The role of the teacher librarian

Part B: Critical Reflection

Beginning this unit, my only tangible experience of teacher librarians (TL) in primary and secondary schools was of the TL at my high school. All I witnessed her do was connected to the more administrative side of her role, such as checking out materials and shelving items.

To quote Fitzgibbons’ (2000), “the mission of the library media program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information”. This has obvious implications for TLs in their roles as teachers  and information specialists because TL’s have a responsibility to inform students and educators of changing information communication technologies (ICTs) and the ways in which we access and use information in a variety of formats. I developed my understanding of this idea at the beginning of the unit when I blogged that the TL’s role included exposing students to “a variety of resources and technologies” (SLASA, 2008; Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Nov 27).

TLs have a role in supporting lifelong learning in students and staff through the acquisition of IL skills. In my third compulsory blog task I discussed the part IL plays in lifelong learning (Brennan-Tucker, 2013, Jan 15). In part, IL is about knowing how to learn and incorporates the idea that TLs teach students and educators how to use the library and its resources effectively and independently, a notion which developed in posts to my blog and the forum (Brennan-Tucker, 2013, Jan 15; Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Nov 26). Accordingly, TLs also have a role in collaborating with educators to develop authentic assessments that develop lifelong learning skills (Mueller, 2005, p. 17).

As leaders and curriculum contributors, TLs have a role in fitting their practice and decision making to their school environment. As I stated in a forum post: “any one program will not work for all students and all schools” as it is vital that TLs and teachers “work together and decide on what the specific needs of their school community are” (Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Dec 2). This corresponds to the notion that TLs, like teachers, have a role in being accountable for student learning outcomes, and should “keep records … to show increases in student learning outcomes due to their programs and collaborative efforts” (Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Dec 26).

This brings me to another point. TLs are responsible for promoting what they do so that their role is not considered superfluous. As I wrote in one forum post: the TL needs “to keep noting the needs of their community and adapting to meet those needs, advocating for their specialist skills as necessary to their roles” (Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Dec 1). This links to gaining principal support for their role, and making their successes and tasks visible and useful in the school community.

I believe TLs have more of a role in supporting the curriculum rather than developing it. They are information specialists who are able to promote new ideas, information research processes and ICTs to invigorate the curriculum, but are not the creators of it. This is one idea that has not changed with the unit’s teachings.

In the role of teacher, TLs are responsible for implementing information literacy classes, collaborative units of work with other educators based around project and inquiry based learning, and perhaps even full sensory programs such as the Zombie Apocalypse run by librarians in Tullamore to develop students’ literacy (Finch, 2012; Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Dec 10). These ideas were grown from my readings and are evidenced by my forum post: “TLs need to partner with teachers to implement curriculum and learning strategies” (Brennan-Tucker, 2012b, Dec 02).

TL’s have a role as change agents  and need to cope with ever-evolving ideas of literacy and the tools we use to communicate. This entails they have a role in changing staid educational practices to accommodate these new technologies and bridge the digital divide, as I mentioned in my first blog post where I discussed transliteracy and the convergence of literacies (Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Nov, 27).

Obviously with so many roles to play the TL needs to prioritise certain roles over others. Time management and organisation thus play key parts in a TL’s role, as he/she needs to juggle teaching and learning with administration duties and collection development. I agreed with Lamb (2011, p. 27), and still do, where she argues that the teaching, collaborative and curriculum contributor roles of the TL are the most vital to the life of the school and its students and staff.

Consequently, through this unit, I have come to realise that the role of the TL can, at various times, incorporate the following: information specialist, teacher, program administrator, curriculum contributor, collaborator, advocator, change agent and administrator (Herring, 2007, p. 27; Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Nov 27; School Library Associations of South Australia, 2008). These roles are dependent on the needs of students and educators as they relate to the curriculum, information, and lifelong learning in today’s digital world where “success is largely determined by one’s ability to access and use the world’s information” (Brennan-Tucker, 2012, Nov 27).



Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, November 27). Blog Task #1 [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 10). Zombies and Literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2013, January 15). Blog Task #3 [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, November 26). Topic 1 [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 2). Hartzell Opinion Piece [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012b, December 2). Topic 2 [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 26). Re: Priorities [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 1). Topic 2 – take home message [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Finch, M. (2012).The zombies of Tullamore: A library youth programme with a difference. Books and Adventures [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Fitzgibbons, S.A. (2000). School and Public Library Relationships: Essential Ingredients in Implementing Educational Reforms and Improving Student Learning. American            Library Association. Retrieved from

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp. 27-41). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends, 55(4), 27-36.

Mueller, J. (2005). Authentic Assessment in the Classroom… and the Library Media Centre. Library Media Connection, April/May, 14-18.

School Library Association of South Australia. (2008). SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved from

SLASA. (2008). SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved from


Information literacy, more than a set of skills

Blog Task #3

Topic: “Information literacy is more than a set of skills”. Present an argument for or against this statement, drawing upon the research and professional literature to support your views.

It is my belief that information literacy (IL) is definitely more than a set of skills. If it were only that, then it would not be too difficult to obtain competency in information literacy with the right method of teaching. In today’s realities, literacy not only concerns reading and writing, but also that one has skills as well as knowledge in and an appreciation of how text, visual and digital literacy interact (House, 2011, p. 44; Kirton & Barham, 2005; Ipri, 2010, p. 532). It is about understanding how various literacies can be used in the pursuit of lifelong learning and how to move from one medium to another as much as it is about learnable skills (Ipri, 2010, p. 533).

While by looking at various IL models, such as ISP and the Big6, it may seem information literacy is merely a set of learnable and transferable skills, this is not so. It encompasses these skills, but also is a way of thinking about information and learning (Kuhlthau, Heinstrom & Todd, 2008). As Doyle suggests, IL is the “ability to access, evaluate, and use information from a variety of resources, to recognise when information is needed, and to know how to learn” (Langford, 1998).

Information literacy can be said to be a “transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes” (Herring, 2007, p. 33). IL not only incorporates the ability to express oneself through text and the spoken language, but also through digital images, sound, video and body language (Warlick, 2007, p. 21). Furthermore, IL is about recognising one needs information in the first place, and that one has the mindfulness that issues of bias and accuracy affect information (Chartered Institute, 2002, p. 40). IL, as a concept, changes as society’s needs, technologies, and cultures change, and is thus an ever-evolving concept with no set of wholly definable skills that can be learnt. This all entails that information literacy is more than a set of measurable skills.

This all has implications for the TL. In such an information environment, a TL’s role is to support students’ knowledge and abilities to read for both understanding and pleasure, to gather and use information for educational tasks as well as their own purposes, to develop existing schemas and construct new knowledge, to be able to use and produce information in a variety of formats, and evaluate information and their own work (Hamilton, 2011, p. 34). To meet technological, IL and student achievement demands of today, TLs need to collaborate with staff and students to perform these roles effectively, so as to increase student achievement and ability to become lifelong learners through effective IL skills and knowledge. This is all relevant to the idea that IL is “about people’s ability to operate effectively in an information society”, and that IL is not just a set of skills, but incorporates lifelong learning and the capacity and nous to effectively access and participate in the information society (Kirton & Barham, 2005). Therefore, information literacy is more than a set of skills.

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). (2002). Start with the child. Report of the CILIP Working Group on library provision for children and young people. London : CILIP, pp. 36-50.

Hamilton, B. (2011). The School Librarian as Teacher: What kind of teacher are you? Knowledge Quest, 39(5), pp. 34-40.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information. Wagga Wagga : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy: What does it mean to academic libraries?. College & Research Libraries News,71(10), 532-567.

Kirton, J. & Barham, L. (2005). Information Literacy in the Workplace. The Australian Library Journal. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C.C., Heinstrom, J. & Todd, R.J. (2008). The ‘information search process’ revisited: is the model still useful?. Information Research, 13(4). Retrieved from

Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: A Clarification. From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal, 4(1), 59-72. Retrieved from

Warlick, D. (2007). Literacy in the New Information Landscape. Library Media Connection, August/September, 20-21.

“Teachers are to inspire; librarians are to fulfill.” – But perhaps a teacher librarian does both…

– Ray Bradbury

According to the SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement the teacher librarian’s roles incorporate them as playing the manager, teacher, information specialist, leader, curriculum contributer, promoter of services and advocate (School Library Association of South Australia, 2008). The TL is further described as being flexible and seeing change in a positive light, and also that they have a role in providing other staff members with professional development opportunities that they themselves run (School Library Association of South Australia, 2008). Thus their collaborative efforts are not just with staff to help design teaching and learning opportunities for students, but are also there to design teaching and learning opportunities for staff.

School Library Association of South Australia. (2008). SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved from

Principal Support

Blog Task # 2

Comment on the role of the teacher librarian (TL) in practice with regard to principal support.

TLs often see principal support as vital to their own role, but too frequently only expect and get minimal support (Oberg, 2006, p. 13). Because Principals have a role in schools to build the future direction of education through the empowerment of and collaboration with staff and partners, through planning and resource allocation, and dealing with issues affecting the school community, and as it is they who control the school’s allocation of resources, it is vital for the TL to gain the support of their Principal (Oberg, 2006, p. 13; Hartzell, 2003, p. 93). Accordingly, part of the TLs role is to develop principal support if it does not come naturally.

It is clear from the literature that principal support is beneficial to TLs and thus schools. For example, in Indiana, a study showed that students achieved higher learning outcomes when the school principal valued the TL, met regularly with them, understood their role and involved them in school committees (‘School’, 2008, p. 12). Furthermore, Principals who are involved in TL programs speak positively of them and of the TL’s role (Oberg, 2006, p. 15). In Australia, studies on supportive Principals have shown they are happy to support TLs and treat them as leaders if they met the expectations set by them: developing the information literacy of students and staff, providing a future plan of the library’s services and programs that meet school goals, and to develop their own skills to be informational leaders within the school (Oberg, 2006, p. 15).

The ways in which a Principal may support the school library include that they take an interest, supervise staff and support programs, and mentor staff to highlight the importance of the library and the TL’s role (Oberg, 2006, p. 14). I particularly like Oberg’s (2006, p. 14) idea that if Principals are teachers as well, then they can model the importance of library programs by including them in their own teaching practices.

TLs have a role to effectively participate in two-way communication with principals and help the school reach its goals (Oberg, 2006, p. 16). Accordingly TLs need to support the Principal in realising the interconnectedness of school goals, library programs and information literacy (Oberg, 2006, p. 16). My mother is a primary school teacher in a remote Indigenous school in the NT, and as there is no TL or library program, she takes her class to the library each week to model reading and literacy. This pursuit is beneficial to the students and something they all look forward to, but gets no formal recognition from the Principal nor support in the way of the Principal becoming actively involved. The value of the library is overlooked as a centre to support learning. What I hope to highlight here is that in some cases there are no TLs, and teachers need to take on their role to a degree so as to widen the experiences of students, and they need principal support to help this catch on and become the norm.



Hartzell, G. (2003). Building Influence for the School Librarian: Tenets, Targets, & Tactics, 2nd Ed. Ohio: Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), pp. 13 – 18.

School Libraries Work!, 3rd Edition. (2008). Scholastic Library Publishing. Retrieved from

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

– Benjamin Franklin


Revisiting Purcell’s (2010) article allows me to consoidate the idea that teacher librarians are not just involved in staid old practices of being seen and not heard, of checking in and out books, and in other mundane (yet no doubt necessary in other ways) administration tasks. They have roles as leaders, teachers, collaborative and instructional partners, information specialist and program administrator (Purcell, 2010, p. 31).

Just like the above quote, teacher librarians have a role in improving student learning outcomes via involving students in real and meaningful learning experiences. They may collaborate with teachers to create units of lessons which not only address curiculum material, but are also relevant to the convergence of 21st century literacies and changing technolgies. I think to be most beneficial to the whole school community, a school wide approach to incorporating the teacher librarian’s work and knowledge is important.



Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection.


Zombies and Literacy

Recently while gaining some more work experience as a volunteer at Parkes Public Library, I learnt about the enrichment programs put together by staff at Parkes Public Library with the help and ideas of Dr Matthew Finch. One such program was the Zombie Apocalypse held at Tullamore Public Library in NSW, where students from the local Central School had to develop survival skills and research appropriate information and escape plans to outlast the Zombies outside the library’s walls (Finch, 2012, online).

The idea was to develop childrens’ and young adults’ literacy in an enjoyable way where they were not preoccupied with feeling that it was all too much like hard work. The local school got on board with the program, and the following Monday after the event had the children and teenagers working on creative literacy activities, which they were all more than happy to participate in.

The relevance here for teacher librarians is that they are able to put in place these sorts of inspirational and creative literacy programs where all of the senses are stimulated and where students are happy to be involved in and extend their literacy through writing and research activities during and after the event.

See the link below for further details.



Finch, M. (2012).The zombies of Tullamore: A library youth programme with a difference. Books and Adventures. Retrieved from

Future ideals and ideas…

What are the implications of the changing information and library landscape for the broader information profession?

I quite enjoyed reading about the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and how it has opened a so-called “library without walls” in the Pittsburgh Public Market in order to deliver library services and meet users where they are (Berry, 2012, online). In this case it means taking the library to a place where library users (potential ans actual) frequent on the weekends for shopping (Berry, 2012, online).

This article held my interest as recently while on my work placement at Libraries ACT branches in Canberra I learnt that they have a mobile library which also frequents outdoor events so as to increase publicity and deliver services to users where they are. This means that the mobile library will go to markets, school events and so forth.

So, to conclude these little thoughts, libraries and the information profession are changing to realise libraries are no longer located in one physical place, but instead are moveable, able to shift to where users need their services, and able to meet user needs in new ever-changing ways.

Berry, A. (2012). Beyond the Book Mobile. Time. Retrieved from

“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

―   Thomas Jefferson

Blog Task #1

Comment on the role of the teacher librarian (TL) in practice with regard to the convergence of literacies in the 21st century.

In today’s social, educational and informational realities, success is largely determined by one’s ability to access the world’s information, and today this necessitates a knowledge and understanding of a variety of literacies. Accordingly, more than ever the role of a TL – as information specialist and teacher –is to teach (Herring, 2007, p. 27).

The School Library Association of South Australia describes the TL’s role as being partly to aid students in using and expose them to a variety of resources and technologies, integrate ICT into education, and teach/encourage information literacy skills (SLASA, 2008, online). Indeed, the wide use of e-learning tools and digital resources today mean that information literacy is important, and consequently TLs have changing roles in how to teach students and staff different transferable skills about plagiarism, copyright and evaluating information (Herring, 2007, pp. 32-34).

Lankshear et al (2000, p. 25) ask us to see literacy as ‘ever-evolving’ with society and technologies, and O’Connell (2012, pp. 5, 7) uses the term ‘transliteracy’ to describe being literate in the 21st Century and beyond, where literacy is multi-modal. For example, more and more ICTs are being utilised in schools and incorporated into teaching and learning practices, requiring students to not only be print literate but also have operational skills in information literacy (Herring, 2007, p. 28). As such, TLs have a role in working with principals and teachers to make sure these various types of literacies and their interconnectedness are taught and used; they also have a role in decoding information systems for staff and students in a way that is accessible and useful to them (Herring, 2007, p. 31).

A TL has the role of empowering students with the ability to access and use information, in a variety of formats, effectively (Hamilton, 2011, p. 34).A trend affecting the role of the TL in the 21st Century will be the progression of more complicated search tools/technology; at the moment most searches are done via text, but in the future searchable attributes will include taste, speed, mass, and so on (Frey, 2012, online). This entails that users will not have the time or skills to use these search technologies and will require the services of a professional, in this case a TL, to show them (Frey, 2012, online).

The convergence of literacies has also led to such things as textbooks being now available as eBooks, and laptop/iPad programs in schools (O’Connell, 2012, p. 4). As such, it is now appropriate to educate students in a variety of connected literacies; the TL has a role in providing and collaborating with teachers to provide and work with information in a range of formats (O’Connell, 2012, p. 5). This could mean social media, print materials, eBooks, audio-visual material, mash-ups and so forth.

Thus it can be seen that in order to effectively participate in today’s society one needs to be literate in a variety of ways, and the TL as a bridge between teachers/assignments and technology/libraries has a role in effecting this.




ASLA. (2012). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from

Frey, T. (2012). The Future of Libraries. The DaVinci Institute, Inc. Retrieved from

Girolami, A. & Ryan, S. (2008). The role of the teacher librarian in learning and literacy. inCite, 29(5), 12.

Hamilton, B. (2011). The school librarian as teacher: What kind of teacher are you?. Knowledge Quest, 39(5), 34-40.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp. 27-41). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lankshear, C., Snyder, I. & Green, B. (2000). Understanding the changing world of literacy, technology and learning. In Teachers and Technoliteracy: Managing literacy, technology and learning in schools (pp. 23-47). St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

O’Connell, J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: School libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, March 2012.

SLASA. (2008). SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved from


“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
―   Maya Angelou