The teacher librarian as evidence gatherer, researcher, and advocate for school libraries

In an age where school libraries and teacher librarians are operating in the midst of funding and staffing pressures, the demands associated with My School and school performance, and the fight for professional credibility and the support of their school communities, it has become inevitable that teacher librarians need to be gathering evidence to support their role in the school. Teacher librarians are required to prove their worth and demonstrate how they impact upon the learning outcomes of students.

Todd (2008, p. 40) describes evidence-based practice as the “use of research-derived evidence to make decisions about how the school library can best meet the instructional goals of the school”. It focuses on student achievement of learning outcomes and how teacher librarians impact upon this. Todd (2008, p. 40) argues that “If we do not show value, we will not have a future. Evidence based practice is not about the survival of school librarians, it’s about the survival of our students”.  Students need teacher librarians who equip them for a successful school experience by developing deep knowledge and critical thinking, and the “ability to apply new skills and knowledge across discipline areas and grade levels” (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 36), as well as developing the “competencies and skills for thinking, living, and working” in the twenty-first century (Todd, 2008, p. 40). Given the high stakes for our students, it is crucial that teacher librarians demonstrate how they are contributing to this.

Teacher librarians are well positioned to have a positive impact on student achievement. Oberg (2002) reports that regular library use has shown to play a role in improving student achievement (p. 12) and “students whose librarians played an instructional role – either by identifying materials to be used with teacher-planned instructional units or by collaborating with teachers in planning instructional units – tended to achieve higher average test scores” (p. 13). Todd (2007, p. 72) also describes how collaboration with classroom teachers can provide TLs with opportunities for developing authentic research through the school library by identifying “zones of intervention” within the curriculum. The vital task for TLs is to provide evidence of the value of these activities.

Evidence-based practice “validates that quality learning outcomes can be achieved through the school library and that the school librarian is an important instructional partner” (Todd, 2008, p. 41). However, Hay & Todd (2010, p. 34) claim that TLs tend to make claims about their impact on student outcomes based on personal experience, intuition, unstructured observations and anecdotes rather than empirical evidence. In order to be effective advocates for their profession, TLs need to engage with research literature to “provide the empirical basis for making and justifying decisions, and for identifying gaps on which continuous improvement programs can be built” (Todd, 2007, pp. 65-66). They need to analyse test results for data that affirms the library’s contribution to positive results or highlights areas in which library involvement may help to improve weak results (Oberg, 2002, p. 11). Todd (2008, p. 40) suggests that multiple types of evidence be gathered, as “using and comparing data from a number of sources… can develop stronger claims about your practice’s impact and outcomes”. Such evidence is essential if advocacy is to be powerful and effective.

Once gathered, evidence should be shared with key stakeholders in the school community, such as the principal, executive staff, teachers, students and parents. It is important that these stakeholders recognise that library activities are based on best practice, are student focused, and are working towards the achievement of school goals and objectives. Oberg (2002, p. 13) stresses the importance of presenting data in meaningful ways, such as in the form of stories, case studies or scenarios, in order to have the greatest impact. The need for continuous gathering and communicating of information is also argued by Kramer  & Diekman (2010, p. 30), who claim that assessment data needs to be reported regularly rather than just in times of threat. It is a constant stream of why we are at the centre of teaching and learning”.

Part of being a proactive researcher and advocate also involves recognising what is happening outside of the school library, in the general school environment and in other schools. Active engagement with teaching/learning committees in the school, developing professional networks, using professional associations, and attending conferences provide an opportunity for teacher librarians to gather and share evidence about the impact of their practice (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 37). Todd (2007, p. 74) suggests that TLs create an EBP portfolio so that claims about library can be continually refined and extended.

Evidence gathering is an important role for teacher librarians, and is essential if they are to be proactive in advocating for the profession and the value of school libraries in the twenty-first century.

References:

Hay, L. & Todd, R. J. (2010). School libraries 21C: the conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42.

Kramer, P.  & Diekman, L. (2010). Evidence = assessment = advocacy. Teacher Librarian, 37(3), 27-30.

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

Todd, R. J. (2007) Evidence-based practice and school libraries: from advocacy to action. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada. School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY : Libraries Unlimited.

Todd, R. J. (2008). The evidence-based manifesto. School Library Journal, 54(4), 38-43.

How might a teacher librarian make his or her priorities both clear and palatable to the school community?

The breadth of the role of the teacher librarian (TL), and the need to ensure that they meet the needs of their particular school community, requires the teacher librarian to set priorities in order to perform their role effectively. Careful consideration needs to be made about how to establish these priorities and how to communicate these with stakeholders so that they will be received in a positive and supportive light.

TLs can ensure that their priorities are understood and acknowledged by key stakeholders, including principals, teachers, students and parents, by aligning them with the teaching and learning goals of the school, as these are “the core business of the teacher librarian” (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 36). School (and system) goals and objectives for different curriculum areas or different groups of students should be used to inform library programs and priorities (Johnson, 2007). Focusing on knowledge construction through constructivist and inquiry-based frameworks (Todd, 2007, p. 63) and helping students to “apply new skills and knowledge across discipline areas and grade levels” (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 36) ensures that TLs are addressing whole school needs and student learning outcomes, and leans positively towards gaining support from the school community, especially teachers, executive staff and the principal.

Setting priorities based on knowledge of the curriculum and programs to address the results from school, system and national testing shows school communities how TLs can support teaching and learning in the school and improve outcomes for students. Todd (2007, p. 72) explains that, through collaboration with teachers and study of curriculum outcomes, “zones of intervention” can be identified, enabling TLs to develop “authentic research through the school library” whilst supporting teachers in implementing the curriculum. They can also draw upon data that the school has that identifies areas for improvement and contribute to whole school plans to address these (Todd, 2007, p. 75).

TLs may also draw upon the research literature from their field when determining priorities, particularly methods for enhancing student learning outcomes. This research will “provide the empirical basis for making and justifying decisions, and for identifying gaps on which continuous improvement programs can be built” (Todd, 2007, pp. 65-66). The use of research, at a local level and beyond, provides a solid basis for establishing library priorities and increases the perception of the TL as a valuable, professional member of staff.

Once priorities have been set, it is crucial that TLs gather evidence to support these and communicate their priorities and how they can impact on student learning to key stakeholders in the school community. TLs need to be advocates for themselves and for the library, but this needs to be accompanied by empirical evidence (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 37). This is important not only in garnering support for the library and its programs, but also in campaigning for funding, staffing and resources. Hay & Todd (2010, p. 37) argue that TLs “need to engage the whole school community in conversations about the school library and its contribution to learning”. Some ways in which they can do this include:

  • Presenting reports at school board meetings
  • Writing articles for school newsletters
  • Providing the principal with regular reports outlining needs, priorities and activities of the library
  • Public relations events (Lamb & Johnson, 2004-2007) – such as speaking or having a display at parent information nights, Numeracy information sessions, Literacy information sessions
  • Presenting findings on school library web site/blog/app
  • Linking the mission and goals for student learning in the school library to those of the school and key research claims (Todd, 2007)
  • Presenting information about library events, resources and programs at staff meetings regularly
  • Ensuring that the library collection contains up-to-date resources in a variety of formats, including relevant resources for teachers, and setting up displays of useful resources so that they are visible and easily accessible

Making sure that student learning outcomes are the focus of communication and library priorities will help to create greater understanding and acceptance of library programs and the role of the teacher librarian.

References:

Hay, L. & Todd, R. J. (2010). School libraries 21C: the conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42.

Johnson, D. (2006-2007). Demonstrating our impact: putting numbers in context part 1. In Doug Johnson: writing, speaking and consulting on school technology and library issues. Retrieved from http://www.doug-johnson.com/dougwri/demonstrating-our-impact-1.html

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2004-2007). Library media program: evaluation. In The school library media specialist. Retrieved http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evaluation.html

Todd, R. J. (2007) Evidence-based practice and school libraries: from advocacy to action. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada. School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY : Libraries Unlimited.

Blog Task 1: The role of the TL in practice with regard to principal support

The role of the teacher librarian (TL) covers a range of roles, such as teacher, librarian, and information literacy leader (Herring, 2007, p. 30). In order to successfully fulfill these and implement a valuable library program, TLs must have the support of the principal. Oberg (2006, pp. 15-16) argues that TLs can achieve this by establishing professional credibility, communicating effectively, and supporting the achievement of school goals.

The support of the principal is essential if the teacher librarian is to make a valuable contribution to teaching and learning. It is the principal who has the capacity to establish the structures and culture that enables a library program to be successful, such as flexible scheduling and developing a culture of collaboration (Oberg, 2006, p. 14). The principal’s support of the TL and library program is also instrumental in gaining the support of teachers and students (Oberg, 2006, p. 15). However, due to factors such as a lack of understanding about the role of the TL and a lack of library-related research in principals’ publications (Morris & Packard, 2007, p. 37), gaining support is challenging. Oberg (2006, pp. 15-16) suggests that TLs can overcome this “by building their professional credibility, by communicating effectively with principals, and by working to advance school goals”.

Teacher librarians must build their professional credibility, and can do so by demonstrating initiative, confidence, communication skills and leadership qualities (Haycock, 2007, p. 32). TLs must be prepared to take on leadership responsibilities in and out of the library (Hartzell, 2003b, para. 12), and are well positioned to be leaders in staff development, given their knowledge of the curriculum, library resources, and technology (Farmer, 2007, p. 62). Credibility is also gained by demonstrating a commitment to lifelong learning through participation in professional learning and networking. Exhibiting the willingness to share expertise will help to earn the principal’s support and accentuate the value of the TL to the school.

Because many principals are not exposed to evidence supporting the value of the library in their training and professional literature (Hartzell, 2002, pp. 2-3), the teacher librarian must effectively communicate what their role involves and what is happening in their library program (Farmer, 2007, p. 61). This is crucial if misconceptions about TLs and libraries are to change. TLs must also promote their role as instructional leaders (St. Lifer, 2004, p. 11) and ensure that principals know how they are contributing to students’ success (Farmer, 2007, p. 56), as this can be difficult to assess. Meeting regularly with the principal (Gallagher-Hayashi, 2001, p. 15) and communicating ideas in terms of the needs of the school (Hartzell, 2003a, p. 21) can help build a positive relationship with the principal and increase their support.

Teacher librarians must demonstrate how they are working to advance the goals of the school. This can be achieved by ensuring that the goals and mission of the library align with those of the school (Farmer, 2007, p. 56) and by working collaboratively with teachers (Haycock, 2007, p. 32). St. Lifer (2004, p. 11) also encourages TLs to be involved in the setting of school goals and in promoting the library as a valuable tool in achieving these. TLs also need to demonstrate their capacity to help principals achieve their goals and priorities, such as helping to manage school knowledge (Farmer, 2007, p. 62) and providing research that supports educational reforms (Gallagher-Hayashi, 2001, p. 15). Support can be mutual, and TLs need to ensure that principals realise this.

The success of any library program is dependent upon the support of the principal. Building professional credibility, communicating effectively, and working towards the achievement of school goals will increase principals’ support of TLs and library programs, and in turn, the support of teachers, students and the wider school community.

References:

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.

Gallagher-Hayashi, D. (2001). Moving the fence: Engaging your principal in your school library program. Teacher Librarian, 28(5), 13-17.

Hartzell, G. (2002, June). What’s it take? Paper presented at the Washington White House Conference on School Libraries, Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.laurabushfoundation.com/Hartzell.pdf

Hartzell, G. (2003a). The power of audience: Effective communication with your principal. Library Media Connection, 22(2), 20.

Hartzell, G. (2003b). Why should principals support school libraries? Teacher Librarian, 31(2), para. 12

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

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.

Morris, B. J., & Packard, A. (2007). The principals’ support of classroom teacher-media specialist collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 36-55.

Oberg, D.  (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

St. Lifer, E. (2004). Getting in the principal’s face: Give your boss compelling reasons to be the school’s top library advocate. School Library Journal, 50(10), 11.

The role of the teacher librarian and principal support: My experiences and ideas

What sort of role do you see yourself fulfilling in the school as a TL (Herring lamb, Purcell and Valenza)?

After reading the ALIA and ASLA (2004) Standards Document I can see how these standards refer to “excellent, highly accomplished teacher librarians”. As someone starting out in the field they are quite overwhelming and highlight the breadth of the teacher librarian role. But they have made me realise that

  • I am currently really only scratching the surface of the job that I could be doing – I feel that my current focus as a TL is primarily on setting the library up as a positive and welcoming learning and recreational space and fostering a love and enjoyment of reading. Whilst this is important, I want to be doing more.
  • I need to collaborate a lot more with staff, increase my focus on information literacy and go deeper with my knowledge and teaching of quality literature in order to have a greater role in student learning.
  • I need to make greater use of ICT (and learn how to use it effectively) – students want to be and are interested in using it, although access in library is limited, a barrier that we will need to overcome.

The views of Herring (2007), Purcell (2010), Lamb (2011) and Valenza (2010) make one thing certain: the job of the teacher librarian is diverse, multi-faceted and vital to the teaching and learning that takes place in a school. As Herring (2007, p.31) writes, teacher librarians should prioritise their roles “according to the current needs of the students, staff and parents in the school community”. The TL role in my school is currently incorporated into the school’s release model. I have administration time each morning in which I catalogue and process new materials, return and shelve books, set up displays, tidy the library and prepare for my lessons. Purcell (2010) suggests recruiting volunteers and establishing a student helper program to help reduce some of the time spent on these clerical tasks, which is definitely an idea that I will look into, as I am desperate for more time to devote to planning and preparing for my lessons.

I then teach classes who come to the library while their teacher has their administration/planning time. I do feel that my impact on student learning is limited at the moment, and these readings have really opened my eyes to what I could be doing. I like the roles explored by Purcell (2010), especially that of instructional partner. The importance of collaboration between the TL and classroom teachers is a common theme among this week’s readings (Purcell, 2010; Oberg, 2006; Haycock, 2007; Farmer, 2007; Morris & Packard, 2007). Haycock (2007, p.32) argues that “collaboration is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”. I feel that I am currently working at the ‘cooperation’ level of collaboration that Morris & Packard (2007, p.39) describe: I am a “provider of resources for the teacher”. I am going to strive for meaningful ‘collaboration’, “where the media specialist and classroom teacher together plan instruction, develop instructional materials, and evaluate students’ work”.  As Haycock (2007, p.29) writes, the role played by the TL “is not a support role; it is not a service role; it is a partner role”.

The readings have also inspired me to become more active in participating in professional learning and networking opportunities and trying to reshape and redefine my role within the school. However, I do wonder, how do you achieve all of this as a part time teacher? Particularly one who ‘job-shares’ only the teaching load with 2 other teachers who just ‘fill in’ as library teachers, and is left to do the rest of the TL job alone? It seems like a lot to take on on your own in three days.

Within your experience, how do principals perceive the role of the TL?

In my experience, I feel that the TL is seen as being a sort of ‘relief’ teacher and that the library program is not regarded as particularly important. I feel that the focus is primarily on the TL managing the resources in the library, facilitating lending by staff and students, and creating a nice, welcoming space for students.

I agree with Oberg (2006) when she argues that physical isolation in the library and scheduling can limit the ability of the TL to build relationships with other teachers. I am currently not afforded any scheduled time to meet or plan with classroom teachers or teaching teams. When teams have planning days each term, the TL has traditionally fulfilled the role of substitute teacher, covering one of the teachers’ classes whilst they plan. This has made it difficult to work closely with teachers and to really feel like a valuable member of staff.

I have also felt that some principals believe that “no library news is good news” (Farmer, 2007, p. 60). Perhaps that it was due to the library being in a building separate to the rest of the school, or that they are busy and have other priorities, but I have experienced a lack of physical presence by the principal in the library. I feel that this is necessary if they are to appreciate the work of TL’s and the challenges that they face, and if teachers and students are to see that library as a place of value.

What can you do? ie. suggest 2 strategies to change perceptions?

  1. Talking to the principal and being honest about changes that I would like to see take place and why I think these are important in terms of my role within the school and the benefits for teachers and students. This week’s readings have certainly provided a lot of evidence to support the argument for collaboration and scheduled time to do this. Having an open dialogue about the library program and how it can align with and support the curriculum may help to provide more opportunities for collaboration with teachers.
  1. Ensuring that the library has a clear mission that aligns with that of the school (Haycock, 2007). If the principal, and indeed, teachers, students and the wider school community, can see that the library is “primarily focused on the development of effective learning and teaching in the school” (Haycock, 2007, p.28), then perhaps a greater respect for library programs will follow. The development of library policies, such as a collection management policy, is also essential in raising the profile of the library and the TL as an integral part of the school and curriculum delivery.

References

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaborationSchool Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learningSchool Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

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.

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., & Packard, A. (2007). The principal’s support of classroom teacher-media specialist collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 36-55.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administratorsTeacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

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, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. In Neverending Search. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

The role of the teacher librarian: some authors’ views

After reading the views of Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza, one thing is certain: the job of the teacher librarian is diverse, multi-faceted and vital to the teaching and learning that takes place in a school. With so many possible roles incorporating a wide range of tasks, such as teacher, librarian, collaborator, administrator, IT expert, curriculum leader, and instructional partner, the need to prioritise the roles played by the teacher librarian is essential.

 

 But how to best do this? Herring (2007, p.31) argues that teacher librarians should prioritise their roles “according to the current needs of the students, staff and parents in the school community” and this would be the sensible place to start. Teaching and learning is the core business of any school, and priority should be given to providing programs and services that enable this to occur effectively. Priority should therefore be given to:

  • Understanding the needs of students and teachers, including informational needs, recreational needs, teaching resources and how to cater for different learning styles
  • Collaborating with teachers to “design and implement curriculum and instruction that prepare young citizens for a life that requires thinking, inquiry, problem-solving and ethical behaviour “ (Lamb, 2011, p.27)
  • Developing information literate students and teaching them “how to apply their information literacy skills irrespective of what technology they are using and where they are finding and using information” (Herring, 2007, p.35); and
  • Participating in ongoing professional learning to keep abreast of changes in technology and the fields of librarianship and education, adapt services and programs to reflect these changes, and model a commitment to lifelong learning to students and teachers.

 

In her article, Purcell (2010) discusses the role of the library media specialist as outlined in the document “Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs”. Her visual representation of these roles (Figure 1, p.31) suggests that each role holds equal importance and all are essential in performing the job effectively. She provides a number of examples of activities performed in each of the roles, suggesting that prioritising the types of activities within each role is also important. So although a library media specialist may not be able to perform each of the activities listed, they should ensure that their role includes some aspects from each of these areas. Like Herring (2007), consideration of the needs of the school community and the need to “assist teachers and students in functioning in an increasingly complex world” (Purcell, 2010, p.31) should guide decision-making when prioritising roles.

 

Lamb (2011) stresses the importance of media specialists shifting the way that they think about their role if they are to be innovative and effective in 21st century schools. Her focus is on the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and dispositions that media specialists must possess and she calls for media specialists to “revisit, reframe, and re-imagine” (Lamb, 2011, p.28) these in order to successfully adapt to the ever-changing library and information environment. Rather than explicitly stating some examples of roles played by teacher librarians today, as was the case in the articles by Herring (2007) and Purcell (2010), Lamb (2011) examines the underlying factors that shape the roles played by the media specialist, what media specialists must know and understand about these factors, and how their thinking about these factors must shift as they enter a new age of information if they are to continue to meet the needs of their patrons.

 

In order to be as proactive as Lamb and Valenza want teacher librarians to be, I need to begin thinking outside the box and beginning to modify my view of what the library should look and function like. I currently spend the majority of my ‘admin’ time carrying out clerical tasks, particularly shelving, cataloguing, covering books, returning books, setting up displays and generally tidying the library. Purcell (2010) suggests recruiting volunteers and establishing a student helper program to help reduce some of the time spent on these, which is definitely an idea that I will look into, as I am desperate for more time to devote to planning and preparing for my lessons.

 

These four readings have made me realise that there are a number of aspects of my work that I would like to change in order to get closer to fulfilling the role that I would like to play in my school. These include:

  • Making greater use of virtual interactions to communicate with teachers – particularly in order to meet some of the information needs outlined by Herring (2007, p.37), such as keeping up to date about different subject areas and new resources available in the library to support their teaching
  • Be more proactive in exploring new book formats and ebook collections for use in the library as well as in classrooms
  • Spending time on customising the library website (currently only used for its search function) to include access to resources (both in the library and online)
  • Spending more time actually using some of the new technologies that students and teachers are using/want to be using and engaging in professional reading and professional learning activities
  • Most importantly, I need to be spending a lot more time working with teachers. I want to be actively involved in helping them plan units, providing them with the resources that they will need, and support them in their teaching both in and out of the library. This will require a discussion with the principal about a shift in perception about my role of support person to teaching teams.

 

I feel that some of the roles proposed by these authors are possible, maybe not right now but definitely in the future. However, I feel that my current work situation presents a challenge in fulfilling some of the roles. I work 3 days a week and teach ‘library’ to students in Years 1-4. I also have 2 hours of ‘admin’ time each day. After school on two of those days we have meetings. On the days that I don’t work one teacher fills in to take the Kindergarten students to the library and another takes the Year 5 and 6 students. Neither of these teachers are teacher librarians and neither perform any ‘admin’ tasks other than issuing and returning books. So my conundrum (like everyone) is time: how do you get so many tasks done in such little time? Working part time also limits my access to professional learning opportunities and professional network meetings.

 

I am particularly concerned about the role of collaborating with teachers, as this is something that I see as being vital. At my school, ‘library’ is a part of the release model. Students come to me without their teachers for library lessons and to borrow. The downside of this is that I don’t have any timetabled planning time with the teachers as my ‘admin’ time does not align with theirs. The readings this week have really opened my eyes to the value of this in supporting teachers and improving student learning outcomes, so I feel that I may need to raise this as an issue with our principal (who is new to our school this year and keen to hear any concerns that we have). I am also beginning to feel that the role of teacher librarian is best suited to a full time staff member who can work with all teacher and all students to ensure consistency of quality teaching and support across the school.

 

Herring (2007, p.27) argues that “The school library should be seen as a centre of learning first and a centre of resources second.”  As teacher librarians, I think that this is a worthwhile point to remember. Whilst I believe that Purcell (2010) intends for the roles that she presents to hold equal importance, I do feel that discussing the teaching role first would be more reflective of the core business of the teacher librarian, and indeed all teachers in a school, regardless of their specialisation or subject. I also feel that this would provide for a sense of connectedness between the teacher librarian and classroom teachers, rather than the feeling that the teacher librarian and their teaching role is discrete and separate from other teaching and learning that is taking place in the school. We are called teacher librarians, after all.

 

References:

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.

 

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.

 

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, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. In Neverending Search. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

Are school librarians an endangered species?

The message common to the statements made on the 30 Second Thought Leadership: Insights from Leaders in the School Library Community from Jan/Feb 2012 is that school librarians may be threatened but they are definitely not extinct. On the contrary, they are becoming increasingly important as schools strive to develop information literate students and prepare them for living in the 21st century.

In order to save themselves from extinction, school librarians need to redefine their role to reflect the crucial part they are playing in navigating students through the “complex media and information landscape” (Henry Jenkins). They need to actively promote this role and their unique and vital position in achieving educational outcomes to all involved in their school communities. They need to ensure that the school librarian is seen as a leader and an expert in teaching and learning in the information age. Stressing the importance and value of qualified school librarians to our schools is needed if our schools are to truly see us as a valuable and essential asset.

American Library Association. (2012). 30 second thought leadership. In American Association of School Librarians. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/aboutkq/30second_JanFeb12

 

Searching the CSU library databases: My experience

In my exploring and searching experiences so far I have found the CSU library databases to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. The tutorials are clear and give some good information about refining searches to make them more relevant. I have not used the Primo search before and am impressed with the number of options available for refining searches and the ease with which these options can be applied. I can see myself making use of the ‘My Folder’ function as a useful way of organising search results and storing them for use at a later date. I also like that the Primo search results include a ‘more options’ tab that provides a direct link to Libraries Australia to search beyond the CSU library (should that be necessary).

I also enjoyed exploring the journal databases. I used Academic Search Premier a lot during my undergraduate studies so I was familiar with many of the features of the Ebsco Host database but I did find the tutorial useful in reminding me about using truncation and selecting appropriate search fields. I also found the ability of the SFX button to search beyond the one database for full text articles to be very valuable. Searching SFX led me to looking in Science Direct which bought up a page of related articles (those using similar key terms to the one that I searched) which would lead to further relevant results. It was easy to set up a personal account in Ebsco and again the ‘My folder’ tool provides an opportunity to create customised folders and sub-folders, a great way to organise search results.

I found the ProQuest tutorial very interesting and it has made me curious to explore some tools that I have not used before. One of the advanced features is to export the record to the Endnote program, a referencing tool that I am unfamiliar with but have heard about. The ‘My research folder’ allows you to receive alerts and RSS feeds. Again, I have heard of these but have never used them. I would like to find out more about these and see if it would be worthwhile to utilise them in my research.

Finally, I conducted some searches in the A+ Education database (via Informit). I found that the number of results was similar to searches conducted in other databases but the results were mostly from newsletters or departmental journals. Despite this, I feel that, from a busy teacher’s standpoint, these articles are easier and quicker to read, keep you up to date to developments in the field, and provide relevant examples of current classroom/library practice. I am glad that I found this database as I think that it will provide for some interesting professional reading.

Overall, searching the library databases was an interesting and valuable learning experience!