Prior to commencing this subject, and the overall course Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) my views of the role of the TL were limited to say the least. Co-ordinating the books, recording requested documentary audio visual programs, and perhaps showing the new year 7 students how the library works at high school was the limit, I mean, all librarians do is check out books, right? (Purcell, 2010). These views did not come from lack of understanding, but from the example I have observed of libraries in operation in the many high schools I have taught in over my career to date, since 1986. Not only many schools, but in many roles, as my career has been as a relief teacher working both as a day-to-day substitute, and on long dedicated blocks over the range of faculties.
I had a feeling that there was more to it than that, but had not given it a great deal of thought. Now at the end of this first subject ETL401 I can say that my understanding of the role of the TL has broadened significantly.
To consider that the role of the teacher librarian is a multi-faceted one, with the possible roles being a teacher, librarian, information services manager, information literacy leader, curriculum leader, information specialist, instructional partner, website developer, budget manager, staff manager, fiction and non-fiction advocate, (Herring, 2007) I am both excited and daunted. Excited because of the opportunity the TL has to create the environment where the library will become an integral part of the school learning environment and not be perceived as a separate entity (Kay, 2013), and daunted because up to today, the perception has been that libraries have consisted of large collections of books and other materials (Frey, 1997) that people borrow, or sit quietly to read.
There are many concepts that I have been introduced to over the course of this subject. Guided enquiry, constructivist learning, information literacy, the need for Principal support, collaboration, and models which outline the information search process.
On the matter of constructivist and project based learning, I enjoyed the fact that I have used this approach as part of my teaching on many occasions without realising the principle of the concept, and now, with my deeper understanding of its value to student learning, will bring it to the fore of my teaching style as it is a strategy certain to turn traditional classrooms upside down. (Boss & Krauss, 2007).
To the matter of information literacy, the model designed by Kuhlthau where the learner progresses through stages of initiation, selection, exploration, formulation, collection, presentation and assessment (Kuhlthau, 2004) has been a revelation to me regarding the information search process. Indeed I have found myself on many occasions during this subject moving between selection, exploration and and formulation where confusion, frustration and doubt have been the dominant feelings. But the greatest benefit in understanding the process outlined by this model is that to recognise, and understand, at what point of the model a student is traveling on their search for information, and then being able to guide them towards success.
The understanding of the need of the TL to be a proactive collaborator with staff and the Principal has been an insight which, although I was aware should occur, has been highlighted as of utmost importance. Collaboration with staff regarding incorporation of the teaching skills of TL, and library facilities, into their teaching programs, and, collaboration with the Principal regarding having a regular presence in the library confirming the value of the facility as part of the school environment, which will give the students the confidence that the principal supports the library. (Kay, 2013).
Introduction to the Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (ALIA/ASLA, 2004) has encapsulated, for me, the depth and breadth of understanding I will need to acquire by the completion of the Masters of Education (teacher librarianship) degree. To fulfill the role to support and implement the vision of the my school community through advocating and building effective library services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners (ALIA/ASLA, 2004) will be my goal, and striving to prioritise when and where to place effort and time will be the skill.
I do not have all the skills needed to fulfill these criteria at the end of this one subject, however, the journey of understanding has commenced and advice is like snow– the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind (Samuel Taylor Coleridge). I look forward a further precipitation of knowledge and understanding.
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) & Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians in Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from http://asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/TLstandards.pdf
Boss, S. & Krauss, J. (2007). Reinventing Project-Based Learning. Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age. International Society for Technology in Education. (ISTE)
Coleridge, S. T. (2003) From a Presentation by Dr Ross Todd, WASLA Conference, 2003.
Frey, T. (1997). The Future of Libraries, Beginning the Great Transformation. Retrieved from http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers.the-future-of-libraries/
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In s. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (p. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Kay. G. (2013). Blog task #2. Role of the TL regarding Principal support. Retrieved from https://gregskay.wordpress.com
Kuhlthau, C. (2004). Information Search Process. Retrieved from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
Purcell. M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles os a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3) (p.30-33)