When asked to consider what sort of a role I can see myself fulfilling as a Teacher Librarian I had a difficult time refining my response. Upon creating my list I found that we Teacher Librarians embody so many skills and have many expectations placed upon us regarding our role, our duties, our knowledge. The expectations can differ from person to person, professional to professional. A parent defines Teacher Librarians one way, a Principal another, and each places emphasis upon differing aspects of our roles that they see as more important.
(We don’t just do loans and catalogue searches, you know!)
Casting aside the expectations of others I can put forward the Teacher Librarian I wish to be.
Herring (2007) stated that the ‘role of the Teacher Librarian is a multi-faceted one’ (pg 5) and in completing my information graphic on the role I see myself fulfilling, I know why!
Within my teaching career so far, I have had contrasting views of how Principals perceive the role of the TL. Within a Catholic School in NSW, I saw a Teacher Librarian who was well supported by the Principal and her colleagues. RFF time was taken by the Assistant Principal so the TL was able to teach and plan collaboratively with her colleague teachers. Ample time was given for planning, assessing, and reporting; and library time was recognised as a time for rich learning. In contrast to this, at a school I worked at in QLD, they did not employ a Teacher Librarian at all. Instead, each class teacher would take their class to the library for borrowing and perhaps a story. The library was not used as a place for learning. There was nobody to advocate for the importance of the library. The Principal did not see this as detrimental to the school and funding was spent elsewhere.
In order to change the perceptions of those who do not understand the important role a Teacher Librarian performs, I suggest that we:
- Continually promote the library as a rich teaching/learning space. Share resources with colleague teachers, demonstrate in your teaching and lessons how the library is a quality learning environment where students are able to approach learning in ways that they are unable to in the classrooms.
- Constantly engage within Professional Development. Keep well-informed of advancements in your field and revolutionise the school library to keep up to date with these changes. Demonstrate teaching and learning experiences, and the school library itself, on the school website. This will give the whole school community, and the broader community, the opportunity to see the value of the work Teacher Librarians do.
Australian Schools Library Association (2012). Policy: Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved 19 March 2013 from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
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. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends, 55(4), 27-36.
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.
Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. In School Library Journal. Retrieved 19 March, 2013 from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/