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


Guided inquiry is defined by Todd (2010, p. 11) as ”carefully planned, closely supervised, targeted intervention of an instructional team of teachers and teacher librarians to guide students through curriculum-based inquiry units that build deep knowledge and deep understanding of a curriculum topic, and gradually lead towards independent learning”. Guided inquiry is a process by which to work with students and is not an additional subject for them to learn. Guided inquiry prepares children for lifelong learning rather than preparing them for a specific test. It is thought that through a process of guided inquiry, students will develop independence in their learning and research, teachers will enhance the learning opportunities throughout the curriculum and teacher librarians will promote the library as an active learning environment (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007).

The role of teacher librarian within guided inquiry wordleTodd (2010, p. 7) suggests the role of the teacher librarian within the implementation of a guided inquiry approach is “that of an information learning specialist”. Kuhlthau et. al (2007, p. 57) suggest the teacher librarian “has three main roles in guided inquiry: resource specialist, information literacy teacher; and collaboration gatekeeper”. Both definitions identify that the teacher librarian should lead the teachers within the school in the implementation of guided inquiry both inside and outside of the library. Guided inquiry extends to the classroom where the skills of information literacy are integrated into all areas of the curriculum and supported by the teacher librarian inside the library. Given the teacher librarian is the expert in information literacy skills, it is therefore important for them to take ownership of the guided inquiry implementation throughout the curriculum to support and enhance the skills of the teachers.

The role of resource specialist suggested by Kuhlthau et. al (2007) highlights the important role the teacher librarian plays in being aware of changes to the curriculum and constantly updating and improving the collection within the library to support the teaching occurring within not just the library but also classrooms throughout the school. This highlights the additional responsibilities that teacher librarians have within the guided inquiry approach which is not just face-to-face teaching but also the organisation and availability of appropriate resources.

Perhaps one of the most important roles of the teacher librarian within the guided inquiry approach is the collaboration that needs to occur between the teacher librarian, the rest of the instructional team and the learners. “Guided inquiry builds a community of learners through social interaction and collaboration with others. This collaborative process is critical in developing the skills of lifelong learning” (Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association, 2009). It is through this collaboration that students learn the skills which are necessary for students to succeed within the 21st century and the ongoing advances in technologies made year to year.

It is clear that guided inquiry is led by the teacher librarian although it involves the participation of the entire teaching staff within the school. The ability of the teacher librarian to communicate effectively with their colleagues, keep on top of curriculum changes and resource the library collection with appropriate content and differing learning resources which invite participation from the learners is crucial in developing lifelong learning skills within the students.


Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association (2009). ALIA/ALSA Policy on Guided Inquiry and the Curriculum. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Westport: Libraries Unlimited Inc.

Todd, R. J. (2010). Curriculum Integration. In Learning in a Changing World series. Camberwell: ACER Press.

Posted by: leish79 | March 23, 2013

Are school librarians an endangered species?

For the Jan/Feb 2012 issue, five leaders were asked to present their 30 second thought on the question: “Are school librarians an endangered species?” Click on the link to listen to their thoughts.

All five commentators were unanimous in articulating their view that school librarians are not extinct yet, however the librarian will need to redefine their roles as they move into the 21st century. Each commentator stresses that librarians are a vital and necessary part of the school community, however librarians need to embrace the move from simply being curators of printed material to leading the way in showing available technologies to students, teachers and parents. Librarians continue to be the experts in teaching students to learn with information and this will continue regardless of print or digital media. The importance of the librarian will continue to grow as the information age expands.

Posted by: leish79 | March 17, 2013

My experience of searching the library databases

confused image'My return to studying and subsequently searching library databases has mirrored many others who have already provided feedback to this question. Where do I start and what am I looking for?

The instructions provided by the lecturers was a great start to my reintroduction to academia, however the sheer volume of databases available and the number of articles returned when I hit the search button was enough to make me swoon. Exactly how am I going to narrow down all of this information into a manageable amount of reading?

The process of searching for your terms of reference appears easy enough but the ability to critically analyse the results, that’s the challenging part. Whilst I critically analyse and reflect on a daily basis in my current employment, the sources of information available to me during the day are vastly limited when compared with the journal articles available to me by night!

Whilst it is an exciting prospect to venture back into the world of study and the hope that at the end of the course I may live the dream of becoming a teacher librarian, the road to get there suddenly a daunting task and I am madly trying to remember how I handled all of this at the tender age of 18!

I look forward to tips and advice posted by my fellow students along with the lecturers to help me along!

The necessity for primary school libraries to have p-books available for students I believe remains as vital as ever. Picture books for young children are an integral entry point to the development of their literacy skills. The ability for children to interact with a p-book provides a sensory experience that an e-book is unable to offer. As Shatzkin (2013) points out, the appeal of illustrated books in digital format is diminished when compared to print. Whilst the use of e-books and other digital media (eg. DVD’s and the Internet) has its place within a library collection, it is important to primary school children to achieve a balance between p-books, e-books and other digital resources. According to Mitchell (2011) teacher librarians are essential in ensuring students have access to resources that are “both high touch and high tech to maximise student engagement and learning”.


The virtualisation of Henley High School’s library is reportedly a success within the parameters of older children who generally access the school library for research material rather than to access fictional material to read for pleasure. As Shatzkin (2013) points out the transference of “immersive reading” texts to e-book does not change the way the information is read and absorbed to a great extent. This being the case, the average teenager in today’s society is more likely to access digital content than non-digital content and the success of Henley High School may have an impact on other secondary schools as time goes on. However, it could be argued that the removal of p-books from the library space then significantly impairs the schools ability to cater to special needs students, who generally respond well to the sensory experience that accompanies a p-book, or those students performing at a lower than average level where more basic texts involving high levels of illustration are required.

Personally I am an e-book reader where novels are concerned despite cries from others about “don’t you miss the feel of a real book?” and I am happy with my choice. That being said, since beginning my postgraduate study my attempts to read the course content and readings on my IPad have failed miserably and I have been forced to print them onto paper for me to feel I have fully absorbed the content. Whether this is reflective of my age and therefore my exposure to digital media within my schooling (which during primary schooling was limited to a computer room you visited once a week for an hour where you shared a computer and played games only) or the sensory experience which calms me, it is evident to me that the transition to solely digital media for myself will never be fully achieved.


Mitchell, P. (2011). Resourcing 21st century online Australian Curriculum: The role of school libraries, FYI Autumn 2011, pp. 10-15

Shatkin, M. (2013). What to watch for in 2013 in the idea logical company. Retrieved from

The concept of a library acting as a storehouse to archive and hold important documents (Frey, n.d.) has changed over time. The role of a librarian will continue to evolve whilst technology advances and librarians will need to embrace these changes in order to move forward with the advancements of technology. The realm of the Internet and Google has brought with it a sense that finding information is easy and uncomplicated. However the web graphic provided for review demonstrates the complexity of the storage of information within the virtual world and clearly identifies that the wealth of knowledge available to the average consumer is the tip of the iceberg. This then leads the way for the librarian to be a leader of change, not just within schools, but within wider society. It also highlights the importance for librarians to embrace technology and imbed this into their practice so that they may then facilitate change within their immediate sphere of influence.
Frey (n.d.) states, “As we achieve the ability to conduct more and more complicated searches, the role of the librarian to assist in finding this kind of information also becomes more and more important.” When looked at in this context, the role of the librarian would remain essentially unchanged, that is, the role requires someone skilled in finding the information needed by the child or patron, however the way the information is sought will change as technology advances. With this in mind libraries need to “embrace new information technologies” (Frey n.d.) and librarians need to increase their expertise of technology. Technology assists in engaging students in the process of learning and whilst the continual advancements change the tools a librarian utilises the necessity of a professional to assist with how to find information will remain unchanged.
The advancement in technology and the embracement of these advances by the librarian will widen the scope for ways in which librarians can assist their students/patrons which is an exciting prospect. Already students are able to interact with teachers via smart boards in a way that was impossible when I was a young student and the possibilities into the future are something to be hopeful of. The challenge for the teacher librarian lies in how to impart this knowledge in a manner which is conducive to not only increasing the knowledge base of his/her students but also assisting the students to develop the skills needed with which to locate and share the information they require (Hamilton, 2011, p. 35).

Frey, T. (n.d.). “The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Transformation.” davinciinstitute. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from
Hamilton, B. (2011). The school librarian as teacher: What kind of teacher are you? Knowledge Quest, 39(5), 34-40.

Web graphic

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