Critical reflection on leadership role of a teacher librarian

Reflecting on my learning regarding the leadership capacity of the teacher librarian (TL) I have come to realise that my earlier understanding of what leadership entailed was very naïve.  In my first blog post in this subject (Carr, 2013a) I wrote about the importance of having a vision to create purpose and to advocate for the library’s position within the school, but I never realised how difficult it is to create a realistic vision that can be measured and acted upon.  I am also amazed at the diverse set of skills that a TL needs to develop in order to be effective advocate for library programs.  This is my first year of working as a TL and I still struggle to explain to my friends all that my job entails.  Now I can add the role of strategic planner and change agent to the list of capabilities required.

What does sit comfortably with me is the idea of leading from the middle, being a transformative leader and not needing an authoritative title to make a real difference to the education of teachers and students.  In a forum post on leadership for learning (Carr, 2013b) I commented on how we use a protocol called LAST at my school for professional development whereby we examine students work and consider how this work is evidence of thinking in the classroom.  Essentially the teacher presenting the work is given valuable feedback about the activity through the evidence of the students’ work, but the protocol protects the presenting teacher from personal criticism.  It struck me that the protocol is a form of professional development which places all the teachers in a leadership position, not least the presenting teacher who has offered to share her work.  It seems that most forms of collaboration involve leadership as the parties are united by a common purpose and help each other obtain a goal.  If we couch collaboration in terms of leading each other then it becomes something worthier than merely working together for a common goal.  This consideration also lead me to thinking about the unique perspective that each person brings to the table and it is a reminder too that acknowledging everyone’s skills is important for effective collaboration (Carr, 2013c).

Watching and listening to Sinek’s TED talk has made me think about what really motivates me to be teacher librarian leader.  My motivation has certainly changed since I started this subject as I feel more empowered to be a leader now that I know that I can lead from the middle and make change happen.  What am I really motivated to change?  At the moment I am really motivated to alert teachers and students to the dangers and joys of our digital age.  I am concerned that students are not aware of the digital footprint they create or the damage they do to themselves and others through the inappropriate use of social media.  This is what is really firing me up in the morning and motivating me to make sure that our library plays a key role in educating students to become great digital citizens.  I as teacher librarian I feel empowered to make this happen.  I am also particularly motivated to alert many of my work colleagues to the joys and possibilities of social media, so many of them do not know enough because they are not digital natives and seem to lack the confidence to truly engage on Web 2.0 platforms.  And I am concerned that this lack of knowledge might create a divide between them and their students in the future.

I am happy to come to the realisation now, that making an impact in the education of digital literacy through creating innovative library programs and empowering others through collaborative action, are the actions of leadership from the middle.

Carr, M. (2013a)  Some thoughts on the practice of leadership in the library.  In Learning Landscape, Reflections of a Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from

Carr,M (2013b)  Module 3 Leadership for learning. [online forum comment] Retrieved from:

Carr, M. (2013c) Teacher librarian leadership and collaboration.  In Learning Landscape, Reflections of a Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from

Sinek, S. (2009). How great leaders inspire action. In TED Ideas Worth Spreading. Retrieved from


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