Some thoughts on the practice of leadership in the school library

Having a clear vision for a school is an integral part of effecting transformation in schools (Kotter, 2013).  This idea is just as relevant for the leadership of teacher librarians (TLs).  Formulating a vision for the school library in the 21st century creates a strong sense of purpose and firmly places the school library as an integral part of the school community.  A clear vision also serves to communicate and advocate for the position of the library within the school.   However, the vision that the school library adopts will need to be strongly aligned with vision of the school.  Without a shared vision between the school library and the school community of what schooling will look like in the 21st century, and the place of the library within the school, the role of TL’s is placed in a compromised position and the TL is placed in a weak position as a leader within the school.

The very skills needed by students in the 21st century are skills that effective TL leaders should possess themselves, namely: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, self-direction and global competence (Kay, 2011).  Teacher librarians as instructional leaders are uniquely equipped to demonstrate their knowledge of how to equip students with the skills they will need in the future.  Qualified TL’s should be able to demonstrate the very skills they are imbuing students with to teachers within the school.  TL’s should be leaders by collaborating with teachers and team teaching, and in so doing TL’s are instructing teachers on pedagogy and skills.  Qualified TL’s are strong ICT leaders, skilful navigators of the world of information and designers of creative problem solving and enquiry learning.   It is important that TL’s position themselves at the forefront of emerging pedagogy by seeking professional development so that they can sustain the position as instructional leaders.

It has been noted that the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum provide a means for the teacher librarian to exercise leadership as schools move towards providing students with skills for the 21st century (Luca, 2012).  TL’s can lead the way by demonstrating how the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum can be addressed.   It is perhaps obvious for teachers that TL’s can provide a means for schools to address literacy and ICT, two core capabilities, within the library.  However, it perhaps not as obvious to teachers how TL’s can address the personal and social capability of students.  TL’s can address this skill through showing how students can learn to manage an enquiry project, or how students address issues presented through social media, such as the importance of privacy (Luca, 2012). 

One of the challenges that TL leaders can address is that of innovation.  Innovators are leaders as they seek to do things in new ways.  TL’s are familiar with problem based learning and enquiry based learning.  These two methods of learning pave the way for innovation as learners seek the answers to challenging questions.   TL as leaders can use these methods themselves to innovate and lead educators.


Kay, K. (2011). Becoming a 21st century school or district, Step 1: Adopt your Vision. In Edutopia. Retrieved from:

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change . Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved August 8, 2013, from

Luca, J. (2012).  Australian curriculum and the general capabilities – the role of the teacher librarian.  In Lucacept – intercepting the Web.  Retrieved from:


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