Whilst there is no formal teacher librarian (TL) role statement at my school, expectations for the role are communicated by the Principal and Acting Principals. Their assumptions seem to be based on what they have evidenced in other schools, or what they think a TL should do. Unfortunately this does not provide a clear model, so I was intrigued to read The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Australian School Library Association’s Standards for Professional Excellence (ALIA) (2004). There are certainly a number of areas here that I need to address.
Thinking about what I’m achieving now…there is a strong emphasis on creating students who are life-long learners. It is clearly understood that the teaching of specific critical literacy skills in information literacy is the specialised area of the TL. That is not to say that classroom teachers do not provide instruction in this area but the TL is more typically able to contribute to student outcomes by encouraging and enabling students to become critically literate users and transformers of traditional and digital media because of their access to these sources.
Knowledge of learning and teaching standards are relevant for all teachers in my school. The only variation for TL’s is greater emphasis placed on the integration of the information literacy program with the classroom program. This can be difficult as Library is one aspect of the Relief from Face to Face (RFF) Program. It is therefore essential that the TL is proactive in ensuring an integrated program is achieved. The TL, through collaboration with classroom teachers identifies the opportunities for information literacy skills to create deeper understanding of content areas and targets these to the information ‘needs, skills and interest of the learner’ (ASLA, 2004). As TL, providing appropriate resources to classroom teachers, ensuring that a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds are reflected in the resources provided to meet curriculum needs and being proactive in identifying where parts of the collection lack is essential. As the new National Curriculum is rolled out in 2013, the impetus for a refocus on Asia Pacific literature and texts will need consideration and planning to meet the needs of the curriculum.
Knowledge of curriculum has already been mentioned here and my school has been very proactive in identifying quality literature to support the new framework. This curriculum matching will be an ongoing process, especially once scopes and sequences are established. However, it was only this year that students received a grade for effort during Library and this demonstrates the lack of formality in assessment processes in information literacy. That is not to say there is no clear student outcome measures or assessment processes and procedures, just that this element of a students’ learning is not seen as separate for reporting to parents.
Knowledge of library and information management standards are prescribed by the state procedures for operating each of the library systems supporting the management of the collection. As the relatively new TL at my school I am still learning these but am supported by a very capable and ever-patient Library Assistant. Just this week we were reviewing the process for downloading SCIS records and uploading them to our state-based database. As we referred to the Procedures there was a number that had been crossed out but not replaced. This made it quite apparent that a systematic review process should be part of the TL administration practise. I must get right on to that!
An information-rich learning environment is certainly encouraged in my Library. The TL is expected to be proactive in resourcing the curriculum. In the past this has been reactive to classroom teacher needs and instructions.
Since becoming the TL, I would like to think that our Library has become far more proactive in meeting teachers needs, providing them with not only directions to find resources themselves but also predicting their requirements, supplying them to Stage Coordinators at the beginning of the Term, developing electronic resource sets for specific teachers and collaborating closely to identify ways to improve borrowing by specific students. Specific ICT activities for the IWB for teachers to use in the classroom are also promoted.
The TL is also expected to foster the type of environment and learning community suggested by the Standards by promoting Literacy and Library activities such as Book Week and National Simultaneous Storytime. Some of the other Libraries that I have worked at have also included extended Library hours, opening every morning from 8:30am and during every lunch but resourcing these extensions requires flexible thinking about how this can be achieved without burning out the TL or Librarian Assistant. It could be that greater use of Parent Volunteers and Library Monitors would enable extended hours and therefore, access.
The Library and Information Services Management Standards identified in the literature are met by following current Department of Education and Communities Policies and Procedures for Library Management (DEC). Variation exists, however, in being able to adequately resource the Library collection. With a limited budget the TL must be strategic about the types of texts and media purchased, the timing of purchases and the breadth and depth of the collection in being able to meet not only Literacy needs, but also Numeracy foci. As comprehension and vocabulary has been a major curriculum and professional development focus at my school, resourcing numeracy of the past two years has been somewhat neglected. I presume that foci are cyclical and when Numeracy or some other area of the curriculum gains favour there will be an impetus to update resources in this area.
As the current TL there are a few very important standards that I can see I need to address. Leadership and mentoring is one of these. Reflecting on my current practise, it is evident that I need to organise time to share my knowledge of information literacy skills and Web 2.0 tools with my colleagues and connect with other TL’s to create a professional community and learn from them as well. Undertaking the Master of Education program goes some of the way to achieving a wider professional network and I have already started using the research undertaken for this course to inform my management of the Library and teaching information literacy.