Sunday, 2 October 2011

ETL401 Portfolio Task C

Task C:  A critical synthesis of your reflection on how your view of the role of the teacher librarian may have changed during this subject.  This should include examples captured from your personal blog and from participation in the ETL401 Forum (about 750 words)

My view on the role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) has changed in two main ways.  Firstly, in terms of the breadth of tasks they perform, and secondly, in terms of the perceived “change” in their role.  While the tools TLs use have changed, and are constantly changing, the central role of creating an environment for the whole school community to become effective and ethical users of information (Johnson, 2002, p.4) and technology to meet their academic and life-long needs has not.

Teacher librarians are multi-taskers.  As well as managing staff (if they are lucky), organizing the physical library space, creating booklists, cataloguing and issuing books and resources, conducting reference interviews to assist staff and students in research, providing technical support with the vast array of materials, acquiring materials, balancing budgets, providing usage data that ensures the ongoing accreditation of the entire school, TLs are, above all, professional researchers. (

TLs are proactive advocates of their profession and to do this, they must have credibility (Haycock, 2007, p.28) within the whole school.  In order to gain the support of the principal as well as the wider school community (Oberg, 2006, p. 13), TLs actively promote their profession by demonstrating their knowledge of new technology, providing on-going staff development and are committed to helping teachers incorporate learning resources into the curriculum (Purcell, 2010, p.32). TLs energetically build relationships by collaborating with teachers in designing authentic learning tasks, and helping teachers and students locate resources (Herring, 2007, p.32).  Therefore, TLs are effective communicators who, with the support of the principal, have the trust and credibility of the wider school community.

TLs are instructional partners. That is they empower teachers to be more creative through their knowledge of new teaching materials and technology available in their subject area (Lamb and Johnson, 2008, p. 2). By collaboratively helping teachers design tasks and assessments, and to locate appropriate resources, they enhance the development of information literacy within the curriculum (Herring, 2007, p. 32).  TLs also address the research needs of students by producing an appealing, easy to use and effective Library homepage, including the Library URL on all assignments, developing a school intranet, and by creating subject pathfinders to help direct both students and teachers in locating the best resources for their curricular needs (Johnson, 2006-7,Herring (2007 p.37).

The role of the TL is, and always was, dynamic, but they continue to help people to find information.  TLs implement information literacy in schools.  In the 1980’s called 'library skills', this focused solely on students’ use of the school library.  ‘Information skills' (also referred to as 'study skills') focused on a wider set of skills used by students who were doing curriculum-related assignments. These skills included planning (e.g., concept mapping), information retrieval (e.g., search strategy), evaluation of sources (mainly books), interpretation, note taking and assignment writing. The term 'information literacy skills' began to be used more in the late 1990s and is not seen merely in terms of skills, however. While there is no agreement as to what exactly constitutes information literacy in schools, there is agreement that students not only have to practice skills but also to think about how and when they might use information literacy skills. (Johnson, 2002, p. 21).

TLs make students and teachers aware of the tools available to help them find and make sense of the vast array of information available through the Web. They also ensure the ethical as well as safe use of these tools.  TLs inform the school community of the models available for web site evaluation (Kathy Schrock’s The 5 Ws of Web site Evaluation 2009), and of information seeking strategies such as Herring’s PLUS model (1996 and 2004), Eisenberg and Berkowitz’s Big6 model (2010) and Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (2004) model.  These information literacy models go beyond providing a set of skills for research, because they encourage effective, purposeful use as well as reflection and transfer of the skills to enable students to become competent but also responsible users of information.

TLs are educators above all.  As well as keeping up with current trends and new technological initiatives, modelling ICT such as interactive whiteboards in their teaching, (Herring, 2011, p.2) TLs continue to be responsible for the effective, safe and ethical use of information by the whole school community. TLs also encourage reading books for pleasure.

My view of the role of the TL has changed to a much deeper understanding of the breadth and diversity of the role as well as the great responsibility with which they are entrusted. However, I feel reassured that there is great enjoyment and satisfaction to be had from experiencing the “light-bulb moment” when students find what they were looking for and understand how to use it.  


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

Herring, J. (2011) Improving Students’ Web Use and Information Literacy

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed) Libraries in the Twentyfirst Century: Charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42)

Johnson, D. (2006-7) Demonstrating our impact: Putting number in Context Part 1, Media Matter column Leading and Learning (2)

Johnson, D. (2002). Challenges: The seven most critical challenges facing our profession, Teacher Librarian, 29(5), 21-24.Retrieved from Ebscohost 26/09/2011

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2008).  School library media specialist 2.0: a dynamic collaborator, teacher, and technologist in Teacher Librarian December Vol. 36 Issue 2 pp 74-78

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

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