Why have a school library service?
The staff of the school information services team collaborate with teachers and school management to:
What is the role of a teacher librarian?
The role of the teacher librarian needs to be defined to the mutual satisfaction of the principal and the teacher librarian. It then needs to be discussed with, and understood by, the school community.
Various role statements exist in Australia and overseas which can be used as starting points. (See references in right hand column.)
How does a teacher librarian support classroom learning?
Teacher librarians collaborate in instructional design linking curriculum, process, skills and resources.
They are specialists in teaching information literacy and critical thinking skills and embedding these skills in resource based units of work.
Teacher librarians teach students and staff about plagiarism, referencing, cyber safety and ethical use of information.
TLs help students learn and help teachers teach
Why have a qualified teacher librarian?
A qualified teacher librarian will:
from Statement on Teacher Librarian Qualifications (ALIA/ASLA)
What does the 21st C school library look like?
To answer this question the School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit of the NSW Department of Education and Training commissioned a Report of the School libraries 21C online discussion by Lyn Hay and Ross Todd, 2010, which raises vital issues for consideration.
An excellent interview with library experts Doug Johnson and architect Rolf Erikson on Imagining the future of the school library will contribute to the vision. For some US examples of conversion of school libraries to "Learning Commons" see the June 2011 issue of Teacher Librarian.
Keep up with The Digital Shift in school libraries.
How can a school library service be evaluated?
Doug Johnson offers a plan in What Gets Measured Gets Done: The Importance of Evaluating Your Library Media Program The Book Report, Sept/Oct 2001.
The state of Colorado has a Power Libraries Program designed to help administrators and staff develop highly effective school library programs that will result in higher student achievement. With Competencies, rubrics for evaluation and videos, it assists principals and teacher librarians in improving their school library program.Excellent school library programs can be part of a whole school approach in building an information literate school community. Such a community unifies its ICT and library services to develop information, thinking and knowledge creation skills across the whole school. (Henri, Hay and Oberg, The School Library-Principal Relationship: Guidelines for Research and Practice, 2002). Such skills are incorporated in the National Curriculum General Capabilities and can be assessed with tools such as the self-assessment tool for evaluating highly accomplished teachers (AITSL).
Should teacher librarians be accountable?
Absolutely! Teacher librarians spend a large portion of a school's budget in supporting teaching and learning. Evidence should be collected to show that student literacy and learning outcomes improve as a result. Readings on Evidence Based Practice could start with Ross Todd (2002). Further readings are listed here. At the least, an annual report should be submitted to parents, principal and the school community. Here is an example from Discovery College, Hong Kong.
How important is the teacher librarian role to literacy?
TLs find the right book for the right kid at the right time. They can address reading reluctance, especially in boys. They find the right resources for special needs students, for the gifted and talented, the autistic. With teacher librarians, kids read more and literacy, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and spelling all improve. Read more on what TLs can do to support literacy and what the research says.
How important is the teacher librarian role to digital learning and teaching?
Each year in the US, Project Tomorrow conducts large surveys of K-12 teachers, students, administrators, parents, teacher librarians and technology coordinators. Their report (2011) found,
"The role of the school librarian is increasingly focused around the use of digital content in the classroom. Librarians or media specialists in many schools have the responsibility for identifying, evaluating and recommending digital resources to teachers. On one level, the school librarian is the “go-to” person to identify websites for classroom use (78 percent), create collections of resources for curriculum support (56 percent) and to find specific digital content, podcasts and videos to support classroom lessons (47 percent). However, librarians are also enabling and empowering teachers’ skills with digital content – answering questions about technology tools (85 percent), participating with teachers in professional learning communities (66 percent) and training teachers how to locate and evaluate digital content (33 percent). With the increased variety and depth of the digital resources available for classroom use, the librarian is emerging as a critical player in enabling the use of these tools in the classroom, taking on the twin roles of cheerleader and exploration sherpa. ....
Bottom line for Trend 3: Teachers’ adoption of digital content in the classroom is being empowered by their administrators’ vision for learning, and enabled by the new role of the school librarian or media specialist as a partner in the process of identifying and evaluating appropriate tools to more fully engage students in the learning process.... In many ways, librarians and administrators hold the keys for empowering and enabling this student vision."
Here is what one TL does to help integrate technology into the curriculum.
ICT or books?
Madelyn Travis discusses the place of school libraries in UK schools:
"Part of the problem, perhaps, is that outside of the education sector, mentioning the words “books”, “school” or “library” – let alone all of them in the same breath - causes people’s eyes to glaze over. It’s computers that are sexy - and certainly no one would wish to deny their immense value as an educational resource. Yet a single light bulb for an interactive white board costs some £350, while Booktrust’s School Book Spending Survey reveals that less than £10 per child per year was spent on books in nearly a third of UK primary schools in 2001-2002. The recommended figure is £53 a head. It’s likely that some headteachers are diverting their limited resources to computers because they’re getting the message that ICT is more important than books.
Certainly the impression received by researcher Steve Hurd of the Open University was of a tendency on the part of Ofsted inspectors to emphasise ICT at the expense of books, because, he believed, ‘the DfES has asked Ofsted to…ask schools to submit information on the currently favoured ICT spending, but not on books’. To put books and ICT into opposing corners is to ignore their potential if used together. Children who enjoy reading learn to think creatively, engage with ideas, encounter new worlds. Their regular exposure to correct spelling and grammar enables them to learn how to use language more easily. Think how much more effectively such students would be able to use the internet and how much someone without that grounding would miss out on. Of course new technology is important, but it’s obvious that books provide the foundations for a child’s educational future. Isn’t it?
Let’s look at the facts. Researchers at the Open University, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University found that spending £100 per primary school pupil on books has a greater impact on average test scores across English, maths and science than the same amount spent on ICT or staffing. A series of statewide studies in the United States found that students at schools with better funded school libraries achieve higher than average test scores regardless of socio-economic factors and education levels among adults in the community.
Similarly, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that reading for pleasure had a positive effect on academic achievement, with children from poorer backgrounds who enjoyed reading performing better in tests than those from more affluent homes who did not read for pleasure. Perhaps those who remain unmoved by the idea of reading for fun will be convinced by the proven positive impact of reading on children’s test results."
"So why not go further? Why not equip all school libraries with an adequate number of books and a qualified member of staff? Libraries are statutory in prisons. Why aren’t they in schools?Children of all ages need school libraries, and librarians, who will help them to discover the books they will treasure for years to come. Books allow children to experience the magic of words well used and to acquire the power that comes with being able to use them effectively. Enable a child to love reading and everything else will follow. "
(quoted with the author's permission)
Last but not least, what about TLs providing preparation/planning time?
If you have a whole school approach to the collaborative teaching of information literacy skills, the ideal is to have TLs and classroom teachers working together to design, implement and assess units of work/projects which integrate these skills with subject content within flexible scheduling. However, with administrative support, fixed schedules can be used to positively impact student achievement. Here is an article abstract, with some changes for the Australian context:
"The common belief among school librarians is that a flexibly scheduled school library program as opposed to a fixed schedule program is the best choice. After all, there are distinct advantages to the flexible program: students are served at the point of need, skills are not taught in isolation, and collaborative lessons are developed with classroom teachers. Yet many teacher librarians must adapt their programs to a fixed-schedule format. An effective school library program, within a fixed schedule, is still possible to develop with a committed teacher librarian and strong district level support. Such support must promote professional development aimed at designing teaching and learning experiences for students within the confines of a fixed schedule. Although fixed schedules are not the ideal, resourceful teacher librarians can optimize their instructional impact by making the most of communication and collaboration with their teaching colleagues through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). They can also maximize their impact by volunteering for leadership roles and by establishing strong relationships with teachers, administrators, students, parents, and other stakeholders. Through linking library lessons to content area curriculum goals, teacher librarians can build programs that help students not only meet but exceed content standards. Teacher librarians can be key players in creating engaged learners, thus, securing their role as curriculum leaders. It is important to consider that whether the schedule is fixed or flexible, the most effective school library programs are those with strong teacher librarians. These librarians advocate for their programs, foster positive professional relationships at both the school level and within the larger library community, and take the lead in learning initiatives. Most importantly, effective teacher librarians are those who can produce evidence that their programs, whether fixed or flexible, positively impact student achievement."
The full article, "Fixed Schedules Can Support 21st-Century Skills," by Gail Formanack and Laura Pietsch can be found in the School Library Monthly, v27 n6 pp8-10 Mar 2011. Available through your database subscription to Ebscohost and ERIC.
Policies, Guidelines and