At the beginning of this subject I was a Science and Agricultural Studies teacher who returned from maternity leave to be thrust into the Teacher Librarian (TL) world. I was naïve about the TL role in the school and was concerned that I would not be respected or find the role fulfilling. The Principal encouraged me to complete my library qualifications and I chose the Masters of Education in Librarianship as it seemed the most appropriate for my purpose.
The most critical learning in my development as a TL has been: the scope of the role of the TL, information literacy, guided inquiry models, collaboration and time management. Although the other components of the course were also valuable these were most pertinent to my developmental journey.
After my initial concern that the TL role was not going to be rewarding enough I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and depth of the role as expressed by the authors of some of the course readings (Herring 2007, Purcell 2010 , Lamb 2011, Valenza 2010). The TL needs to be proactive in identifying the needs of staff and students, keeping up with new material; and staying abreast of new information literacy trends is paramount (Herring 2007). The role is one of continuous reflection in order to improve and refine what we do. The Australian School Library Association standards set a benchmark for this reflection. My library is currently nowhere near achieving these standards however this is something that will provide the forward momentum that we need to develop ourselves and our program (Crowe, 2012a) and (Crowe, 2012b).
Information literacy is an area that we have to develop better in our school. Previously I would have considered information literacy as simply knowing how to find a book, find the information within a book and use it for an assignment, maybe with the correct bibliographic details. Kulthau, as quoted in Langford (1998) says “that to be literate was not only to recognize when information was required, but involved the ability to construct one’s own knowledge through a process that gave meaning and self interest to the notion of learning throughout a lifetime” (para 17) and Lindauer and Woodard (2004) add that it cannot be “contemplated in a vacuum; it is always viewed as part of a broader institutional context” (p.123). These two pieces of information formed my current view that information literacy must be taught in a holistic way and embedded in the curriculum not as a standalone program (Crowe 2012c).
A model of guided inquiry is a valuable vehicle for developing information literacy. The guided inquiry model also ensures that library skills are embedded in a valuable assessment requirement and therefore students see more value in learning them (Crowe 2012c). After initially feeling overwhelmed by the variety of complexity of some of the models, I found that I particularly liked the Big 6 model as a potential model to adopt in our school. I felt that it was better resourced than the others studied as well as having a wealth of research and 20 years of development (Crowe 2012d).
For the guided inquiry model to work effectively it is important for the TL to develop collaborative relationships with staff. These kinds of relationships do not develop without first gaining trust and respect. As discussed in my blog entry on collaboration this is not always easy and can meet resistance but forcing the relationship is not beneficial (Crowe 2012e). It is important to make time to network and build trust with teaching colleagues so that classroom sessions are comfortable and rewarding for everyone involved. As a result of this topic I have been attending as many of the Learning Area meetings as I can and intend to develop a social network including the different year level groups around the school in order to develop these relationships. We have also strengthened our communication with the staff through a weekly library newsletter that informs them about new resources, planned activities and invites them to participate in various events.
After digesting the depth of the role of the TL I know that managing the TL’s time will be vital. Managing your time into zones one, two and three as suggested by “Time Management for Teachers” (n.d.) will not only keep the majority of clients happy but will also ensure that your workload is productive but manageable and that the TL’s personal life and family are factored into the schedule (Crowe, 2012f).
Over the next few months my focus will be on continuing the development of relationships within the school community through networking and offering assistance in a proactive way, continuing to provide a welcoming and friendly environment for students and staff who visit the library or interact with me, developing an implementation plan for the adoption of an information literacy model, developing access to online library resources and communications and generally sharing what I have learned with my colleagues.
Crowe, T. (2012a, July 17th). [Online Forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=5896343&forum_id=ETL401_201260_W_D_Sub4_forum
Crowe, T. (2012b, July 15th). Four Readings on the Role of Librarians. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://taracrowe.edublogs.org/2012/07/15/four-readings-on-the-role-of-librarians/
Crowe, T. (2012c, September 4th). The Role of the TL in Practice with Regard to Assessing Information Literacy and Inquiry Learning. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://taracrowe.edublogs.org/2012/09/04/the-role-of-the-tl-in-practice-with-regard-to-assessing-information-literacy-and-inquiry-learning/
Crowe, T. (2012d, October 8th) Compare and Contrast Two Potential Information Literacy Models for Implementation. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://taracrowe.edublogs.org/2012/10/08/comparing-and-contrasting-two-potential-information-literacy-models-for-implementation/
Crowe, T. (2012e, September 25th). Collaborations. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://taracrowe.edublogs.org/2012/09/25/collaboration/
Crowe, T. (2012f, September 26th) [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=6033271&forum_id=ETL401_201260_W_D_Sub9_forum
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher Librarians in 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. July/August. 55(4). pp.27-36
Langford,L. (1998) Information Literacy: A Clarification. School Libraries Worldwide, 4 (1), 59-72
Lindauer, B., Arp, L., & Woodard, B. S. (2004). The Three Arenas of Information Literacy Assessment. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 44(2), 122-129. (Permalink): http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=16263036&site=ehost-live
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. November/December (pp. 30 -33)
Time Management For Teachers – How to Manage Your Workload . (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.time-management-success.com/time-management-for-teachers.html
Valenza, J. (2010, December 3rd) [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/