My initial perception of the role of the teacher librarian came from my existing role as a science and maths teacher in a grade 7-10 school. I believed that the teacher librarian was responsible for helping to find books for students to read and for organising the library. The teacher librarian or technician could offer advice to staff and students about how to locate books and whether there was a book or DVD available on a certain topic. The teacher librarian was also responsible for ordering text books and DVDs for faculties. The library was a place for English classes to read silently and for other classes to research a topic using tubs of appropriate books.
However, there is so much more.
The readings provided in ETL401 at Charles Sturt University as well as posts on the forum have given me an insight into a much broader, dynamic, collaborative and interesting role of the teacher librarian.
I was not alone in my narrow perceptions. Natalie Kriss (2011) held similar views and believes that collaboration with teachers is very important.
The two roles of a teacher librarian that stood out the most were firstly the role of the teacher librarian in curriculum involvement and secondly that of collaborator; both of which are inextricably linked.
The role of teacher librarian in curriculum involvement was completely new to me despite having taught for seven years.
I was pleased to receive a response from Shirley on my blog post where I asked “I wonder how many teacher librarians are actually involved as a partner in curriculum planning”. I found this really encouraging because she is heavily involved in curriculum planning.
Purcell (2010), Todd (2010) and Herring (2007) are amongst the academics who view the role of teacher librarian as a collaborator in curriculum planning.
In fact, one of the professional standards of the Australian School Library Association is as follows “2.2 collaboratively plan and resource curriculum programs which incorporate transferable information literacy and literature outcomes”
When referring to problem based learning, Margie (Gardner, 2011) says “I think the biggest stumbling block comes from the fact that neither teachers, nor parents and often not even principals realise what the role of the TL is, so they are left out of planning, or are only brought into the picture once the whole project has been planned. “
Collaboration is another role of the teacher librarian that seems instrumental in implementing programs, but one of the main inhibiting factors appears to be the lack of understanding of the role of the teacher librarian. Purcell (2010) says that “library media specialists need to do a better job of clearly articulating their roles”, a view also held by Oberg (2006), Haycock (2007) and Hartzell (1997). Does the fact that Hartzell made this observation fourteen years ago mean that little has changed?
Haycock (2007) says that “collaboration is the single professional behavior of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”. If this is the case, then teacher librarians definitely need to ensure that the have highly effective collaboration skills.
Another role of the teacher librarian that is new to me since participating in ETL 401 is that of a website developer (Herring, 2010) and Web 2.0 platform user. A really interesting article by Viner et al. titled “MLC Libraries – a school library’s journey with students, staff and Web 2.0 technologies: blogs, wikis and e-Books – where are we going next?” reports on the introduction of Web 2.0 to their school.
They state that “The development of Web 2.0 technologies, such as wikis and blogs, and the integration of these into the curriculum, has led to a new form of interaction. They go on to say that “These technologies have enhanced relationships between colleagues, with students and assisted with promotion of resources, literature and information literacy program”.
This is fantastic and this is happening in Australia.
They also say that “Our school library team has used information communication technologies to improve student learning outcomes”. Improving learning outcomes are at the heart of education.
After having just discovered Web 2.0, I understand how important it is for teacher librarians to keep up with technology and changing roles. They can’t hide away in a safe cave where there is the threat of extinction.
But, here come Web 3.0. Follow Judy O’Connell’s link below for an excellent introduction to Web 3.0.