As I currently work as a Teacher Librarian in a school I can say that the role I fulfill is partially like those outlined by Herring (2007), Lamb (2011) and Purcell (2010) but not to the technological extent of Valenza (2010).
I am involved in the introduction of new technology in the school and looked upon as a point of reference by staff in the instructional phase of introduction, I work with our curriculum coordinator to ascertain the resources required for teaching purposes within the school (not the leader as Herring (2007) and Purcell (2010) desire), I teach information literacy skills to my students in their weekly library lessons (desired by Purcell (2010), Lamb (2011) and Herring (2007) but not with the teacher present as this is release time for them. The library in my school is a center of all forms of information retrieval for staff and students as the library is an instructional hub (as desired by Herring (2007) with his dream of center of effective learning), for students and teachers to utilize out of hours for extra instructional situations as well as in lunch break, before and after school. We invite parents into our environment to share time with their children working on technology or to simply share reading times.
As to the realistic nature of these writers, I feel that at times my hands are tied to fulfill the roles suggested. Finance limits what we can achieve with new advances in technology, the fact that I am time release for teachers limits my ability to work collaboratively with teachers and as for the technological requirements suggested by Valenza (2010), I can only dream.
From my experience Principals have perceived the Teacher Librarian as the keeper of “teacher happiness”.
- Teacher Librarians have been the one to instigate the introduction of new technology and although not have to always lead from the front, still be a leader in the obtaining, demonstrating and distribution of new technology in the school.
- Teacher Librarians have been the one to assist in instigating new ideas into curriculum and then required to source out new resources to facilitate this introduction.
- Principals have required Teacher Librarians to assist in changing the attitudes of staff to adapt to new ideas and concepts to challenge their teaching so that advances can be made in bringing student learning into the 21st century.
In order to change perceptions of the principal’s perception of the role of a Teacher Librarian it would require as suggested by Hartzell (2002) that principals learn what libraries can offer and also as Oberg (2006) states the Teacher Librarian building their professional credibility by communicating with the principal to achieve school goals. Principals would need to take a closer look at what is happening in the library and commit to supporting the Teacher Librarian as Morris (2007) relates so that working with the Teacher Librarian in a collaborative manner is a priority and expected by staff. Regular meetings with staff may be scheduled to allow this collaborative process to occur. By allowing more flexible timetabling and not having the Teacher Librarian as the time release member of staff in the school may also assist this situation and perception of the Teacher Librarian role in schools.
Hartzell, G. N. (2002). What’s it take? Paper submitted to the Washington White House Conference of School Libraries, Washington D.C., United States of America. Retrieved from http://www.laurabushfoundation.com/Hartzell.pdf.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Eds.). Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Stuart University.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.
Morris, B.J. (2007). Principal support for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 23-24.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13.
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’s, J. (2010, December 3). Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/