Critical Reflection

It would be dishonest to begin this reflection on my journey in ETL401 without admitting my complete ignorance of the role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) prior to the learning encountered in this subject. I selected ETL401 as my (one and only) elective in my Undergraduate Bachelor of Education (Primary) with limited and shallow ideas about what the role of the TL encompassed. My knowledge of what constituted a TL’s role was largely based on my own experiences long ago in Primary School, together with minimal observations in schools on practicums. Ashamedly, I confess that my perception was, for the most part, in keeping with Purcell’s (2010) findings, in that I believed the most important part of the TL’s role was to return, borrow and read books. In saying this, I did not consider the role of the TL insignificant- I admired the ability of TLs to foster a love of reading and to create a colourful, literature-filled learning space. Disturbingly, these misconceptions I held, I found to be common. Fortunately, I can testify that for me, these ignorant, simplistic, preconceived notions were quickly eradicated through engagement in this subject, and replaced with the reality. In undertaking a critical and reflective synthesis on the change in my views of the role of a TL over the last 13 weeks, I have come to realise the radical transformation that occurred in me. So, you might ask, what do I now believe the role of the TL and the school library is? To synthesise such an abundance of discoveries and realisations into a short post is a challenge, but here it goes…  

 

My narrow and naïve perception of the role of the TL was quickly deemed shallow as I was exposed to all of the responsibilities of and challenges faced by TLs (Herring, 2007; Lamb, 2011; Purcell, 2010; Valenza, n.d.; Hope, Kajiwara, & Liu, 2001; Lowe, 2000; Hallam & Partridge, 2005), as discussed in my blog entry from March 23, 2013. The presentation of such a complex role was overwhelming. Thankfully, at this time, I was introduced to Australia’s current standards (Australian School Library Association, 2004), which clearly defined for me an effective TL and what they should encompass in their practice through twelve Standards of Professional Excellence. These are valuable goals to which I will aspire.

 

It was disconcerting to find that the shallow views I held about the role of the TL were not uncommon, and were held by others within the subject together with some beyond the subject. Many believe that libraries are basically storehouses of information, and that TLs are not leaders or educators, but rather service providers who respond to students’ requests when necessary, when actually, the truth is quite the opposite. In order to counteract this stereotypical view, to present the reality, and to break down the barriers of invisibility, I discovered that TLs must be visible leaders in their schools, striving to gain support from the school as they collaborate with teachers, principals and community members in relation to their role and the library, and also by utilising evidence-based practice, in order to document the difference that they make in learning (Todd, 2003), as discussed in blog from April 15, 2013. My ignorance about the role of the TL was made clear in this area of student learning, as I was stunned with undeniable evidence that the excellent TL plays a critical role in supporting student learning, and can have a significant impact on student learning outcomes (Hay, 2005; Hay, 2006; Haycock, 2007; Lonsdale, 2003).

 

Then, just when I would have never imagined the role of the TL could become any deeper than I had already discovered it was, Assignment 2 (Part A) made known to me that in fact, it was. Not only are TLs responsible for impacting student learning outcomes, they are also responsible for empowering students from all walks of life to become effective citizens of an increasingly technological society, and ultimately, to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals (Garner, 2006). Through the teaching of Information Literacy (IL) (using models such as Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) (1991; 2004; 2008) and the New South Wales Information Skills Process model (NSW DEC, 2007), students are inspired to become critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, practiced researchers, and appropriate users of information resources (Purcell, 2010). These skills learned are ones they will carry with them as they move from school to adulthood, to employment, to further education, vocational training and community members (O’Connell, 2012a; O’Connell, 2012b; Lowe, 2000). Can the role of the TL be any more important than this?

 

This is an overview of a myriad of areas in which my understanding of the role of the TL has been transformed during this subject.  In closing, my final words of ETL401- This subject has been of great benefit to me, not only as a future TL, but also a classroom teacher and a member of a school community. Although the learning curve was often steep (being a Master’s Level subject), the hike uphill was an invaluable experience, and I will strive to carry with me into my teaching the knowledge, skills and understandings gained.

 

References

Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved March 16, 2013, from Australian School Library Association: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Garner, S. D. (2006). High-Level Colloquium on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning. Alexandria, Egypt: United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

Hallam, G. C., & Partridge, H. L. (2005). Great expectations? Developing a profile of the 21st century library and information student: a Queensland University of Technology case study. Libraries – a voyage of discovery. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress (pp. 14-18). Oslo: 71st IFLA General Conference and Council.

Hay, L. (2005). Student learning through Australian school libraries Part 1: A statistical analysis of student perceptions . Synergy , 3 (2), 17-30.

Hay, L. (2006). Student learning through Australian school libraries Part 2: What students define and value as school library support. Synergy , 4 (2), 27-38.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 25-35.

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.

Hope, C. B., Kajiwara, S., & Liu, M. (2001). The Impact of the Internet. The Reference Librarian , 35 (74), 13-36.

Kuhlthau, C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user’s perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science , 42 (5), 361-371.

Kuhlthau, C. (2004). Learning as a process. In Seeking meaning : a process approach to library and information services (2nd ed., pp. 13-27). Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C., Heinström, J., & Todd, R. J. (2008). The ‘information search process’ revisited: is the model still useful? Information Research , 13 (4).

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning , 55 (4), 27-36.

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement: A review of the research. Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Lowe, C. A. (2000). The Role of the School Library Media Specialist in the 21st Century. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. Syracuse: ERIC.

NSW Department of Education and Training. (2007). Information skills in the school: engaging learners in constructing knowledge. Sydney, NSW: School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit.

O’Connell, J. (2012b). Learning without frontiers: School libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access , 26 (1), 4-7.

O’Connell, J. (2012a). Change has arrived at an iSchool library near you. In Information literacy beyond library 2.0 (pp. 215-228). London: Facet.

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), 30-33.

Todd, R. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. School Library Journal .

Valenza, J. (n.d.). Flickr. Retrieved March 17, 2013, from What Do TLs Teach?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78154370@N00/5761280491/sizes/l/in/photostream/

 

 

 

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The Importance of Collaboration and Overcoming Issues…

ALIA/ASLA’s (2004) Standard 2.2, ‘Learning and Teaching’, enforces that ‘Excellent TLs collaborate with teachers to plan and implement information literacy and literature programs that result in positive student learning outcomes’. This alone emphasises the importance of collaboration between the Teacher Librarian, the Principal, and Teachers in schools.

First and foremost, the TL does not work alone. Rather, according to ALIA/ASLA (2004), the most successful TLs are those who collaborate with teachers to plan, instruct and evaluate student learning in relation to information literacy and literature programs (Harvey, 2009), with the ultimate goal being to support learners’ needs (Hay, 2005). TLs need to be educated and trained in effective collaboration.

However, although collaboration is important, it should not become the focus at the expense of student learning. Rather, it should be viewed as a means to achieve learning goals (Cooper & Bray, 2011; Hay, 2005; Montiel-Overall, 2005). In fact, studies have shown that collaboration between classroom teachers and TLs is an effective method for improving student learning (Haycock, 2007). Whilst it is not simple, collaboration is recognised as the most influential factor in relation to student achievement (Haycock, 2007). Thus, collaboration is a vital component of the role of the TL.

Despite this overwhelming evidence that highlights the benefits of collaboration, it is not uncommon for TLs to experience difficulties when initiating collaborative practice in schools. To overcome this issue, I would suggest that TLs strive to gain support from their colleagues by:

  • Utilising evidence-based practice, in order to document the difference that they make in student learning achievements (Todd, 2003).
  • Presenting the concrete evidence which emphasises the benefits reaped through collaborative practice, such as the improvement of student learning outcomes, integrated learning experiences, and more efficient curriculum development, which more effectively meets the needs of the learners.

References

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved March 22, 2013 from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Cooper, O. P., & Bray, M. (2011). School library media specialist-teacher collaboration: Characteristics, challenges, opportunities. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning , 55 (4), 28-55.

Harvey, C. (2009). Hands on handout: What should an administrator expect a school library media specialist to be? Indiana: Library Media Connection.

Hay, L. (2005). Student learning through Australian school libraries Part 1: A statistical analysis of student perceptions . Synergy , 3 (2), 17-30.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 25-35.

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). A theoretical understanding of teacher and librarian collaboration (TLC). School Libraries Worldwide , 11 (2), 24-48.

Todd, R. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. School Library Journal .

Blog Task 3: The role of the TL in practice with regard to implementing a Guided Inquiry approach

As the name suggests, Guided Inquiry (GI) involves teacher librarians guiding, instructing and coaching students in how to learn to think for themselves, make good decisions and create and find meaning from multiple information sources (Kuhlthau, 2010). Given the increasingly complex technological society in which we live, the implementation of a GI approach to teaching and learning is highly warranted. In fact, the GI approach to teaching and learning is considered so valuable that the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) has adopted such an approach to teaching students, due to its capacity to ‘help students to construct meaning, think creatively and solve problems’ (ASLA, 2009). This blog will identify the process involved in GI learning, and then consider the implementation of GI learning in relation to the role of the Teacher Librarian (TL).

GI is carefully structured, and follows seven processes, namely;

  1. Initiation (in which students are exposed to an engaging idea, question or problem)
  2. Selection (in which studentsanalyse their existing knowledge about the topic, and identify what they need to know).
  3. Exploration (in which students develop questions, build their knowledge of the topic and analyse findings)
  4. Formulation (in which students develop questions and become more aware of their own perspectives)
  5. Collection (in which students assemble information that further develops their area of focus)
  6. Presentation (in which students share their research and findings with peers or the like)
  7. Assessment (in which critical and self-reflection occurs)

As students progress through these stages, the role of the TL is to support students and to provide resources (both digital and print).

Guided Inquiry Learning is highly suited to the very nature of school libraries, as information and learning centres responsible for promoting lifelong learning. For this reason, it can be extrapolated that the TL plays an important role in the implementation of GI learning. In practice, this requires collaboration, both with the school staff and also with the broader community (Haycock, 2007). In order to best support students’ learning through the GI process, the TL must work collaboratively with the students’ classroom teacher as topics are decided and lessons are planned.

Essentially, it is the role of the TL to implement GI learning in order to teach students the skills required to navigate and react to challenges in the ever-changing and expanding world in which we live.  GI is a learning tool with copious potential. If students are becoming lifelong learners through participation in GI learning, there is no argument against such a teaching and learning approach.

References

Australian School Library Association. (2009). Statement on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Retrieved from Australian School Library Association: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/guided.inquiry.curriculum.htm

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 25-35.

Kuhlthau, C. K. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide , 16 (1), 17-28.

Blog Task 2: The role of the TL in practice with regard to Principal Support

ALIA and ASLA (2004) define a teacher-librarian (TL) as one who holds recognised teaching qualifications together with qualifications in librarianship, and advocates effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners. The support of the school principal is central to such success in the school library, as they are the major decision-makers for prioritizing and allocating resources (Everhart, 2006; Farmer, 2007). In fact, Hartzell (2002) refers to the principal as ‘the key player’ (p.4) in library media programs that make a difference. Research has shown that although TLs recognise the importance of principal support to the success of their library, they often have low expectations of principal support, and rarely engage in the kind of activities that would increase their principals’ support and understanding (Oberg, 2006). Unfortunately, most school principals have little or no understanding of the role of the TL (Morris & Packard, 2007). This blog will provide suggestions as to what a TL can do to gain principal support.

How can TLs gain principal support?

With principals’ lack of understanding (or misunderstandings) of the role of the TL (Purcell, 2010), it is not surprising that not all school principals respect and support school library programs or TLs. Thus, for Teacher Librarians (TLs), gaining the respect and support of principals, administrators and other teachers in the school is a crucial challenge (Oberg, 2006).  Oberg (2006) suggests that TLs can do so in three key ways: by building their professional credibility, by communicating effectively with principals, and by working to advance school goals.

TLs, given their knowledge of the curriculum, library resources and information technologies (Farmer, 2007), must advocate their credibility as experts in teacher librarianship, as school leaders and as agents of change, possessing the same level of education as the other leaders in their schools. Furthermore, offering to provide staff development in relation to curriculum development, library resources and information technologies will promote principal support and the role of the TL in the school.

Additionally, in order to enhance their principals’ knowledge of the school library and the role of the TL, TLs must communicate effectively with their principals. Effective communication involves the clear explanation of goals. TLs also need to explicitly express their professional needs. However, Oberg (2006) carefully warns that the principal needs to view the TL as an alliance, not as someone with an endless list of demands and/or complaints.

Finally, it is suggested that TLs must work to advance school goals. To do so, the TL must share the principal’s worldview, but also guide their principals to see the strong relationship between their library program goals and school goals (Farmer, 2007; Hartzell, 2002). TLs must provide data on how their library programs are working towards the achievement of school goals, and therefore why they are worthy of support.

Building professional credibility, communicating effectively, and working towards the achievement of school goals will increase principals’ support of TLs and library programs. Essentially, principals and TLs need to have a common view of the potential of the school library program as one that extends beyond the library and into the teaching and learning of the whole school (Oberg, 2006). The success of any library program is dependent upon the support of the principal.

References

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved March 22, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Everhart, N. (2006). Principals’ evaluation of school librarians: a study of strategic and nonstrategic evidence-based approaches. School Libraries Worldwide , 12 (2), 38-51.

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 56-65.

Hartzell, G. (2002). What’s It Take? White House Conference on School Libraries.

Morris, B. J., & Packard, A. (2007). The principal’s support of classroom teacher-media specialist collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 36-55.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian , 33 (3), 13-18.

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), 30-33.

The Guided Inquiry Approach

ALIA and ASLA (2004) state that a teacher-librarian (TL) is one who advocates effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners. So, how can students become lifelong learners in a rapidly changing environment?

Kuhlthau (2010) advocates guided inquiry as a practical way of implementing an inquiry approach that addresses students’ 21st century learning needs, and promotes the development of lifelong learners. In summary, six key stages of learning are involved in the guided inquiry process:

  1. Initiation –Opening the inquiry
  2. Selection –Selectng the general topic
  3. Exploration –Exploring for background kinformation and ideas
  4. Formulation –Forming a focus
  5. Collection –Synthesising information about the focus
  6. Presentation –Organising information and ideas to share with others (Kuhlthau, 2010)

The guided inquiry process has many advantages. First and foremost, it fosters independent learners and thinkers, ultimately developing lifelong learners. Additionally, it is a manageable and practical way to address the learning needs of 21st century learners, and as confirmed by Sheerman & Breward (2011), it assists in the achievement of many syllabus outcomes and objectives.

The challenge for the teacher librarian is facilitation Guided Inquiry in a way that takes learning to a higher level, and facilitates the sharing of experiences, successes and obstacles along the way (of which there will be many) (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010). In practice, the Guided Inquiry approach requires much time and preparation. Additionally, it may take time and effort, together with explicit instruction, as students adapt to such a style of learning. Whilst the challenges of implementing a Guided Inquiry approach must be considered, it is evident that the advantages and benefits far exceed the challenges.

In the words of students themselves, in response to utilisation of the Guided Inquiry approach:

“It is a fantastic feeling when you have used knowledge through the process of Guided Inquiry to create your own practical ideas to be seen and have an impact upon the world”

(Sheerman & Breward, 2011, p. 5).

 

“It was honestly the most fulfilling piece of work I have ever completed”

(Sheerman & Breward, 2011, p. 5).

References

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved March 22, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Kuhlthau, C. C., & Maniotes, L. K. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st century learners. School Library Monthly , 26 (5), 18-21.

Kuhlthau, C. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly , 26 (5), 18-21.

Sheerman, A. L., & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire … iLearn … iCreate …iShare : Guided inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan , 30 (1), 4-5.

The role of the TL in curriculum development

What is an appropriate role for the teacher librarian in curriculum development?

it is vital that relevant ICTs and information resources are included in the curriculum (Twomey, 2007). Therefore, it is important to recognise that the TL has an important role in curriculum development, as they assist classroom teachers to integrate ICT skills into instruction and assessment (Twomey, 2007; Bonanno, 2011). This is inextricably linked with collaboration, as it requires TLs and classroom teachers to work together in the development of units and lessons including both ICT literacy and Key Learning Area curriculum outcomes. Lamb and Johnson (2010) suggest that in practice, this collaboration may be involved in discussing alternative approaches to assessment. For example, rather than using a traditional test, students might be asked to demonstrate understandings using ICTs. The TL is also valuable in curriculum development in that they are able to acquire resources for supporting students’ learning of specific Key Learning Areas. Whilst it is not simple, collaboration is recognised as the most influential factor in relation to student achievement (Haycock, 2007).

What benefits can a school obtain from the active involvement of the teacher librarian in curriculum development?

The integration of information literacy and ICTs into the curriculum has been shown to improve students’ mastery of both content and ICT skills (Lonsdale, 2003). It is undeniable that the excellent TL plays a critical role in supporting student learning, and can have a significant impact on student learning outcomes (Hay, 2005; Hay, 2006; Haycock, 2007; Lonsdale, 2003).

Should a principal expect that teachers would plan units of work with the teacher librarian?

When considering the benefits reaped with TL input into curriculum, it would be detrimental if a principal did not want the TL to collaborate with the teacher in the development of Units of Work.

How are students disadvantaged in schools that exclude the teacher librarian from curriculum development?

In order to become effective citizens of an increasingly technological society, students need to be empowered to become critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, practiced researchers, and appropriate users of information and digital resources (Purcell , 2010). TLs are the ones providing students with rich print and media experiences to ensure that they are being equipped with the skills that they need to succeed in this digital world, as they move from school to adulthood, to employment, to further education, vocational training and community participation (O’Connell, 2012a; Lowe, 2000; O’Connell, 2012b).

Without such learning, where does this leave our students?

References

Bonanno, K. (2011). Do school libraries make a difference? Incite , 32 (5), 5.

Hay, L. (2005). Student learning through Australian school libraries Part 1: A statistical analysis of student perceptions . Synergy , 3 (2), 17-30.

Hay, L. (2006). Student learning through Australian school libraries Part 2: What students define and value as school library support. Synergy , 4 (2), 27-38.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 25-35.

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement: A review of the research. Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Lowe, C. A. (2000). The Role of the School Library Media Specialist in the 21st Century. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. Syracuse: ERIC.

O’Connell, J. (2012b). Learning without frontiers: School libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access , 26 (1), 4-7.

O’Connell, J. (2012a). Change has arrived at an iSchool library near you. In Information literacy beyond library 2.0 (pp. 215-228). London: Facet.

Twomey, M. (2007). Empowering learners: how the teacher librarian, through enactment of the role, empowers learners to shape and enrich a changing world. Access , 21 (4), 33-39.

Presenting Palatable Priorities… How can a TL do it?

“There is an almost universal lack of appreciation of what a teacher librarian is, what a teacher librarian does and what a teacher librarian can provide. I guess to be brutally honest, part of the responsibility for that lack of knowledge has to fall on the teacher librarians as a group. What are you looking at doing as a group of educators to ensure that particularly other educators — and we have heard about problems with principals and so on — actually understand and appreciate the role of teacher librarians?”

(Dr Jensen, Melbourne, 29 April 2010, p. 8, as cited in Bonanno, 2010)

This is a confronting reality. For Teacher Librarians (TLs), gaining the respect and support of principals, administrators and other teachers in the school is a crucial challenge in the 21st century (Oberg, 2006). Countering misconceptions about the TL’s role is highly warranted, as many believe that libraries are basically storehouses of information, and that TLs are not leaders or educators, but rather service providers who respond to students’ requests when necessary. The truth is quite the opposite. The role of the TL is increasingly multi-faceted, and continues to expand. However, it is impossible for a TL to continually incorporate new elements to his/her role. Thus, priorities must be set. In order to counteract this stereotypical view, to present the reality, and to break down the barriers of invisibility, TLs must be visible leaders in their schools, striving to gain support from the school as they put forth their priorities. I propose two strategies by which TLs can make their priorities clear and palatable to the school and the broader community.

One practical means by which this can be done is through collaboration with teachers, principals and community members in relation to the priorities of the TL and the library. Haycock (2007) highlights the ample evidence that those who collaborate with TLs develop more positive views of the TLs role and gain a greater understanding of the importance of their role.

Another effective way a TL might make his or her priorities clear and palatable to the community, and become more recognised for their work, is through evidence-based practice. This is the process of carefully documenting how TLs make a difference in learning. In practice, this can be done by closely aligning assessments that to the classroom curriculum, and when positive results are achieved, bringing it to the attention of teaching colleagues and parents (Todd, 2003). To assist in the implementation of evidence-based practice, simple checklist strategies, rubrics, conferencing, journaling and portfolios can be used (ALA Editions, 1998, as cited in Todd, 2003)

References

Bonanno, K. (2010). Reflections 1: Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools. Access , 24 (3), 9-11.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 25-35.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian , 33 (3), 13-18.

Todd, R. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. School Library Journal .

What is the role of a teacher librarian?

Given all of the responsibilities and challenges that school librarians face, role clarification is needed (Purcell, 2010).
Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 3.39.42 PM

The Wordle I created (above) depicts just some of the roles of a teacher librarian as identified in this week’s readings (Valenza, n.d.; Herring, 2007; Lamb, 2011; Purcell, 2010; Australian School Library Association, 2004). It is clear from this Wordle that the role of a teacher librarian is vast and multi-faceted. This can be extremely overwhelming. Herring (2007), however, realistically states that no teacher librarian could possibly fulfill all of these responsibilities and challenges at the same time, and thus the most effective teacher librarians are those that priorities roles according to the current needs of their students, the staff with whom they work, and the parents in the school community.

Australia’s current standards (Australian School Library Association, 2004), related to the professional knowledge, skills and commitment of an effective teacher librarian are goals to which all teacher librarians should aspire.  Thankfully, the standards clearly define a teacher librarian, and explicitly state what an excellent teacher librarian should encompass in their practice, making it a valuable document to continually refer to and reflect on.

Principal’s Perceptions…

My experience (which is that of professional experience practicum only) has shown that for the most part, principals are in support of the role of the teacher librarian. For instance, at one school, the Principal chose to have the teacher librarian(s) present on their current library program for a series of weeks at the whole-staff meetings. In doing so, the librarians were aiming to achieve a whole-school approach to the teaching of reading, and both the Principal and the staff were generally enthusiastic about the presentations given.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in all schools. Differing perceptions between librarians, principals and teachers about the role of a teacher librarian can be significant issues in schools (Purcell, 2010). Hence the standards (Australian School Library Association, 2004) can be a very useful document for teacher librarians who want to influence their school Principals and management as they advocate a stronger role and respect for the school library and teacher librarians in the school. Herring (2007) states that the standards are also useful for teacher librarians in situations where the standards are not being considered within the school.

Ultimately, I feel that Valenza (n.d.) effectively summed up the role of the teacher librarian in stating that teacher librarians are to ensure ‘that learners are effective users and producers of ideas and information’, with all responsibilities and actions stemming from this notion.

References

Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved March 16, 2013 from Australian School Library Association: 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: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning , 55 (4), 27-36.

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), 30-33.

Valenza, J. (n.d.). Flickr. Retrieved March 17, 2013 from What Do TLs Teach?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78154370@N00/5761280491/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Blog Task 1: The role of the teacher librarian with the convergence of literacies in the 21st century

The nature of literacy has been a topic of debate over the past two decades, as now literacy is conceived as both more expansive and more complex than ever before, due to the influence of local and global social, cultural and technological change (Anstey & Bull, 2006). Because of the increasing availability and vastness of information in our contemporary, technological society (Frey, n.d.; Purcell, 2012), new literacies are emerging and changing rapidly. Thus, the concept of ‘literacy’ is being reconceptualised to embody the multiple forms of texts present in the 21st century. Freebody and Luke (2003) define being literate in the 21st century as ‘ the flexible and sustainable mastery of a repertoire of practices with the texts of traditional … and new communications technologies … via spoken, print and multimedia’ (p. 20). Such change in the definition of literacy presents significant implications (both exciting and challenging) for teacher librarians and their role in the 21st century. This blog explores the role of teacher librarians in catering for students of the digital era, and identifies the increasing need for teacher librarians in the 21st century.

Students have been born into a digital era that is significantly changing their literacy and information encounters and the ways in which they can learn (O’Connell, 2012). Because of this, teacher librarians now need to position themselves as leaders in new literacies. In fact, Lowe (2000) suggests that for the teacher librarian, the role of utmost importance is to help students to ‘achieve optimum use of information literacy’ (p. 31). That is, teacher librarians must ensure that students are being equipped with the skills that they need to thrive in the technology-rich information environment, as they move from school to adulthood, to employment, to further education, vocational training and community participation (O’Connell, 2012; Lowe, 2000). Furthermore, it is vital that teacher librarians equip children of the new digital age (Marsh, 2005; Carrington & Robinson, 2009) with the ability to mediate the convergence of literacies to ensure that students are prepared to participate in this global, networked information society (Asselin, 2005).

The impact of the ‘information renaissance’ (O’Connell, 2012, p. 218) on libraries and librarians has been transformational, and nowhere is this truer than in the teacher librarian’s role (Hope, Kajiwara, & Liu, 2001). It is unquestionable that the role of a teacher librarian is evolving with the social, cultural, political and technological changes and developments of the twenty-first century (Hallam & Partridge, 2005). Only a matter of days ago I was considering whether the teacher librarian was being made redundant in the face of increasingly accessible information. Already now, I am convinced that as technology becomes more prevalent and information more available, the need for teacher librarians is undeniable, and the role of the teacher librarian essential.

In summary, complex literacies demand complex processes and skills (Asselin, 2005). To take advantage of these new literacies to benefit student learning, teacher librarians need to become comfortable with the methods by which these innovative technologies are implemented for both classroom and home use. Thus, the ability to respond to change, to be flexible and adaptable are critical attributes for the teacher librarian as literacies unite in the 21st century (Hallam & Partridge, 2005).

References
Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Defining Multiliteracies. In Teaching and learning multiliteracies: Changing times, changing literacies (pp. 19-55). Delaware: International Reading Association.

Asselin, M. (2005). Teaching Information Skills in the Information Age: An Examination of Trends in the Middle Grades. School Libraries Worldwide , 11 (1), 17-36.

Carrington, V., & Robinson, M. (Eds.). (2009). Digital Literacies: Social Learning and Classroom Practices. UKLA, London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Freebody, P., & Luke, A. (2003). Literacy as engaging with new forms of life: The “four roles” model. In G. Bull, & M. Anstey (Eds.), The literacy lexicon (pp. 51-65). Frenchs Forest: Prentice Hall.

Frey, T. (n.d.). The Future of Libraries. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from DaVinci Institute: http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/

Hallam, G. C., & Partridge, H. L. (2005). Great expectations? Developing a profile of the 21st century library and information student: a Queensland University of Technology case study. Libraries – a voyage of discovery. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress (pp. 14-18). Oslo: 71st IFLA General Conference and Council.

Hope, C. B., Kajiwara, S., & Liu, M. (2001). The Impact of the Internet. The Reference Librarian , 35 (74), 13-36.
Lowe, C. A. (2000). The Role of the School Library Media Specialist in the 21st Century. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. Syracuse: ERIC.

Marsh, J. (2005). Children of the Digital Age. In J. Marsh (Ed.), Popular Culture, New Media and Digital Literacy in Early Childhood. Oxford: RoutledgeFalmer.

O’Connell, J. (2012). Change has arrived at an iSchool library near you. In Information literacy beyond library 2.0 (pp. 215-228). London: Facet.

Purcell, K. (2012). Libraries 2020: Imagining the library of the (not too distant) future. State University of New York Librarians Association Annual Conference. New York City: Pew Research Centre.

Contemplating the ‘digital shift’: Library databases

As I am in my fourth year of study in my undergraduate degree, I am quite familiar with the act of searching the library databases. Whilst it was overwhelming at first, I am thankful that CSU allows access to a myriad of journal databases, and that I was taught right from my first year of University how to use these databases effectively.

A tool that I was not familiar with, however, is the ability to create folders for organisation of searched items. This is something I wish I had known over the course of my degree! I know that in addition to this tool, there are certainly many other helpful tools I am yet to discover.

It is certainly convenient to be able to find current and relevant research whilst sitting in the comfort of my own home! It is interesting to consider the increasing accessibility of information we have today. I wonder if school libraries might reflect this ‘digital shift’ (Bomar, 2010, p. 72), and whether resources might become accessible for students in such a way in the near future… After all, ‘enabling students and teachers to develop skills necessary for this approach to life is at the heart of teaching information literacy’ (Bomar, 2010, p. 72).

References
Bomar, S. (2010). A School-Wide Instructional Framework for Evaluating Sources. Knowledge Quest , 38 (3), 72-75.