As a result of my engagement in readings, web forum discussions, research, discussions with members of the school library and other staff from the school I work at, formal and informal discourse with members of ETL401 and ETL501 classes, and completion of assessment tasks in both ETL401 and ETL501, my view of the role of the teacher librarian (TL) has changed. Some of the major things I discovered were the level of expertise in ICT required by the TL, the leadership required to complete the role, commitment to creating an information literate school community, the high level of collegiality with staff, students and parents, the depth in pedagogical understandings, the relationship with the Principal, and the understanding of information literacy.
My understanding of the role of TL was extremely limited at the start of this subject. This is because my involvement in the school library had been in coordinating a reading program and student research. My focus on the library and the role of TL was organising books and finding resources. It was not until Module Two "The Role of the Teacher Librarian" and the direction to the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2004) standards of excellence for TLs that I realised the depth to the profession (Fitzgerald, 2010). This was further developed by forum discussion and consolidated more recently in a post by Joyce Valenza (2010) in library magazine VOYA, "it is clear that the concept of modern teacher librarian practice is not clear".
In readings by Henri (2005), I realised the TL role required a great amount of collaboration and collegiality. My view of the TL role had been that they worked in some isolation, in a different office space and area of the school. As I am not always in the library at school I do not see the relationships TLs have with other staff and the work they do together. The role of the TL requires active collaboration and collegiality with all staff, administrators and school Principal. After discussion with the TL at my school, and readings by Oberg (2006) and Haycock (2005) I have learnt that the support needed from leadership is vital. When applying for future roles as a TL I will be aware of the Principal's support for the library, as this impacts on the depth of the TL role.
It was early in the subject that I was introduced to the 'Information Search Process' by Carol Kuhlthau (2004). This was in the form of a PowerPoint and an analogy of a river produced by Laycock and Fitzgerald (n.d.) I enjoyed the analogy and could relate this approach to my students; however I did not at this stage relate this process to my own learning journey and role as TL. This is because like Oberg and Henri (2005) suggest, teachers need to see the benefits of new tools before committing. Looking back now I can see the value of the process and utilising this resource may have assisted in owning, and understanding, the new information literacy skills I was developing. The role of the TL requires a deep understanding of pedagogical and information literacy knowledge, not only to teach, but to model. This is the part that I find most difficult; changing and implementing new ideas to my own practices. Due to time constraints and pressures to complete other jobs I don't take time to learn new ways and change old habits.
A significant realisation for someone who is not very ICT savvy has been the great amount of ICT knowledge the TL requires for the role. I did not understand the level of expertise expected in the role. This is because I had always focused on the library as a place for reading and borrowing books and gathering resources. The role of the TL requires being an expert in the ICT field "Comprehensively understand the role of information and communication technologies in lifelong learning" (ASLA, 2004). My learning in this area has been enormous and a critical part of my developing TL skills. I can now create a blog and a wiki and I have developed my search strategies and knowledge of search engines. The more I see the benefits of these new skills, and the more I read about, the less I am using Google to search for everything. Herring (2004) suggests "no single search engine should be used for all types of searches" (p.27).
Recommendations to join wikis, blogs and listservs, and ideas generated from discussion on forums and the Head Librarian at my school, has further contributed to my new understanding of the role of the TL. In the Topic Six Forum I mention that I aim to "start challenging thinking and provide new opportunities and change within the curriculum" and I hope that my understanding of the role of the TL and the new learning it has created will assist this development (Coffey, 2010).
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Australian School Library Association, (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher
librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm
Coffey, R. (2010, September 5). 'Management', (Online forum comment). Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201060_W_D/page/8237b4dd-9365-44b4-0005-acf4adb0f580
Fitzgerald, L. (2010). The Role of the Teacher Libarian (ETL401Module2.2).
Retrieved September, 2010, from Charles Sturt University website : http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201060_W_D
Haycock, K. (2005). 'Systems issues and the information literate school community', in J.Henri and M. Asselin (Eds.), The Information Literate School Community 2, pp. 177-186, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Henri, J. (2005). 'Understanding the information literate school community', in J.Henri and M.Asselin (Eds.), The Information Literate School Community 2, pp. 135-145, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Herring, J. (2004). 'The internet', in The internet and information skills a guide for teachers and school librarians, London: Facet Publishing, pp. 21-43.
Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Information Search Process. Retrieved from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
Laycock, D. & Fitzgerald, L. (n.d.). The Information Search Process: The Research River (Power Point slides). Retrieved September 2010, from Charles Sturt University Website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201060_W_D/page/32cf7837-3570-4c34-003a-cf763dbbea27
Oberg, D. (2006). 'Developing the respect and support of school administrators', in Teacher Librarian: The journal for school library professionals, 33 (3), 13-18. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/pqdweb?did=989412481&Fmt=6&clientId=20957&RQT=309&VName-RQD
Oberg, D., & Henri, J. (2005). 'The leadership role of a Principal in an information literate school community', in J.Henri and M.Asselin (Eds.) The Information Literate School Community 2, pp. 78-92, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Valenza, J. (2010). 'Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians', in VOYA Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.voya.com/2010/09/15/tag-team-tech-october-2010