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).

 

References

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, November 27). Blog Task #1 [Blog post]. Retrieved from
https://ephemerasite.wordpress.com/

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 10). Zombies and Literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from
https://ephemerasite.wordpress.com/

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2013, January 15). Blog Task #3 [Blog post]. Retrieved from
https://ephemerasite.wordpress.com/

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, November 26). Topic 1 [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from
http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=forums&forum_id=ETL401_201290_W_D_Sub7_forum

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 2). Hartzell Opinion Piece [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from
http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=forums&forum_id=ETL401_201290_W_D_Sub7_forum

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012b, December 2). Topic 2 [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from
http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=forums&forum_id=ETL401_201290_W_D_Sub7_forum

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 26). Re: Priorities [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from
http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=forums&forum_id=ETL401_201290_W_D_Sub7_forum

Brennan-Tucker, K. (2012, December 1). Topic 2 – take home message [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from
http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=forums&forum_id=ETL401_201290_W_D_Sub7_forum

Finch, M. (2012).The zombies of Tullamore: A library youth programme with a difference. Books and Adventures [Blog post]. Retrieved from
http://matthewfinch.me/2012/11/25/the-zombies-of-tullamore-a-library-youth-programme-with-a-difference/

Fitzgibbons, S.A. (2000). School and Public Library Relationships: Essential Ingredients in Implementing Educational Reforms and Improving Student Learning. American            Library Association. Retrieved from
http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume32000/relationships

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
http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html

SLASA. (2008). SLASA Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved from
http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html

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