Posted by: leish79 | March 24, 2013

The role of the librarian: The views of Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza.

Do I see myself fulfilling the roles proposed by Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza?

Herring (2007), Lamb (2011), Purcell (2010) and Valenza (2010) all agree that the role of the teacher librarian involves many different functions and responsibilities. Lamb and Herring identify that there are many possible roles that a teacher librarian could be seen to fulfil but that it is unrealistic to expect that the teacher librarian could fulfil all of these at any one time. Herring (p. 31) therefore suggests that “teacher librarians who manage their time effectively prioritise roles according to the current needs of students, staff and parents in the school community”. Herring (p. 27) also states the library should be seen as “a centre of learning first and a centre of resources second”. I believe the resources contained within the library complement the learning that occurs not only within the library but also within the wider school community.

Valenza’s (2010) manifesto was at first glance daunting and I found myself thinking, “There is no way I can do all that!” However, upon reflection, the manifesto catalogues not only the roles teacher librarians fulfil but also the thoughts, beliefs and learning practices the teacher librarian strives to achieve. Once the information was sorted into actions versus philosophies, the list seemed doable (if not still a little overwhelming). The manifesto may well become my best practice standards which I will aspire to achieve within the role.

All four authors highlight the importantce of the teacher librarian within schools and the multi-faceted roles identified fill me with awe and apprehension. However, I am excited at the prospect of fulfilling such a valuable role within the lives of young learners. I am keen to give every suggestion a go until I find my niche and identify how to prioritise my library so that it meets the needs of the students, the teachers, the school community and of course myself.

Would I change the order of the roles Purcell identifies?

Purcell (2010) identifies that the teacher librarian has five main roles – leader, instructional partner, teacher, information specialist and program administrator – that these roles are interconnected and one cannot be performed without the support of the other. Purcell further states that through the use of a time study, teacher librarians can identify which role they are spending the majority of their time on and identify whether there are alternative people and/or methods to complete these tasks.

Through researching guided inquiry and the role of the teacher librarian within this, I would suggest that the role of leader is the most important role the teacher librarian plays. The teacher librarian as the leader of teaching information skills can ensure these skills are taught not only in the library but throughout the school and across the curriculum. This will ensure students are developing lifelong skills which will assist them both during their formative schooling years and during later life, including university study and work. Therefore, although all of the roles identified are important for the teacher librarian to practise, I see the leadership role as the one that would bring the most benefit to the students and the school community.


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


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