Topic 2: The Role of the TL

TOPIC TWO – The role of the teacher librarian

1) Activity – TL role statement at my school – there is no TL role at my school. In fact, the principal has no clear idea of what the TL does or what he would like them to do. The TL herself has her views, but they do clash with the Principal’s ideas. For anyone to perform successfully at their job, they need a role description or Position description.  I love the article by Harvey from the 2009 Library Connection Magazine


2) Activity: Compare and contrast the views of Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza. How should TL’s prioritise their roles? Are there other roles the TL plays? How do Lamb’s views on the TL role compare and contrast with those of Herring and Purcell? What existing tasks/roles do you think you could give up to be as proactive as Lamb & Valenza?

My summary of Lamb’s article:

Lamb:  Media Specialists PALETTE: People, Administration, Learning, Electronic Information, Technology, Teaching & Environments

  1. People: know how to communicate, collaborate and cooperate with people using social and collaborative tools such as email, IM,  forums, social networks etc Audience is students, teachers support staff, student assistants, administrators, board members, parents, volunteers, community members, public libraries, vendors, govt etc; ‘model & promote the joy of learning’. Need to see the ‘big picture’. Build influence by developing relationships with teachers. Must be an instructional partner
  2. Administration: collection development, programs, production, operations, HR & advocacy,  – facilitate information & technology access
  3. Learning:  – need to know how to learn and to understand learners, must acquire new knowledge, update skills & adjust attitudes. AASL (2009) ‘libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.
  4. Citizenship – 3 primary areas; life & career skills; learning & innovation skills; info, media & tech skills – all 3 directly tied to library goals’ program
  5. Electronic Info:  must provide access to info in many different formats. Students might know how to use the tech but still need ‘assistance in understanding how to approach, organise and apply this info & experience.’ Must know how to apply tech to solve problems. It’s not the tech but what we do with tools that impact learning. Productivity, Recording & Reading, Social & Participatory, Learning & Management
  6. Teaching:  should be a highly qualified teacher who understands the foundations of instruction and collaborates on the development and delivery of instruction.  How to teach children of different abilities, diverse cultural backgrounds etc.
  7. Environments: warm, welcoming safe, comfortable environment – positively influences use by teachers/students

My summary of Herrings article


  • Review of learning theories – Bloom’s taxonomy of Learning – identifies range of skills of increasing complexity that students can apply to different task.  – Highest level is ‘evaluation’.
  • Constructivist theories of learning – more common in schools, view knowledge not as external block of ideas but something constructed by individual learners. 
  • Effective teaching should include creation of supportive environment, challenges for students to produce quality work, development of students as active learners and good feedback (Schunk 2000).
  • ASLA 2004 para 1 – school libraries are integral part of goals of school.
  • Adoption of ASLA 2004 standards – goals all Australian TL’s should aspire to. A
  • Can be useful when advocating for more resources at school.
  • TL has multifaceted role: Teacher: Librarian: IS Mgr: IL Leader: Curriculum Leader: IS, Instructional Partner: Website Developer: Budget Mgr: Staff Mgr: Fiction/NF advocate – Fig 2.1 Herring
  • Learning for the Future – ASLA 2003 focus on Curriculum Leader, IS & IS Mgr.  
    • CL:     
      • Ensure IL outcomes are major school focus
      • Promote IL  development in school
      • Plan, teach, evaluate collaboratively with teachers to integrate info resources  and tech into student learning
      • Promote reading for understanding & enjoyment amongst students
  • IS
    • Effective retrieval of info
    • Interpret Info systems & tech in context of curriculum programs
    • Enable students to use learning resources within/outside school
    • Encourage students to use library for independent learning
  • IS Mgr:
    • Assess student and staff info needs & evaluate library collection
    • Develop collection mgmt policies
    • Manage library’s IS effectively
    • Provide stimulating and helpful environment that is a focal point and showcase for students learning achievements.
    • Lance et al 2005 – demonstrates effective TL can make a significant difference to student learning in school
    • Herring 2005 – embracing, exploiting and sharing new tech is way for TL to promote position  and contribution to school
    • IL  – developing IL students is key role of TL – educational as opposed to administrative
    • Discussion of IL & IL Models–see Topic 4 and Blog tasks/Assignments
    • Collection in school should focus on needs of school community – meet needs of users. , should be part of IS in which students/staff operate within/outside of school – Loertscher 1996.  Reflects schools priorities. Maintenance of collection including weeding.
    • Info service – understanding what staff/students need –anticipating needs.
    • School library website/intranet – needs to be well-designed to be well used & effective.  Can then be used for promotion of library and TL, provide links that community may use. Specific learning resources, IL guidelines.

My summary of Purcell’s article


  • Variety of roles, can use observation sheet to record activities and time spent on them
  • To be effective, need to focus on inquiry learning not admin jobs such as cataloguing & processing.
  • Roles: Leader, IS, Teacher, IP, Program Administrator
  • Leader :
    •  participate in daily functioning of school, work with teachers, parents, students to make decisions on purchasing of resources
    • Thorough knowledge of challenges facing professions
    • Promote profession
    • IS:
      • Assist others to acquire & evaluate info resources in all formats.
      • Strategies for finding info – not just find & record but locate, analyse, & process
      • All students should be IL
      • IP:
        • Collaborate with other school staff to provide best learning environment richly integrated with 21c skills.
        • Knowledge of curriculum & assignments/projects
        • PA:
          • Acquisition, storage, organisation, distribution, retrieval, maintenance, admin & evaluation of all materials & equipment.
          • Define your role!

My view of the three articles:

  • All 3 focus on educational aspect of TL role rather than administrative aspect.
  • Must be aware of IL practices & how to incorporate into curriculum
  • Must know & keep up to date with all technology
  • Lamb emphasises learning role more
  • Other roles – counsellor to students, someone for students to talk to, creating a safe place for students (this is very true of my school library where kids that get bullied come to get away from the bullies)
  • Trouble is must do admin so that library functions smoothly. How to allocate time between the activities is a dilemma, but every job does have its competing priorites.
  • What would I do – recruit more volunteers to use in library for processing of materials, maintaining collection, keeping library clean etc so can focus more on educational aspects
  • Work on developing relationships with other teachers to encourage use of library
  • Work on the principal to see if can employ a library tech to help with the admin type roles

3)  Activity: Principal Support: How do principals within your experience ‘stack up ‘against the readings? What can you do?

I have only being in one school and sadly the experience there with the Principal is not a positive one.  He does not or will not understand the role of the TL and/or the importance of the library….He would like to disperse the collection amongst classrooms/corridors and allow students to just take stuff and rely on their honesty to bring it back………..Given we have approx 1/3 of collection overdue at the moment, I cannot see how this would work. There is also an assumption that technology i.e. ipads/laptops are replacing the need for books. Tech is seen as helping all students but it does not take into account if a student is having trouble reading or locating info, they will still have this problem using technololgy. The accountant in me also comes out and says, hang on, you have invested x thousands of dollars in the library already, to just have it sitting there not being used, is so silly…. if it was a business, you would want to know why the ‘stock’ was not being turned over…so to speak…i could rave on more, but i won’t!!

What can I do? Try to seek out as many opportunities as possible to show the library and TL in a positive light – to emphasise the contribution made. Try to influence & collaborate with as many teachers as possible. To advertise our successes. Try to collect some statstics as well to show our usage and therefore hopefully our value to the school community

 4) How might a teacher librarian make his or her priorities both clear and palatable to the school community?

  • Design effective website/intranet – post them on here
  • Post them around the library for all to see
  • Explain, provide research that backs up priorities
  • Have meetings  with school community to explain/discuss
  • Provide evidence of library success (# of visits, increase in reading levels etc)

Reading List/References

Harvey, C. (2009). What should an Administrator expect a School Library Media Specialist to be?[ETL401 Module 2] Retrieved September 27, 2012 from Charles Sturt University website:

Hay, L. & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: The conversation begins (ETL401). Retrieved August 10, 2012, from Charles Sturt University website:;res=AEIPT;dn=183676

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

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. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

Valenza, J.  (2010). In the 21st century, what does a school librarian do?  Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved from


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