How should TLs prioritise the roles they play in the school?
- Information literacy teacher
- Technology specialist
- Curriculum design and instruction
- Collection management
- Leadership in the above roles
Are there other roles played by TLs?
Like all teachers, TLs are involved in supporting students emotionally, culturally, socially, behaviourally and physically. The library is often a place for students with social problems to gather and find like-minded people. The librarian can assist these students to establish a new network of friends. Giving students responsibility can lead to an increase in feelings of self-confidence and self-worth.
How do Lamb’s views on the TL’s role compare and contrast with those of Herring and Purcell?
Lamb’s (2011) description of the roles of the teacher librarian (media specialist) does not focus on students as lifelong learners as much as Herring’s (2007) or even Purcell’s (2010). Whilst Lamb’s (2011) promotion of virtual communication being helpful time-wise, with some colleagues it would not be as productive as face to face communication, especially when you’re forming relationships with people and developing staff. Lamb (2011), Herring (2007) and Purcell (2010) all advocate working collaboratively with all members of the school community in order to achieve outcomes in student learning, funding, program development, networking, professional development and so on, but only Lamb (2011) describes the importance of a welcoming, safe and comfortable environment.
In conclusion, all three authors state the importance of the TL as information specialist and technology expert. Herring (2007) focuses on students, community and lifelong learning, Purcell (2010) emphasises the leadership role within the school and the education community, and Lamb (2011) deems the leadership role and advocacy for reading as important.
What existing tasks/roles do you think you as a TL could give up in order to be as proactive as Lamb and Valenza want you to be?
This is the difficulty of the TL role: prioritising in order to try to fulfil the expectations of the professional and academic community, as well as one’s own. Existing roles that could be relinquished are: administrative tasks such as covering books, shelving, cataloguing … sleep, lunch and morning tea!!
I need to negotiate aspects of my role with the principal to create achievable goals and expectations, advocate for longer sessions with classes, improvements in technology, and a greater allocation of clerical time.
Do you see yourself fitting with the roles proposed by these authors?
I would like to see myself fitting in with the roles defined by these authors. But when? And how? Currently the way that RFF is established, the availability and access to (very slow) technology, being a primary school TL (whose students are too young to access social net-working sites), and minimal clerical assistance prevents me from achieving all the ‘non-negotiable aspects’ listed by Valenza (2010). There is one computer lab which is shared by all classes (26) and the librarian every week. Also, if one is to open the library before and after school hours, when do you collaborate with teachers? I realise that Valenza (2010) advocates also doing this using cloud as a strategy, but the fact is that most teachers need to collaborate face to face, at least in the beginning, or are reluctant to use Web 2.0 tools.
They are the excuses. Before I can fulfil all the roles outlined in Valenza (2010), Purcell (2010) and so on I must take stock of what technology there is, what it can do and how I can use it. Devise a library policy and plan and present it to the school leadership team and staff to discuss a change in culture and thinking about the library, the librarian and what can be offered or achieved by working collaboratively to improve student skills in information literacy and information technology. I will need to start small and aim high.
Would you change the order of the roles Purcell identifies?
Which came first: the chicken or the egg? The teacher or the leader?
A teacher librarian (TL) as leader has vision and makes things happen. A TL as leader instils confidence in all others that she knows what she wants to achieve, and how to get there, for example, through professional development of staff. However, a leader must first have the skills and knowledge in programming, curriculum development, teaching strategies, classroom management, behaviour theory, information literacy, technology and so on in order to be able to design the blueprint and then make the plans into reality.
Both hats must be worn for a TL to be successful. But if our primary aim is develop lifelong learning skills, then surely our role as a teacher is paramount to our success. Before we can develop teaching strategies and skills in others we must possess them first ourselves.
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. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3. Retrieved from: Charles Sturt University Library EbscoHost http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c64def89-3898-47f4-ac4e-87cf3f408c8e%40sessionmgr11&vid=2&hid=24
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. Retrieved from: Charles Sturt University Library EbscoHost http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f494ffe1-f549-45bb-91fa-246b7fbe1075%40sessionmgr4&vid=2&hid=24
Valenza, J (2010) Manifesto For 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/