Roles of Teacher Librarian
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... it's a teacher? No, wait, it's a librarian? It is BOTH. A teacher librarian is also a fully accredited teacher with a librarian degree.
Teacher librarians support and implement the vision of their school communities through advocating and building effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners. This role emphasizes activity in the classroom or other instructional environments where the librarian interacts directly with learners. The teacher employs best practices of teaching and learning for integrating information literacy into higher education. The teacher engages with learners, partners with faculty and administrators, and motivates learning with regard to the importance of information literacy in disciplinary, subject-based, and applied contexts. The teacher employs a learner-centered approach, encouraging learners to be agents in their own learning.
One article states the diverse role of a teacher-librarian. The role of the school and district teacher librarian is diverse. He or she is at once a teacher, an instructional partner, an information specialist, and a program administrator. (VanTuyle, V., & Watkins, S. 2012).
The teacher role can look different from school to school. Some teacher librarians might only be in the classroom once a week while others can have daily lessons with different classrooms. Librarians have conducted classroom instruction for well over a century, but only in the last 30 years has the focus of "librarian-as-teacher" evolved, thanks in part to the changes in academic curriculum, student body demographics, and expansion of information technology (Blackburn, 2014).
The ALA describes the teacher component as follows:
- Analyzes the needs of each teaching/learning setting, environment, or group and employs appropriate pedagogical techniques to meet those needs.
- Articulates goals and learning outcomes for information literacy instruction.
- Selects from a repertoire of pedagogies and techniques for diverse learners and learning contexts and experiments with innovative instructional techniques and tools.
- Creates a positive and interactive learning environment that recognizes the importance of context.
- Engages in assessment to ensure that instruction is meeting the defined learning outcomes.
- Demonstrates enthusiasm for teaching and learning and a commitment to professional development, lifelong-learning, and reflective practice.
VanTuyle, V., & Watkins, S. (2012). Teacher librarians as connectors to the school CEO. School Libraries Worldwide, 18(1), 111-122. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/teacher-librarians-as-connectors-school-ceo/docview/921332133/se-2?accountid=13247
Blackburn, H. (2014). Classroom management and the librarian. Education Libraries (Online), 37(1), 23-32. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/classroom-management-librarian/docview/1695233772/se-2?accountid=13247
The teacher librarian (TL) holds an important yet rarely understood role in the school community. A TL's primary role is that of an information specialist, trained in the teaching and integration of information literacy skills and inquiry skills across the curriculum, as well as being a library collection manager. School librarians teach students information literacy to help them navigate, evaluate, and use information. The need for information literacy is increasing as the amount of information and misinformation available on the Internet has increased (Spisak, 2020). Because TLs are curriculum specialists with a breadth of knowledge right across all curricula, they can go beyond teaching information literacy skills and even inquiry skills they can lead in inquiry learning and pedagogical change in this area (Sheerman, 2013)
What exactly does an information specialist do? They do plenty! Teachers constantly assign research starting at the elementary level. We all remember that Papier-mâché or diorama project we did as young students. Students were given a task to research an animal or a habitat and write about it. Most students now just use google for their research. If the teacher is wise, she will take her class to the school library for a lesson on information literacy. Starting research and choosing resources is something that has to be taught just like any other discipline.
Teacher Librarians as information specialists:
- provide access to information resources through efficient and well-guided systems for organizing, retrieving and circulating resources; (teaching to stay away from Google searches)
- provide training and assistance to students and staff in the effective use of these systems; (age appropriate databases for younger and older students)
- interpret information systems and technologies for students and teachers in the context of curriculum programs; (recognizing credible sources)
- provide specialist assistance to students using technology and information resources in and beyond the school and for independent research; (navigating databases, filters, and citations)
- provide specialist assistance to students using the school information service facility for independent reading, viewing and listening.
Teacher Librarians want students to be independent thinkers. The Library Standards perfectly reflect that with their framework. The standards focus is to; inquire, include, collaborate, curate, explore and engage.
Sheerman, A. (2013). Three in one: Teacher, information specialist, leader. Access, 27(2), 4-7. Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/three-one-teacher-information-specialist-leader/docview/1373486291/se-2?accountid=8459
Spisak, J. R. (2020). School librarian perceptions of the importance of information literacy. School Libraries Worldwide, 26(1), 151-164. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/school-librarian-perceptions-importance/docview/2426213636/se-2?accountid=13247
Teacher-librarians wear many hats when it comes to the various roles they play within a district. A role that is often assumed and expected is the role of technology leader; this is usually derived from the assumption that teacher-librarians are expert users of all technology that circulates within the library. However, their assumptions are correct because media and resources that are available in the library are always organically changing to better serve the needs of patrons; therefore, it is the responsibility of the teacher-librarian to ensure that they have ongoing continued professional development to ensure that they are able to serve the needs of 21st-century patrons.
One study stated that in order, “To be effective educators in the 21st century, teacher-librarians need to be familiar and comfortable with new technologies. Today's new technologies include Web 2.0 (and soon Web 3.0) which are the web-based tools that are readily available, often free, and used to communicate, collaborate and create” (Branch-Mueller, J., & DeGroot, J., 2011). This article proves that teacher-librarians need to be active users of technology because we are already actively using Web 3.0 applications to collaborate, communicate, and create information that can easily be shared with a targeted audience.
Teacher-librarian technology support comes in the form of digital literacy where the aim is to enable, encourage, and support patrons in the use of technology that allows them to find resources and information. In addition, technology support comes in three forms which are hardware, software, and applications. Common examples of these are assisting teachers to connect their wireless display adapters to their interactive display boards, pulling reports from digital literacy applications, and conducting a professional development session on research such as ProQuest and Google Search Operators. It is clear to see that the "21st century schools require that teacher librarians evolve as leaders in integrating technology to address the needs of a new generation of learners" (Johnston, 2012).
No matter what the technology, teacher-librarians are always there to serve patrons with their specific needs, or at the very least give them the resources and guidance to find the information they need.
Branch-Mueller, J., & DeGroot, J. (2011). The power of web 2.0: Teacher-librarians become school technology leaders. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(2), 25-40. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/power-web-2-0-teacher-librarians-become-school/docview/903778312/se-2?accountid=13247
Johnston, M. P. (2012). Connecting teacher librarians for technology integration leadership. School Libraries Worldwide, 18(1), 18-33. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/connecting-teacher-librarians-technology/docview/921332140/se-2?accountid=13247
Libraries offer a plethora of services that consistently need to be evaluated and organically modified to best serve the needs of patrons. For this reason, teacher-librarians play a key role in this process as Library Program Administrators. As Steven Yates states, “As program administrator, the school librarian ensures that all members of the learning community have access to resources that meet a variety of needs and interests” (Yates, 2011). This is correct and critical because a library needs to have services that are informational, educational, and entertaining to patrons.
As Audrey Church states, “As a program administrator, the school librarian leads by providing a stimulating learning environment both in the physical library space and virtually...The librarian leads as a program administrator” (Church, 2011). This statement makes it clear that teacher-librarians are program administrators because oversee the different services and learning environments. Common examples of these include makerspaces, book fairs, heritage celebrations, information and digital literacy lessons, resource curation, co-teaching, and collaboration.
With all of these offered services, it is essential that teacher-librarians consistently monitor their effectiveness to ensure that they are both meeting the needs of the patrons and the mission of the school. Ultimately the main goal of a teacher-librarian is to ensure that their library offers services that promote academic achievement and enable students to be active and contributing members of their society. This goal can only be accomplished by consistently evaluating the library programs and services which is an important task assigned to program administrators. This fact is proven when a scholarly journal titled Against the Flow: A Continuum for Evaluating and Revitalizing School Libraries states, “Through our study of exemplary school libraries, we created a continuum for evaluating school libraries...We believe the continuum described below can play an important evaluative function that could help school librarians and school library programs meet their potential, and support teaching and learning in our schools” (Lee, E, & Klinger, D., 2011). As it is clearly stated, proper evaluation of a school library supports teaching and learning in schools; nevertheless, proper evaluation is accomplished through effective Program Administration.
Church, A. P. (2011). School librarians as teacher leaders. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 77(3), 10-12. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/school-librarians-as-teacher-leaders/docview/905838313/se-2?accountid=13247
Lee, E. A., & Klinger, D. A. (2011). Against the flow: A continuum for evaluating and revitalizing school libraries. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(1), 24-36. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/against-flow-continuum-evaluating-revitalizing/docview/847666906/se-2?accountid=13247
Yates, S. D. (2011). The school librarian as program administrator: Just-in-time librarianship. Knowledge Quest, 39(5), 42-45. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/school-librarian-as-program-administrator-just/docview/869882895/se-2?accountid=13247