single subject.


Bundy, A. (Ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy.

Lupton, M.(2014)  Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6, Access, November