The Role of the Teacher Librarian (Library Media Specialist)

It was announced yesterday that I was the Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2012 What an incredible honour and privilege! I have been inundated with congratulatory emails and social networking messages from family, friends and colleagues – many of whom  know what the role of Teacher Librarian entails.

It has been interesting to hear the reactions from many who do not know what a Teacher Librarian does in the day-to-day life of the school library. A relative of mine jokingly said to my daughter: “So what did she do to win this award… invent a new Dewey Decimal System or a new way of filing?” … I want to thank my two Cert III qualified Library Assistants who make it possible for me to do much less of the “book” work behind the scenes (shelving, cataloguing, covering) and a lot more of the specialized teaching role that is that of Teacher Librarian!

The role of Teacher Librarian means
• Working with and for the whole school community – not just a few classes, but all students, teachers and administrators and even parents and grandparents
• Selecting and providing resources for all curriculum taught in the school – not just books both physical and digital but also online links to sites and database access to authoritative works in journals, magazines and newspapers
• Determining how new technologies can be best incorporated into units of work to make the tasks more interesting and/or collaborative
• Assisting in the teaching of ICT skills across the curriculum – for both staff and students
• Promoting reading and literature – this is a constant, enjoyable, daily part of the job as literature is discussed with students and teachers looking for appropriate reading material. Events to promote reading need to be organised (We have Library Lover’s Day, Grandparents in the IRC, National Simultaneous Storytime, Book Week Activities and a Book Fair every year)
• Leading in introducing new pedagogical skills (Guided Inquiry has been introduced and is being used widely at Broughton and the Teacher Librarian teaches along side the class teacher to assist with supporting the process, information literacy skills and digital literacy skills)
• Having a voice on various collaborative school committees to discuss school policy and direction (eg IT Committee, Assessment Committee, Professional Learning Committee)
• Caring for students who use the library as a refuge from the playground and often develop new friendships in this environment
• Overseeing and assisting students in the library since it has become the school’s “lounge room” (where students relax together before school and at lunch, collaborate together over projects, play board games, read quietly or discuss books together)
• Display work for all classes and students K-12 in a prominent place for the whole community to share in their achievements

The list could go on. Above all Teacher Librarians are passionate about what they do, about promoting life long learning for everyone – which means finding new ways of teaching and learning and promoting older ‘tried and true’ methods, accessing new digital literacies but still using the best of the old, integrating learning and making it relevant to a student’s experience and ‘supporting’ all who enter our library doors!

At a time when the role of Teacher Librarian is so misunderstood and therefore many TLs (Library Media Specialists) are disappearing from schools under budget restraints, we need to ‘shout it out’ and make School Principals aware of the role – and the need for information specialists in every school.
The Dewey Decimal System barely comes into it ☺

Follett Challenge entries are a source of inspiration

The winning entries of this challenge have been published and focus on the work done in school libraries – a great source of ideas and also advocacy for the role of Teacher Librarians in school libraries everywhere.
In Australia, 2012 is the National Year of Reading and I know that in our library we will be working hard to promote literacy in all subject areas with a focus on integrating the library (IRC)and Teacher Librarian in teaching and learning activities across the school (K-12).
View the winning entries here: