After reading the varied opinions on the role of the teacher librarian in the twenty first century, I believe my role will be incorporating “building an effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners” as stated in the document, Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (2004), with Lamb’s “teacher, leader, and advocate for reading, inquiry, and learning, who is highly tech-savvy” (Lamb, A. (2011). This will be an effective role because it combines both “curriculum knowledge and pedagogy” with “library and information management knowledge and skills” acknowledged as valued essential qualifications by the Standards document (2004) for all teacher librarians.
These expectations are realistic as they are similar to those found from around the world, especially in the USA where teacher librarians are called Media Specialists and expected to be more than just library staff checking out books to borrowers, but as a “teacher, instructional partner, information specialist and program leader” qualified “to teach students how to select, evaluate and use information efficiently, effectively and ethically” (The 21st Century Media Centre Program, n.d.).
I believe effective collaboration with all staff members is the key to the successful implementation of teacher librarian roles within all school communities, and Carl Hooper 11 a primary school teacher librarian noted in the October 2009 issue of Library Media Connection, that a teacher librarian’s role was as a “teacher and collaborator, leader in professional learning and technology use, and innovator”. A principal’s support can be integral to the development of a strong media rich resource centre designed to inform, instruct and encourage a student’s independent learning, and Heidi Kast principal of Waldon Middle School, Michigan USA, expects her media specialist “to partner with my teachers to develop and implement inquiry based research projects” and “teach critical skills” when researching and reading (The 21st Century Media Centre Program, (nd.)). Unfortunately, some principals leave the full responsibility for the operation of the school library to their librarian staff resulting in unsatisfactory or unrealistic outcomes for all, but generally from my experience, most principals are aware of the changing demands, expectations and responsibilities of teacher librarians and are formulating collaborative plans to adjust to these changes resulting in benefits for the whole school community.
One strategy that has successfully worked in my school has seen each classroom teacher and older students take responsibility for the borrowing and returning of their own reading books and media resources, thereby allowing the teacher librarian valuable time to instruct or assist students with research projects or accessing resources. The students have happily embraced the responsibility for their own borrowing resulting in increased peer cooperative skills and independence, rather than teacher reliance. The teacher librarian is perceived as a media facilitator rather than someone who organises the borrowing of reading books.
A second strategy is organising a professional development involving all staff (including the principal) where the teacher librarian facilitates a media or information technology session on accessing different resources online or within the library, or collaborating with staff on what specific resources they will be requiring for future projects and the availability and financial viability of obtaining these resources. The teacher librarian is recognised and acknowledged as an integral part of the curricular selection process.
Australian School Library Association. (2004). “Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians” Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Harvey, C. A.11. HANDS on HANDOUT. What should an Administrator expect as School Media Specialist to be? Library Media Connection (October 2009).
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.) DOI: 10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3
The 21st Century Media Center Program (n.d.) Michigan Association for Media in Education. YouTube video available from http://www.mimame.org