The role of the teacher librarian (TL) can broadly be understood by looking at the elements of:
- Who we are
- Where we are
- What we need to know and
- What we need to do.
Who we are
To misquote Karl Menninger “What the teacher (librarian) is, is more important than what he teaches.” (“Karl A. Menninger Quote,” n.d.). It is the way in which individuals fulfil their role as TL that defines how both the profession and the individual is viewed. Aspects of this include strength of character (Bonanno, 2011), communication, cooperation, collaboration, interaction and relationships with those they come in contact with including students, teachers, principals and other members of the school community (Bonanno, 2011; Farmer, 2007; Gong, 2013; Lamb & Johnson, 2004a; Morris & Packard, 2007; Oberg, 2006, 2007; Valenza, 2010). Being a positive role model as a life long learner, inquirer and innovator with impeccable honesty and ethics is considered to be at the basis of who a TL is (Farmer, 2007; Lamb & Johnson, 2004b; Oberg, 2006; Valenza, 2010). Drawing from research in the corporate world, it would appear that likeability is more important than competence in fostering collaboration and working relationships (Casciaro & Lobo, 2005).
Where we are
The context within which the TL operates cannot be ignored (Bonanno, 2011; Morris & Packard, 2007). This includes the national educational or LIS (Library Information Science) ideology or systems and the background and personal experiences of all the school library stakeholders. Even within the relatively homogenous environment of a single country and culture, differences exist from school to school while in the context of an International school this can be amplified (Tilke, 2009).
When looking at the literature on school libraries in less developed economies, with single textbook, chalk and talk teaching methods, where there is an absence of policy and research, lack of specialist staff in either the teaching or librarian sphere, and a weak or neglected presence in the information society, (Abdullahi, 2009; Alomran, 2009; Odongo, 2009; Rengifo, 2009) the old Persian proverb “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet” rings true.
What we need to know
The TL is expected to be a specialist both in teaching and in LIS. They need to combine knowledge, skills and experience in collection and resource management, information literacy, technology integration, curriculum and learning (Herring, 2007; Kaplan, 2007; O’Connell, 2012, 2014; Purcell, 2010; Valenza, 2010a). Various national and international professional organisations attempt to codify the skills and knowledge required in their standards and benchmarks for school librarians and set aspirational standards of excellence (ASLA, n.d.; “Australian School Library Association,” n.d., “International Association of School Librarianship – IASL,” n.d., “SLASA School Library Association of SA,” n.d.; IFLA, n.d.; Kaplan, 2007).
What we need to do
The core of what the TL does is advance school goals in an evidence based and accountable manner (Everhart, 2006; Farmer, 2007; Lamb & Johnson, 2004a; Oberg, 2002; R. Todd, 2003; R. J. Todd, 2007). The principal way in which these goals are achieved is through teaching and collaborating with other teachers (Herring, 2007; Purcell, 2010; Valenza, 2010). In addition, TLs managing people, resources and facilities (Everhart, 2006; Farmer, 2007; Tilke, 2009; Valenza, 2010).
In conclusion, the role of the TL is multi-faceted and dynamic as it continually adapts to the environment. In each of our individual contexts it is worth taking heed of S.I. Hayakawa’s comment that “Good teachers never teach anything. What they do is create the conditions under which learning takes place.” Those conditions are a combination of attitude, knowledge, skills and actions.
Abdullahi, I. (Ed.). (2009). Global library and information science: a textbook for students and educators: with contributions from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North America. München: K.G. Saur.
Alomran, H. I. (2009). Middle East: School libraries. In I. Abdullahi (Ed.), Global library and information science: a textbook for students and educators: with contributions from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North America (pp. 467–473). München: K.G. Saur.
ASLA. (n.d.). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Australian School Library Association. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2014, from http://www.asla.org.au/
Bonanno, K. (2011). A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. Keynote speaker: ASLA 2011 [Vimeo]. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from https://vimeo.com/31003940
Casciaro, T., & Lobo, M. S. (2005). Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks. Harvard Business Review, 83(6), 92–100. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2005/06/competent-jerks-lovable-fools-and-the-formation-of-social-networks/ar/1
Everhart, N. (2006). Principals’ Evaluation of School Librarians: A Study of Strategic and Nonstrategic Evidence-based Approaches. School Libraries Worldwide, 12(2), 38–51. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=24234089&site=ehost-live
Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56–65. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=25545935&site=ehost-live
Gong, L. (2013). Technicality, humanity and spirituality – 3-dimensional proactive library service toward lifelong learning. Presented at the LIANZA Conference, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.lianza.org.nz/sites/default/files/Lidu%20Gong%20-%20Technicality%20humanity%20and%20spirituality%20-%203%20dimensional%20proactive%20library%20service%20toward%20lifelong%20learning.pdf
Herring, J. E. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.), Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27–42). Wagga Wagga, N.S.W: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
IFLA. (n.d.). IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto. Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s11/pubs/manifest.htm
International Association of School Librarianship – IASL. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://www.iasl-online.org/about/handbook/policysl.html
Kaplan, A. G. (2007). Is Your School Librarian “Highly Qualified”? Phi Delta Kappan, 89(4), 300–303. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=27757339&site=ehost-live
Karl A. Menninger Quote. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2014, from http://izquotes.com/quote/290881
Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2004a, 2014). Library Media Program: Accountability. Retrieved November 25, 2014, from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/accountability.html
Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2004b, 2014). Library Media Program: Evaluation. Retrieved November 25, 2014, from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evaluation.html
Morris, B. J., & Packard, A. (2007). The Principal’s Support of Classroom Teacher-Media Specialist Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 36–55. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=25545934&site=ehost-live
Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School Libraries in Canada, 22(2), 10–13+. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/222527406?accountid=10344
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13–18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224879111?accountid=10344
Oberg, D. (2007). Taking the Library Out of the Library into the School. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(2), i–ii. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=28746574&site=ehost-live
O’Connell, J. (2012). So you think they can learn. Scan, 31(May), 5–11. Retrieved from http://heyjude.files.wordpress.com/2006/06/joc_scan_may-2012.pdf
O’Connell, J. (2014). Researcher’s Perspective: Is Teacher Librarianship in Crisis in Digital Environments? An Australian Perspective. School Libraries Worldwide, 20(1), 1–19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1543805459?accountid=10344
Odongo, R. I. (2009). Africa: School Libraries. In I. Abdullahi (Ed.), Global library and information science: a textbook for students and educators: with contributions from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North America (pp. 91–107). München: K.G. Saur.
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, 29(3), 30. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=55822153&site=ehost-live
Rengifo, M. G. (2009). Latin America: School Libraries. In I. Abdullahi (Ed.), Global library and information science: a textbook for students and educators: with contributions from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North America. München: K.G. Saur.
SLASA School Library Association of SA. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html
Tilke, A. (2009, September). Factors affecting the impact of a library and information service on the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in an international school: A constructivist grounded theory approach. (A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy). Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.
Todd, R. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: how to prove you boost student achievement. (Cover Story). School Library Journal, 49(4), 52+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA100608794&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=194fea091c82b000bb3b69ca05004411
Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidenced-based practice and school libraries : from advocacy to action. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57–78). Westport, CY: Libraries Unlimited.
Valenza, J. (2010, December). A revised manifesto [Web Log]. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/
World map: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/World_Map_Icon.svg
5 thoughts on “ETL401 Blog Task 1: The role of the TL in schools”
Hi Nadine, your blog formatting shows you are not a newby! Something to aspire to!
A different perspective on the role. It is a very complex varied role that is for sure. I like the last statement that the best teachers do not teach but create the right conditions for learning. Definitely something to remember.
I wish Trudy! I’m still pretty frustrated with WordPress as I don’t have the layout I’d really like nor the skills for doing things I’d like to do (for example I’d like the font to be a larger size and for that to be a default, not something I need to change every time!) I’m hoping one of our cohort can give WordPress advice in exchange for citation advice!
Great blog Nadine!
I am a newly at all of ‘blogging’ stuff! You have it down pat as far as I can see. I am running so far behind at the moment due to work commitments at school I don’t know how I will keep the pace up. Maybe the holidays?
Nadine, your post demonstrates a breadth in reading where you have synthesised a number of ideas to present a personal perspective of the role of the teacher librarian. Your graphic effectively shows the links between your four elements. Three is scope to bring in a personal note to build reflective dialogue; moving beyond a review and interpretation of the literature to apply this to your own perspectives. Use of a category and tags are purposeful and references are carefully presented – good to see the image credits included. Investigate the editor to use italics for titles in the future. I look forward to sharing your experiences. Jennie
Thanks for pointing that out – I realised that my referencing had a “bug” in it after your comment – something that’s never happened to me before, so I’ve become a little complacent in assuming the referencing would be correct! I contacted zotero to find out what was going on (https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/42932?page=1#Item_1) and it seems if the first book in your bibliography has a really long title it messes up the italicising of the rest of the bibliography!
I’ve corrected it retrospectively now … so it should all be correct.