Monday, 26 January 2015

ETL 507- Final Reflection Portfolio

I began my journey towards becoming a teacher librarian in 2011 as a means of diversifying my professional practice, despite never having worked in a school library before. Becoming a teacher librarian, I reasoned, would allow me to continue my love of teaching, but within a family-friendly framework. I would be able to engage, enthuse and guide students, and impart my love of reading and literacy. And surely the quiet sanctuary of the library would be a respite from the noisy and rambunctious classroom?

Fast forward to the present and I am so close to finishing my Masters of Education Teacher Librarian course. It has taken longer than I anticipated, and I’ve not yet really been able to apply all I’ve learnt throughout the course. Within the small confines of my classroom I have, but I’ve not yet worked in a school library and I believe I am one of the very few MEd TL students (there were none on my study tour) with no practical experience whatsoever, or who weren’t currently working in a school library. I certainly felt on the back foot for a lot of this course.

In this final, reflective blog post, I will provide a brief reflection of each subject that I undertook. Some of these reflections will be detailed, others will be brief and this will depend on what I personally gained from each subject. I will cover each subject in chronological order, and in so doing, will hope to show the journey of my learning from its very humble beginnings to where I’ve arrived now. 

ETL401- Teacher Librarianship

Throughout my course, I’ve had so many people cheekily throw Purcell’s words at me, “all librarians do is check out books, right?” (Purcell, 2008). It’s been with increasing pleasure and pride that I’ve been able to respond with facts and figures that leave them reeling a little. Facts like up to 9% of student achievement can be attributed to the school library (Lance, 2001 in Oberg, 2002), and that with up to 20% of students ignoring information they don’t understand, a TL is pivotal in overcoming tis information deficit (Herring and Tarter, 2007). This subject, for me, was the eye-opener I needed to land me smack bang into my learning and into the enormity of the role of the TL. 

The biggest learning experience for this subject, was developing my understanding of the importance of collaboration between school leadership and school librarians in order to achieve the best outcome for students. For this alchemy to happen, a couple of things need to be present. The school leaders need to be open to the potential of the school library and need to see the immense value it provides. The TL, in their role, MUST have high initiative, must seek this collaboration and must actively espouse the virtues and value of the library. Stereotypically, librarians are not known for their extroversion and active collaboration, so they may need to work hard to change this perception in order to be heard and valued by closed-minded Principals. Librarians need to be seen and heard within the school environment! As such, this must then be a symbiotic relationship of dynamic collaboration- the librarian and the leadership team must work together. 

Naively, prior to this course, I didn’t realise that it was primarily the role of the TL to teach students about information literacy- surely this was the role of the classroom teacher? I still believe it is primarily the role of the classroom teacher. However, most classroom teachers, and I include myself in this, would benefit immensely from working closely with a TL to help embed this explicitly within their existing practice. The biggest prohibiting factor, however, is time- where and how do classroom teachers fit this into an ever expanding curriculum, and secondly, do classroom teachers even know that TLs can offer this expertise? This comes down to the individual TL and their willingness and their initiative. Personally, through working recently with a TL, I am much more explicit in my teaching of critical thinking and literacy to my Year 7 and 8 students. I have found this practice time-consuming and slow, but ultimately rewarding. The students have found it challenging, and tiring- the close, analytical work is not something they are necessarily used to, but they too, have found it rewarding and I would hope they would carry these skills with them in their senior years of study. 

I was first introduced to the ALIA Teacher Librarian standards (ALIA, 2011) in this subject and I have used these consistently in my assignments as a set of explicit values and standards on which to “hang” my understanding of the role of a TL. I wonder, as I finish this course, and hopefully find work as a TL, how I will continue to use them in the real world.

ETL501- The information Environment
I’ve recently heard it said that “the internet is a playground and there’s no one on yard duty” (source unknown, 2014). This subject seems to sum this up perfectly. I had little understanding of the role of the TL in providing digital literacy information to students and to the school, and this subject helped to increase my understanding, however, in doing so, I also felt quite frustrated at times, by the slow paced nature of it and I questioned the need to be so thorough and deliberate in the searching for relevant resources. Perhaps, on reflection, this is how secondary students feel and act- often like bulls at a gate wanting to rush into their assignment and get it done, without giving the requisite thought and evaluation to the resources they are using for it. Indeed, O’Connell and Groom (2010) note the vastness of the internet and how it is impossible for students to search it thoroughly and in doing so it does not make them information literate. So, the role of the TL is to help provide students with a carefully selected and vetted set of resources they could use- most broadly in the library’s resource collection, and then, more specifically, in the pathfinders they create for the classroom teacher to assist their students with their assignments.

This subject highlighted again, the importance of collaboration with classroom teachers and the need for TLs to know the school curriculum intimately. It also emphasised how thorough TLs need to be and how much we can take the critical thinking and evaluation of the relevance of a resource or learning tool for granted, and therefore, how important it is that we explicitly teach this critical thinking to our students. The pathfinder that I created for this subject was time consuming and I don’t know how practical it would be for a TL to be able to create one for every assignment in every class in the school! This is where the explicit teaching of resource evaluation is crucial. Although, as Kuntz rightly notes, pathfinders are not a be-all and end all, but merely a strong starting point, a plan of action from which students can commence (Kuntz, 2003). 

ETL503- Resourcing the curriculum 
I did quite well in this subject, although I remember struggling with it at the time. I was not working in a school at the time (as I was on leave) and I felt very out of my depth as I did not have access to a collection policy from which to work. I did, however, appreciate the practical nature of the assignments- I do think I will be able to take my knowledge and apply it in a practical setting when I eventually get there.

It is imperative, and part of any good practice that the school library collection is consistently evaluated. In so doing, its strengths and weaknesses are highlighted. This allows the librarian to build the collection to best meet the needs of its users (Bishop, 2007) and so the collection remains relevant (Kennedy, 2006). An important part of this process is weeding. This was the first time I’d ever heard this expression (so limited was my experience). I’m yet to weed in person, but I understand that the process is pivotal and that TLs must be ruthless when evaluating resources. Clear and well-considered policies enable this process to happen efficiently. Clear policies also work to enhance the status of the librarian within the school environment. They demonstrate their professionalism and their commitment to providing the school with the best resources. Indeed, the clear policies can help increase their budget to allow them to develop their collections further.
This subject also accentuated the increasing complexities of a library collection within a school. As schools develop larger electronic and digital resource collections, the management and integration of these into their existing collection must be considered. Many issues may arise, such as access and ownership (subscriptions and renewals etc.), licensing, software and applications, the longevity of the resources and the equity of these resources (does the school provide the hardware or do they operate on a BYOD model?). If so, then is the software compatible with all hardware models? (Latham and Poe, 2008). These electronic items also need to be catalogued in such a way that they are accessible for all relevant patrons.

The most important thing I learnt is that the collection is a dynamic thing- it must continually change to meet the needs of its users. As such, the TL needs to know the curriculum, needs to know the needs of students and teachers and needs to be responsive to these needs in a timely manner.

ETL523- Digital Citizenship in Schools

Digital footprints are often spoken of in a negative way- Just what grubby mark are we leaving in cyber space? What I really enjoyed about this subject was how it got me to re-frame my perception of this. How it got me to think about the digital footprint I’m leaving behind and how I can cultivate this footprint to be a positive one.
I recall not enjoying the collaborative presentation of this work. Although the distance education coursework has been challenging in many aspects, I quite enjoyed the privacy it afforded- particularly as I was completing this course with others who were so much more experienced than I! I know that collaboration is good practice and I know that this is what will happen in the real world and I welcome that, however, sharing academic thought processes with others more experienced is daunting, even given the anonymity of the online environment.

In one assignment I investigated the role of Facebook within a school environment and investigated how it can be harnessed in a positive rather than a negative way. For the first time last year, I did actually use Facebook with my Year 12 students. I used it as an information dissemination point- to remind them of tasks and also as a discussion board. Whilst it was succesfful for reminders, it was less so for discussion. What I found, was that students were quite hesitant to engage in any real pedagogical discussion- they too, like me, were afraid of making mistakes and were not confident enough to try. Perhaps I had not established the space as safe enough, or perhaps it is the nature of these students. I would be hesitant to try this with students at younger year levels as I don’t think they have the maturity to operate as carefully in an online forum. 

This subject has highlighted the need for the TL to encourage the use of the digital environment within the school, but to do so within a strong, established framework that clearly adheres to legal, moral and social laws and norms and to make sure that everyone operating in this digital environment is aware of these and complies to them.

ETL402- Literature in Education
Braxton (2008) states that “literacy through literature was the prime responsibility of the teacher-librarian” and I think this subject really captured this notion. I undertook ETL402 after a year’s study leave, so I was probably ready to launch back into my studies. This was a subject that allowedme to combine my love of reading and teaching all in one! It was really exciting to gather hard data that supported what I’d believed all along; that using stories in the classroom, or, more simply, using children’s stories and literature, or fiction to teach content or non-fiction was good practice. Indeed, using literature in the classroom can offer students “close, reflective, analytic study…while meeting the expectations of the … curriculum” (Unsworth, 2006). Using books in a senior psychology classroom, I argued, didn’t have to be arduous or time-consuming (as time is of the essence in senior classes), but, with the help of a competent and proactive TL, classroom teachers could easily fit short books into their curriculum to help illustrate a concept. TLs can also help students with the experiential side of reading, as well as the technical aspect, again, enhancing their learning (Cart, 2007).
Perhaps most exciting is that I am taking my knowledge learnt in this subject, and in particular, in this assignment (The case for literary learning) and will  be presenting it at the annual CDES Psychology Teachers’ Conference on February 27, 2015 in workshop 26. The screenshot from the conference flier can be seen below. (

I really appreciated how this subject emphasised the role of reading for something other than pleasure and espoused that reading is essential for intellectual growth and development and for making sense of the world, particular within a curricular context.

EER500- Introduction to Educational Research

This subject complemented my background as a Psychology teacher quite nicely, however, I was initially unsure as to how it fit with the role of a Teacher Librarian. How, amongst all the other work of resourcing and collecting and managing and curriculum planning there was time left for research. However, the relevance of this subject became obvious on my student placement. Here was a public library gathering, analysing and using evidence collected through research to shape their future operations. Indeed, if TLs can provide evidence to best support their position, then they are more likely to get the full support of their leadership team, which will mean they will get the funding or support that they need. 

I chose to investigate the role of student leadership within Catholic schools- an area that I am interested in and which was particularly relevant for my position as Year 12 co-ordinator, but not as a TL! The assignments reinforced the notion of strong and pertinent research questions and that it is absolutely vital for the purpose of the research to be evident within these questions. If adequate time and due process is given to constructing strong research questions, then the following processes will be much simpler (Stone, 2002). Careful preparation and forward planning is the key.

ETL505- Describing Education Resources

This was a tough subject, and as it was described to me, a rite of passage for all TL students. Whilst it exhausted me, it was also exciting to be learning a new language and to be doing some of that close, analytical work that I demand of my students- no wonder they get so tired! The process of learning about metadata has helped me understand the need for a common language between information specialists. This common language means that they can do the work they are meant to do- help patrons access resources in the most expedient and efficient manner possible and that resources can be shared amongst agencies too. Even though a common language is present, there is still room for human error, and this was evident when one of our exercises on the assignment was incorrect. 

This subject increased my understanding of the Dewey Decimal system and of RDA hugely. Although most TLs are not required to do any cataloguing, the rationale behind cataloguing decisions is critical and helps with the organisation of resources within a school library.
 Here’s a Youtube clip of Bob the Alien. If only the DDC was that simple!
January 27, 2015. 

This course has been wonderful, challenging and complicated experience and it has certainly enriched my life and my classroom practice. I know that when I do get a job as a TL, I will be collaborative, I will show initiative and I will work to consistently promote the school library, its resources the rich knowledge that a TL can bring to the school community.
Here, this short clip brilliantly sums up what it means to me to be a TL. 

 Retrieved from:
January 27, 2015 

Reference List- Final portfolio
Australian Library and Information Association. (2013). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from:,  January 27, 2015. 

Bishop, K. (2007). Evaluation of the collection. In The collection program in schools : concepts, practices and information sources (4th ed.) (pp. 141-159). Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Braxton, B. (2008). The teacher-librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from:

Cart, M. (2007). The Teacher librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian, 34(3). Retrieved from:|A158682754&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w October 10, 2014. 

Herring, J. and Tarter, A. (2007). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, 23-27.
Kennedy, J. (2006). Collection Management: A concise introduction. Centre for Information Studies, Wagga Wagga, Australia.

Kuntz, K. (2003). Pathfinder: helping students find paths to information. Multimedia Schools, Information Today, Inc. Available from HighBeam Research:

Latham, B., & Poe, J. (2008). Evaluation and selection of new format materials : electronic resources. In J. R. Kennedy, L. Vardaman & G. B. McCabe (Eds.), Our new public, a changing clientele : bewildering issues or new challenges for managing libraries (pp. 257-265). Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited. 

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School Libraries in Canada. 22(2). Pp 10-13. 

O’Connell, J. & Groom, D. (2010). Connect, communicate, collaborate. ACER Press: Victoria.

Purcell, M. (2008). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection. 29 (3). Pp 30-33.

Stone, P. (2002). Deciding upon and refinining a research question. Palliative Medicine.16. P265-267. Retrieved 16th December, 2012.

Unsworth, L. (2006). E-Literature for Children: Enhancing Digital Literacy Learning. New York: Routledge. (ebook). p.122.

Monday, 13 October 2014

ETL 505 Reflections

Whilst the role of a librarian is rapidly changing in the 21st century, their fundamental responsibilities have not. Librarians must assist individuals to find, identify, select and obtain information (Hider, 2012), and this should be done effectively and efficiently. As a subject, ETL 505, Describing and Analysing Educational Resources, had these responsibilities as its key focus and purpose; in particular, how the description of these resources aids effective information retrieval (CSU, 2014).

When I began this course, I assumed that this would be one of the first topics I would learn about, believing it to be crucial knowledge for a school librarian. Given its complexity and difficulty, I am thankful it was one of the last! I’ve also altered my beliefs- whilst school librarians do need to understand how the Dewey Decimal System works and how Resource Description Access (RDA) works, they do not need to be experts as they will likely never be responsible for assigning the descriptive information of resources. However, the importance of the data models, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) (IFLA, 1998) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) (IFLA, 2009) and the content standard RDA, as frameworks for organising bibliographic information was highlighted as they promote consistency across information agencies, allowing librarians a shared language and therefore a shared understanding. Thus, information can be exchanged expediently.

Through these frameworks and the standardisation of metadata (such as controlled vocabularies), users are able to increase their access to information resources. Prior to this subject, I had never really given much thought to the actual organisation of information. I knew it was organised and that particular systems were used, I just didn’t think about the how, or the why. The assessment tasks and workbooks have been practical and challenging, yet very valuable in developing my understanding of these processes. ETL505 also highlighted the fact that although resources can be catalogued and standard vocabularies and descriptions used, there is still room for interpretation, and with this interpretation, sometimes human error.

This interpretation of a resource’s metadata allows Teacher Librarians flexibility in the organisation of their school libraries. Resources can be organised more traditionally, by subject, using the Dewey Decimal System (DDC), and subject headings assigned by SCIS (Schools Cataloguing Information Service). These tools allow easy access to resources, however, Teacher Librarians must also know their students and staff and the keyword approach means that TLs can add their own subject access points to some records in the school library through creating additional controlled vocabulary terms or adding more pertinent notes that can be retrieved through keyword searching. This can assist with an item’s accessibility.

With resources becoming increasingly digitised, this presents many challenges for the future of resource description and organisation. Social tagging, whereby the users (or authors, or contributors) index the information, can be useful when a controlled vocabulary is not viable. The vocabulary afforded through social tagging can be more authentic to its users, and can cover more search terms, however, significant control over the information must be forfeited and this can reduce access to the resource as precision in its description is reduced. I’d like to think that there can be a balance struck between controlling the integrity of metadata, and increasing access points, and therefore accessibility of resources.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

ETL 503 Assignment One Reflection- Sweet Selection

For some reason I really struggled with this assignment. I submitted it punctually, which is a plus, and I set aside lots of time to complete it, but it took a lot longer than I thought it would and I found Part B really hard to structure, and therefore, complete.

I wasn't happy with my final product, but it's gone to the EASTS Gods now and I'll await its return with a not-so-keen anticipation.

I think, on reflection, what frustrated me most about it was that it was such a slow and protracted process. I'm not working in a school presently (as I'm on mat. leave), and therefore I have very limited access to common selection aids or tools. This meant that I had to search, and search and search for a tool that I could access free of charge and without a registered-school login, and then, once I found an appropriate selection tool, I then had to search it to find appropriate resources (which was also difficult- my fault, as I chose a not-so-school-age-friendly topic- Schizophrenia).

Is this the process that TLs really use? I know that Kennedy (2006), states that it is the responsibility of the TL to become familiar with the available selection aids, and I know that this assignment was about the process rather than the actual chosen resources, but I think the tools need to be made available for students in this course who aren't in a school otherwise it becomes an invalid exercise.

I found searching for website collections also really time consuming and with little reward. I think, and TLs, please correct me if I'm wrong, but the most logical thing to do is use a search engine to find appropriate resources yourself- it is much faster and given the knowledge I've now developed on website evaluation (from ETL 501), this seems to be the most logical process. I understand the usefulness of compiling a list of reviewed sites that from publications such as "Connect", but I can't imagine many TLs, when trying to find useful websites, would go back to a past issue of such a publication, find the right page, read the review and then type in the URL and preview the website themselves- it seems like there's a lot of unnecessary steps there.

I think, if I'm armed with a myriad of selection tools with which I'm familiar, then they would be useful, particularly if they are send regularly via email or snail mail as catalogues

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Out with the old... Who keeps books as trophies?

It's a bold move for a librarian-in-training to publicly declare that they are getting rid of their beloved collection of books. Indeed, I feel nervous even writing my intentions. However, I have decided that I am going to do a major sort through of my collection of beloved friends and that it's time for a serious cull.

In doing so, I've had to think about why I have kept so many. Why am I holding on to these possessions that are mostly collecting dust? There's many reasons. Some I truly love, some are sentimental, some are the holders of my good intentions (one day I'll push past your first 100 dull pages and finish you!), and some I don't feel I've owned long enough to get rid of yet (consumer guilt I think). And some, well, some I have because I think I should.

I've had to establish some rules. Here they are:

Rule 1: If it is sentimental, then it stays. This includes books from my late maternal grandmother, (herself an avid reader), school texts with my teenage scrawl in the margins, and books that have been given as gifts or that I wish to pass down to my son.

Rule 2: If I truly, truly loved it, then it stays (going through them all, this actually doesn't apply to many)

Rule 3: If I haven't read it yet, then it stays (surprisingly applies to many many more than I thought possible!)

Rule 4: If I've read it, and none of the other above rules apply, then it goes.

I began writing this post a while ago, and the sorting is now done and dusted. I've given boxes of books to an op shop and have given dozens away to friends and family (share the love, I say).

But, my reading hasn't been hampered by this culling, and indeed, it has even increased.

Yes, that's right. I've bought a Kindle. And I think it's true love.

Monday, 10 October 2011

ETL 401 - Critical Synthesis

When I began this course, and particularly this subject, I did so because I was (and still am) passionate about teaching and learning and reading and students. Becoming a TL seemed like a natural progression to my classroom teaching practices and it still seemed like it would be a role with enough dimensions fuel my passion. My knowledge about the role of a TL was extremely limited and was based on my experiences firstly as a student, and then as a teacher through observing my colleagues. The TL’s main role, in my experience, was to check out books to classes, create pathfinders (usually printed) for disorganised teachers, and catalogue and process new materials. Occasionally, their role would see them address year levels and inform them of new resources, or of the importance of referencing their research correctly to avoid plagiarism. All of this, however, was usually done in a rush and squeezed into a brief twenty minute assembly. As Purcell, suggests, I wrongly thought that “all librarians do is check out books. . .” (Purcell, 2008).

Although I knew this course would challenge my preconceptions about the role of a TL, what I didn’t expect was the potential enormity of their role. Herring (2007), identifies 11 roles of a TL, whilst Purcell (2008), identifies five roles. This seems really discrepant given that TLs are so often undervalued by the executive staff and the teaching staff who see them as the equivalent of a “chimney sweep”! (Braxton, 2003). Evidence suggests that the school Principal plays a vital role in determining how effective the school library is (Hartzell, 2003) and evidence suggests that the school library plays a pivotal role in the learning outcomes of its students (2-9% of student achievement can be attributed to the school library) (Lance, 2001 in Oberg, 2002). I knew that a good TL- like any good professional, is proactive (Oberg, 2006), but I was surprised at the lack of Principal support that many TLs seem to receive as I would have liked to believe that all Principals value all members of their staff and that the library (or media centre, or information resource centre) is a valued school resource.

What I didn’t expect (perhaps somewhat naively) in undertaking this course and the discussions about information literacy, was the role of the TL as information literacy teacher. (Herring, 2007; Purcell, 2008, Eisenberg, 2006). Braxton (2008), states that “literacy through literature was the prime responsibility of the teacher-librarian”. Indeed, it was this literature role that I was most familiar with. Although my first blog post spoke about my passion for information literacy, it also, as many other students’ did, spoke about my love of books (Warner, 2011). Now, however, the role of TL as literacy teacher is much broader as the concept of literacy has expanded to include all types of information. Prior to this course, I thought that it was primarily the role of the subject-teacher to teach their students to think critically about information and how best to use it. Ideally, they would be doing this as they were the ones to set the inquiry based projects. Walker, however, states that the school library media specialist must “understand those skills that students need to read and, most importantly, to read for understanding, [they have] . . . the special expertise necessary to bridge the technical skills of reading with the experiential side of reading” (in Cart, 2007). With this information then, it is necessary that the TL be proactive and work collaboratively with classroom teachers across all aspects of the curriculum to ensure that these technical skills are being brought to light. One way to do this, is to “envision the ideal and then work backwards” (Higginbottom, 2010).

The role of a TL entails so much more than reading and processing books. TLs today are dynamic collaborators who, with their passion for information and technology in all forms are able to help students become critical, literate and engaged. My perception of the TL has expanded and will continue to do so as the roles and responsibilities afforded them adapt to the changing information environment.

Braxton, B. (2003). Raising your profile- again. Teacher Librarian. 31 (1). Pp 41-42.

Braxton, B. (2008). The teacher-librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from:

Cart, M. (2007). Teacher librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian. 34 (3). Pp 8-12. Retrieved October 5, 2011.

Eisenberg, M. (2006). Three roles for the 21st-century teacher-librarian. CSLA Journal. 29(2). Pp 21-23.

Hartzell, G. (2003). Why should Principals support school libraries? Connections. 43.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed. ) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Higginbottom, J. (2010). What is a literacy leader? Literacy Leader (blog). Retrieved from: October 7, 2011.

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School Libraries in Canada. 22(2). Pp 10-13.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian. 33 (3). Pp 13-18.

Purcell, M. (2008). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the rols of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection. 29 (3). Pp 30-33.

Warner, J. (2011). Welcoming myself to blogger (again). Unshelved. Retrieved from October 5, 2011.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Discussion on the role of the Principal in working with the TL

So, it's my week this week to help lead the discussion in the forum on aspects of the Principal and their support. To be quite honest- I was a little nervous doing this! It's one thing to speak openly in a small tutorial in person, but committing something to paper (even in its virtual form) and then presenting it to the whole subject contingent and having to appear knowledgeable on the topic too is quite daunting!

I did, however, do all the reading for this week, and although it has helped my understanding of the importance of the role the TL plays, I can't help but feel it's a bit "chicken or the egg" when it comes to determining the relationship between Principal and TL. It needs to be a collaborative and mutually interdependent relationship. A Principal can't create an effective library without an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and proactive TL, and the TL can't be those things unless they have the support (financially and professionally) of the Principal (and with that, the wider school).

Anyway, here's my forum posts as they were entered tonight.


Collaboration between any group or individuals requires the factors of trust, shared vision and communication (Mattesich et. al., 2001 in Haycock, 2007). This is especially necessary for school professionals (academic and non-academic staff). Trust is important (to gain and maintain the trust of both students and colleagues). School staff need to have a shared vision (this should be guided by the school’s mission statement or ethos and should be used as a yardstick of sorts for self- reflection and as a guiding tool when it comes to planning and collaborating. Communication, to be effective, needs to be timely, clear and honest and should involve all parties.

I agree with Hancock that TLs, to be credible, need to be highly skilled in collaboration, although I would argue (and I don’t necessarily think that this is the point that he is making), that all staff working in a school, or indeed, in any professional environment, should be highly skilled in collaboration. When collaboration doesn’t happen between classroom teachers and TLs it can perhaps be attributed to the following reasons: (This is just my personal opinion and is based on my experience and anecdotal evidence).

- Time poor teachers (teachers may simply “run out of time” to organise to involve the TL in their lesson planning)

- Some teachers are protective of their work (either they don’t want to share because they don’t want their ideas used by others, or they feel that their teaching style or method is being judged or criticised. This may be why some teachers are hesitant to use the skills of the TL- (as was the case in one article I read – although I can’t find it now) as they feel they should have those skills themselves.

- Some teachers don’t value the TL

- Some teachers do not have time in the packed curriculum to teach effective research skills

The role of the Principal.

What I can take away from the readings is that the relationship between the TL and the Principal needs to be collaborative. What is also clear is that, if the Principal isn’t initially supportive of the role the school library plays within the school, then it is up to the TL to highlight the important role it plays.

The TL can do this in many ways- they need to be extroverted enough and proactive enough to actually engage the Principal in the discussion (Haycock). They should be prepared to present the Principal with research-based evidence on the contribution school libraries make to student learning (either their own or an analysis of the available literature), (Oberg, 2002). They need to be prepared to highlight the important role they play in the management of the school library (perhaps through having conducted a time study as suggested by Purcell). They then need to have a Principal who is forward thinking and open-minded, and who has the physical means (access to finances and the support of the school board) in order to maintain the resources of the library to the high standard needed to support student learning. TLs may find this difficult if they are introverted, unmotivated, do not have a good working relationship with their Principal, are prevented from collaboration due to time-table clashes and the physical isolation of the library, have a Principal who has a stereotypical view of TLs or have academic staff who do not value the role of the TL or are ignorant of their skill set.

What is the most important aspect do you think? What is the biggest hurdle that a TL will face with their Principal? What is the best way for a TL to overcome the mindset that librarians just check out books and mind the desk?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Welcoming myself to blogger (again)

A few years ago I tried this whole blogging thing- a girlfriend and I set up a blog, on blogger, and called it "Cheese, Wine, Everything's Fine" (a good motto if you ask me). It was dreamed up after a few glasses and we thought our wit and hilarity would make us famous in the blogosphere. Needless to say, we didn't stick with it, we're not famous, and we're not as funny in the morning light!

Hopefully, with a bit more of an incentive this time around (like having to pass a course...), I'll be more diligent and more astute in my observations and entries.

So, about me... I'm a VCE Psychology teacher and I'm currently on maternity leave with my first child (who's now 10 months old). I'm undertaking the MEd TL for a few different reasons- I've always loved libraries. I love the sense of belonging they create in the community, I love the role they play in providing information and in encouraging the seeking of information. I love the quiet, cosy nooks they provide and the designated work spaces they offer. I appreciate also, the role that the school library and its librarians play in the wider school community, but also feel frustrated for the lack of acknowledgment that is given them.

I like the idea that being a TL will allow me to use my training and background in teaching and education, and combine that passion with my love of books and information literacy while still being in a school environment.

Oh, and I used to "play" libraries when I was little. I think it was meant to be...