The role of the Teacher librarian is certainly diverse and the development of an effective role within a school is dependent on a number of factors, over which the teacher librarian has a variant amount of control. If implemented, Herring’s view (2007, p27) that teacher librarians should consider themselves being at a ‘centre of learning first and a centre of resources second’, would change the perception of many who only see teacher librarians as information specialists as opposed to the integral and greater role a teacher librarian might play within a school to promote life-long learning.
The onus is very much on the teacher librarian to develop the role of being a teaching partner and collaborator in learning programs. As noted by Lamb (2011, p 28) knowledge is not enough, ‘professionals must also acquire the skills, attitudes and dispositions’ to develop their practice. Indeed, teacher librarians are leaders who need to be highly skilled and motivated to achieve their goals. Whilst I am impressed with Valenza’s manifesto (Valenza, 2010), it does seem to require the energy of super-librarian! Teacher librarians need to consider what is most important and aim for realistic outcomes, making time for professional development in order to be at the forefront of educational research.
I am fortunate to be a school where teacher librarians are expected to place team-teaching as priority and many clerical roles are fulfilled by library technicians. However there is scope for teacher librarians to develop their relationships with teachers and provide more opportunity for collaborative learning. The principal at our school is strong advocate for the library and its role within the school. Two very effective ways that teacher librarians can change the perception of principals is through involvement and contribution to school initiatives and through effective communication practice (Oberg, 2006, p16).
Constructivist theories of education are paving the way for teacher librarians to advocate for their role as learning partners. However, it is up to teacher librarians to promote their role within schools.
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.
Oberg, D (2006) Developing the respect and support of school administrators In Teacher Librarian (pp 13-18).
Valenza, J (2010) A revised manifesto. In School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/