I completed the Graduate Diploma in Information Studies Teacher Librarianship some time ago and have been working as a Teacher Librarian since 2002. I have also worked as an Information Specialist in a corporate setting. This year I am extending my professional learning and updating my academic studies to a Master of Education Teacher Librarianship at CSU. Looking back my motivation to become a teacher librarian was inspired by a teacher librarian at a school where I worked on a casual basis, I considered the role to be special in that you taught all classes K-6, teamed up with class teachers and spent time with books and organising information – this was the mid 1990’s so technology in school libraries was limited. During my experience I have witnessed considerable changes to the teacher librarian role particularly in regard to technology (Boyer, 2015) for management of resources and for teaching and learning. More recently, the implementation of the Australian Curriculum has provided significant opportunities for teacher librarians particularly in regard to the General Capabilities and Cross Curricular Priorities, the focus of quality literature (McDonald, 2013) in the English Curriculum and the attention to inquiry learning (Lupton, 2012) and (McIlvenny, 2013).
Teacher librarians have a unique and important role in schools, day to day responsibilities range from collection development, reading promotion, information and digital literacy guidance, manager of the physical collection and library layout, designer and manager of the online library, facilitator and provider of professional training (Lupton, 2016) and a central person to many students who find the library a special place to be. Implementing literature, information and digital literacy skills into the school curriculum is an essential role of a teacher librarian as noted by Scholastic (2016). More recently teacher librarians have been involved with the Makerspace Movement (Bonanno, 2016) requiring skills in new technologies exploring design, creativity and problem solving. As this could all be in a day’s work the need to be welcoming, up-skilled, organised, flexible, and able to prioritise is essential.
ASLA (2016) defines the role of a teacher librarian as an active member of a school community who promotes a high standard of service in relation to information facilities and teaching and learning programs. To be an effective teacher librarian it is essential to stay abreast of changes with technology and the curriculum, collaborate with teachers and coordinators, communicate with senior executive staff and work within and towards fulfilling the school’s cultural needs and values.
As there is no one prescribed program for a school library this requires teacher librarians to be familiar with the needs of the school community and be creative in how they can add value to teaching and learning. According to Foley and Hay (2007) to ensure teacher librarians are valued and utilised by the school community it is essential that they actively create positive and informed relationships with the school principal, teaching staff and students. Being well-informed on the school’s teaching and learning needs, flexible, planning innovatively and creatively for learning, and presenting the ‘unexpected’ (Hatznell, 2003) ultimately creates best practice and allows for highly valued perceptions of the teacher librarian’s role.
Australian Library and Information Association and Australian School Library Association. (2016, July). Statement on Teacher Librarians in Australia. ASLA Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/policy_tls_in_australia.pdf
Australian Curriculum. (n.d.). Australian Curriculum. Australian Curriculum Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/
NSW Education Standards Authority. (n.d.). History K-10 Objectives. NSW Syllabus Retrieved from http://syllabus.bostes.nsw.edu.au/hsie/history-k10/objectives/
Baker, S. (2016). From Teacher to School Librarian Leader and Instructional Partner: A Proposed Transformation Framework for Educators of Preservice School Librarians, School Libraries Worldwide, 22(1), 143-159.
Bonanno, K. (2016). Being a leader in your school community. Access, June, 10-17.
Boyer, B. (2015). Designer Librarian: Embedded in K12 Online Learning. TechTrends, May/June 59(3), 71-76.
Foley, C., & Hay, L. (2003). Shaping our profession: teacher librarianship in the future. Scan, 26(3), 21-27.
Hartzell, G. (2003) The power of audience: effective communication with your principal. Library Media Connection 22(2), 20-22.
Lupton, M. (2012). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access, June, 12-18.
Lupton, M. (2016). Adding Value: Principal’s Perceptions of the Role of the Teacher-Librarian. School Libraries Worldwide, 22(1), 49-61.
McDonald, L. (2013). A Literature Companion for Teachers. Primary English Teachers Association Australia.
McIlvenny, L. (2013). Inquiry Learning with the Australian Curriculum Part 2. Access, June, 14-18.
Scholastic. (2016). School Libraries Work. A Compendium of Research Supporting the Effectiveness of School Libraries. Scholastic. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com.au/assets/pdfs/school-libraries-work.pdf