A critical reflection on how my view of the role of the teacher librarian has changed during this subject (ETL401)

In the first weeks of ETL401 Introduction to Teacher Librarianship we were asked to brainstorm and list what teachers do, what librarians do and what teacher librarians do. I had no difficulty after 21 years of teaching listing what a teacher does and the list was quite extensive however when it came to the teacher librarian I was a little bewildered. Beyond the obvious list of catalogue, shelve, resource and teach I had no real idea of what a teacher librarian (TL) did. Part of the reason for this is the fact that I have never been either a student or a teacher in a school that had a TL so my only experience has been of a librarian and the other part of the reason is that I have never really taken the time to find out what a TL actually does. I have been overwhelmed, intimidated, downright scared and excited as my study and readings have deepened my understanding of the role.

My own learning needs in relation to the knowledge required to fulfil the role of TL as media specialist have been daunting. I have always loved and been excited by information communication technologies and how they can enhance all areas of life but since having children I have not devoted the time I once did to keeping up with the latest developments and uses for technologies particularly in education. I posted on my blog, The Adventuring Librarian, about my excitement when learning how to access and use the Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) databases, “It has been an eye opening experience for me” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013a), and about library curation using Pinterest, “I can see the benefits of using a social media forum … as a curation tool” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013b). One of the challenges for me will be making the time not only to keep up with new technologies but to explore and learn them in order to explicitly teach the skills to others.

Beyond being a media specialist I have been intimidated by the incredibly large but essential role of TL as leader and advocate for the library in ensuring the continuation of the TL role through gaining the support of the principal and the use of evidence-based practice. Based on my own initial understandings of the role of a TL and further reading I can understand why many principals view the role of a TL as unimportant and easily expendable and I can see why TLs need to take the lead in making the principal an ally and helping them to see the importance of the role in the ‘big picture’ information literacy goals of the school. “They need to be strong, patient pioneers on a mission of meaningful change with their eyes firmly on the destination of a collaborative school environment” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013c). I can understand too why evidence-based practice is so vital and how it can be used in many ways not only to inform practice but “to educate and inform those in power in order to successfully advocate for the needs of the students and the school library” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013d).

Perhaps the component of the role of the TL that has excited and challenged me the most is that of the TL as developer of information literate students. Through my readings and research into information literacy (IL) I have come to realise the importance of these skills in a 21st century education and how they contribute to higher-order thinking  and develop life-long learning. In learning about the use of process models to assist in the instruction of IL skills I have reignited my passion for teaching and reaffirmed the reasons for incorporating these skills into the existing curriculum. “TLs are experts in embedding the skills of information literacy across the curriculum and teaching them explicitly through programs” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013e). I certainly feel far from an expert at the moment but I am hopeful and excited about a future where I can work collaboratively with teachers to make a difference to the information literacy skills of the students in my school.

In 10 short weeks (which feel a lot longer) I can now add to my initial list: media specialist, curator, advocate, leader, evidence-based practitioner, developer of information literate students, collaborator and I hope life-long learner. I look forward to the continuing development of both this list and my knowledge and skills as I progress further in my studies.


The Adventuring Librarian. (2013a, March 13). Library databases [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/library-databases/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013b, March 18). Library curation using Pinterest [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/library-curation-using-pinterest/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013c, March 25). The role of the teacher-librarian in practice with regard to principal support [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-in-practice-with-regard-to-principal-support/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013d, April 28). The role of the teacher librarian with regard to evidence based practice [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-with-regard-to-evidence-based-practice/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013e, May 14). Information literacy is more than a set of skills [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/information-literacy-is-more-than-a-set-of-skills/


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