A loud librarian's take on libraries and all things books.

The journey so far. The role of the teacher librarian. October 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 10:11 am

Throughout the course of study in ETL401 my perception of the role of the teacher librarian has changed markedly and yet the importance of the teacher librarian’s role in information literacy remains as clear.


My initial reflections concerned new uses for technology, excited by the prospect of blogging as a new form of communication (Barden, July 12). When studying Topic 2: The role of the teacher librarian, I became aware of how much libraries and librarians are in danger of becoming obsolete because of the changed nature of information (Barden, July 12, July 20). This helped me to understand how important advocacy for a strong school library media program is. The role of advocate resonated with me after reading Purcell’s article (Purcell, 2010). Yet, it was Valenza’s passionate manifesto (2012) of positive and influential ideas that inspired me to learn more and get involved (Barden, July 27a). I set up a social bookmarking account and began to view myself more seriously as part of the library profession, engaging in dialogue about the new direction of libraries.


The one factor I could see as having the most influence is the principal so I examined their role of support in blog task 1 (Barden, 2012). I became aware of the huge task in front of school librarians in having an effective library in the twenty-first century. After reading Haycock (2007) and Oberg (2006) I realised how effective librarians can be. When researching the role of the principal I came across a progressive primary school in this state innovative approach to their school library at Broulee PS (Barden, 2012a). I understood how collaborating with all stakeholders generates support in many ways, and how having a shared vision for the library is vital.


My curiosity about school libraries caused me to take action so I organized to relieve in a large school library for three weeks to gain some more practical experience to consolidate this new knowledge and gauge what was really happening. With a clearer view of the role and new practical knowledge about technology I sought out some opportunities to work with colleagues for greater understanding.


I reached a point of understanding during the experience in the library. By attending staff meetings I made sure to engage with different staff groups before school and at lunch times to ascertain their needs. I engaged in collaboration with stage three staff looking for resources, suggesting evaluated websites, safe search engines. I began to see my role as a librarian encompassing technology and this exchange gave me insight as to how I need to be able to scaffold information searching techniques (Barden, 2012 b). I could see the value of running professional development sessions to show teachers simple ways to access information as suggested by Herring (Herring, 2011). When reflecting on these in the forums (ref, date) I shared this positive step. I learned quickly that actively seeking people to collaborate with was much more useful than spending management time in the library without staff contact.


Looking at constructivist learning and the Australian curriculum changed my idea of the quiet library and I began to view the library as a place to build knowledge (Barden, 2012). I looked at the library through the eyes of the student based on the Y-chart principle of ‘looks like’, ‘feels like’ and ‘sounds like’ to start to create a picture of how the library would function.


The concept of information literacy was confusing to grasp although I could see that it was more than just a set of skills. I reflected in Blog task 3 that the environment for deeper understanding is inquiry based learning (Barden, 2012). A turning point occurred when I began to understand guided inquiry after reading Kuhlthau’s ISP (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2012) and Todd’s paper (Todd, 2006). Further discussion on the forum about the value of PBL made inquiry based learning a little clearer (Barden, October 2). Understanding the affective (feelings) aspect of the Information Skills Process gave me an insight of what teacher librarians are meant to do. I was left with the question of how this can be implemented and the implications of collaboration became more dramatic.


The one aspect of my understanding of the role of the teacher librarian which hasn’t changed throughout the course is the impact of the teacher librarian on improving literacy outcomes for students. As a teacher I want to make a difference and give students opportunities to gain literacy skills and reach their potential to participate in society successfully. If anything, my view of the role of the teacher librarian as an integral part of students’ literacy learning has been cemented through the examples and literature supporting library programs worldwide. I have learned that information, the way we find, access and manipulate it has changed, but the fundamental role of libraries, to access and make sense of it is still integral to the literacy success of our future generations.




Barden, L. (2012, July 29). The role of the teacher librarian with regard to principal support [Blog post].  Retrieved from


Barden, L. (2012, September 9). The role of the teacher librarian with regard to constructivist learning and the Australian Curriculum [Blog post].  Retrieved from


Barden, L. (2012, September 24). Information literacy, more than just skills [Blog post].  Retrieved from


Barden, L. (2012, August 6). Influencing Curriculum Development [Blog post].  Retrieved from


Barden, L. (2012, July 20). Sherpas and good reading [Blog post].  Retrieved from


Barden, L. (2012, July 12). Jane Eyre and Apps [Blog post].  Retrieved from


Barden, L. (2012, July 27). Reflections on Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza [online forum comment]. Retrieved October 2, 2012 from


Barden, L. (2012, September 7). Re: Management implications and Conclusion [online forum comment]. Retrieved October 4, 2012 from


Barden, L. (2012, July 27). Re: Principal support and good communication [online forum comment]. Retrieved October 4, 2012 from


Barden, L. (2012, July 27). Buns and glasses [online forum comment]. Retrieved October 2, 2012 from


Barden, L. (2012, October 2). Re: Difficult time swallowing IBL and PBL [online forum comment]. Retrieved October 4, 2012 from


Barden, L. (2012, July 26). Runaway train [online forum comment]. Retrieved October 5, 2012 from


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


Kuhlthau, C. C., & Maniotes, L. K. (2012). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, XXVI(Number 5), 18 – 21.


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


Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. [Article]. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.


Todd, R. (2006). From information to knowledge: charting and measuring changes in students’ knowledge of a curriculum topic. [Article]. Information Research, 11(4), 6-6.


Valenza, J. (2010). Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians, Retrieved from



Time management October 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 3:48 am

Key things I’ve learned:

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.
  • Set a time and stick to it. Work to a schedule.
  • Even doing a little bit helps.
  • Get used to working in less than perfect conditions.
  • Use smaller tasks like organizing and filing to get you started but don’t use them to procrastinate.
  • Take breaks to refresh yourself and mull over what you’ve been reading.
  • If you’re stuck go for a walk, do some menial chores to give your brain a rest and time to sort out the problem.
  • Sometimes fresh eyes are better than slaving away, and quicker too.



Information Literacy, more than just skills. September 24, 2012

Teacher librarians are faced with a massive amount of information in both print and digital form and how to provide access to, and understanding of, for their students. Information literacy is an essential skill for success in the twenty-first century’s digital information explosion. This reflection will outline why information literacy is more than a set of skills, not merely isolated tasks, but a much more complex process.

Information literacy is a process as seen in the models of Kuhlthau’s Information Skills Process, Herring’s PLUS model, the Big 6, and the NSW DET’s ISP model. Yet the process of finding information becomes more than a group of skills when students reflect upon their journey. It is the act of reflection that takes students from merely information receptacles to forming their own reflective practise and developing a new type of literacy able to be used across many disciplines (Herring, 2011). Each widely used model of information literacy uses an evaluative phase: the Big 6 evaluation, ISP assessment, NSW DET assessing, and PLUS model self-evaluation (Herring, 2011). It is in this phase that the skills of guided inquiry become a process for learning and where the teacher librarian can support learners by providing practises such as evaluation sheets, facilitating reflective blog posts or discussions with records of group observations at the end of units of work training students in reflection.

Information literacy is not merely a set of skills as it also includes the behaviour involved in the research, taking into consideration the emotive aspects underpinning the process of inquiry. Information research behaviour is as important as the skills used in the process of finding the information. Kuhlthau’s ISP model was instrumental in identifying the behavioural elements of the research process and linking them to the recognition of a holistic approach to finding information. The central concept of uncertainty, rather than information seeking equalling more certainty, paints a constructivist picture of the process (Kuhlthau, 2008). Intervention at the point of need is the “area in which an information user can do with advice and assistance what he or she cannot do alone or can do only with difficulty” (Kuhlthau, 2008). The teacher librarian can directly support students to continue with their research in this phase through scaffolds, questioning techniques, recalling strategies and discussions about searching.

Information literacy is using the skills of inquiry and applying them in relevant situations that have real meaning for students (Eisenberg, 2008; Kuhlthau, 2008; Rutherford, et al., 2006). This means that information literacy in the school context needs to be linked to outcomes significant to students to develop meaning. Student learning outcomes are greatly increased when this approach is taken (Sizemore & Marcum, 2008). Their ability to construct meaning from their methods of research and display their knowledge in real world applications create better literacy outcomes. As a teacher librarian this is where creating significant tasks using tools such as blogs, wikis, online book reviews, podcasts or group presentations to peers supports this type of learning. Being a creative twenty-first century librarian embracing all the available tools is essential (Gordon, 2009).

Information literacy goes beyond the library into the classroom as well as beyond the students’ stage of learning towards a lifetime of learning, therefore collaboration with school staff is essential in developing an effective information literacy program (Herring, 2011).  The practical implications of information literacy point to the librarian as a vital motivator, instructor and collaborator. Collaboration between principals, teachers, students and the school librarian is one of the most useful ways of running a successful information literacy program (Herring, 2011). The role of the teacher librarian is to effectively collaborate with staff to create an information literacy program which goes beyond the library by co-planning units of work, creating pathfinders to support classroom subjects, in-servicing colleagues on new areas of technology and participating in whole school planning committees.

Information literacy is a type of literacy which is still undergoing scrutiny as to its definition. Even so, the implications for a twenty-first century teacher librarian are to continue to remain pivotal in teaching students to see it as a developing process in their search for information throughout their lives. Information literacy is more than a set of skills for finding information it is an emotive, physical and practical way of interpreting information.




Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age. [Article]. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Genuis, S. K. (2007). Kuhlthau’s Classic Research on the Information Search Process (ISP) Provides Evidence for Information Seeking as a Constructivist Process. Evidenced Based Library and information Practice, 2(4).

Gordon, C. A. (2009). An Emerging Theory for Evidence Based Information Literacy Instruction in School Libraries, Part 1: Building a Foundation. [Article]. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 4(2), 56-77.

Herring, J. (2011). Improving students web use and information literacy, a guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet publishing.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2008). From Information to Meaning: Confronting Challenges of the Twenty-first Century. [Article]. Libri: International Journal of Libraries & Information Services, 58(2), 66-73.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Heinstrom, J., & Todd, R. J. (2008). The ‘information search process’ revisited: is the model still useful? [Article]. Information Research, 13(4), 45-45.

Rutherford, S., Alix Hayden, K., & Pival, P. R. (2006). WISPR (Workshop on the Information Search Process for Research) in the Library. [Article]. Journal of Library Administration, 45(3/4), 427-443. doi: 10.1300/J111v45n03ñ08

Schroeder, R., & Cahoy, E. S. (2010). Valuing Information Literacy: Affective Learning and the ACRL Standards. [Article]. portal: Libraries & the Academy, 10(2), 127-146.


Todd, R. J. (2006). From information to knowledge: charting and measuring changes in students’ knowledge of a curriculum topic. [Article]. Information Research, 11(4), 6-6.


Information services to staff and students September 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 1:52 am
Tags: , ,

The determining factor here is the use of the library: purpose. The library I have been relieving in is immaculate and the teacher librarian is well respected across the school. The library caters for many areas of information service needs. There has been a huge book week, a book fair and three author visits so far in 2012. The displays in the library are creative, relevant and always changing.

What constitutes a good information service also is influenced by how it is interpreted, what is focused upon.

The library is sorely lacking in ICT resources. The non-fiction section is undergoing a complete overhaul. Air conditioning was finally installed after 5 years. It is possible the librarian can only do so much and each area takes time and energy to effect change.

LIS for staff

Providing information services

Key factors:

  • Resources existing in the library – print and digital
  • Curriculum needs – staff ability to use resources/ level of support required
  • Student needs/ abilities  – could be linked to the school focus area re. 3-year management plan

Valenza commentary on wikis and pathfinders. Valenza outlines clear advantages, some of the most compelling are:

  • Uploading documents –  useful for planning and assessment
  • Model students work creating a shared workspace
  • More user friendly for students – Ad-free, easy to link to other resources, ease of use of images to assist visual learners
  • Collaborative allowing the teacher and librarian to build the pathfinder together
  • Organic and user friendly therefore time friendly for busy tls
  • A vehicle for use of Web 2.0 tools

A reference interview: A reference interview is a conversation, in person, digital or by phone, between a librarian and a client to determine the person’s exact information needs.

LIS for Students

Key areas of the information service (in order of importance)

  1. Providing resources directly suited to the needs of the students in the school community
  2. Promotion of the library as a place for students. Promote access to all of the library’s resources through different means, eg:
  • promote reading by allowing students to come to read for pleasure
  • develop citizenship, ownership and leadership with library monitors
  • take time to blog and encourage children to reply/ comment
  1. Make ICT available and allocate time and reasons for its use
  2. Assist students in developing habits for accessing information by providing guidance and resources eg concept maps
  3. The organisation, storage and access to resources to allow the library to be a user-friendly place

Community profile

Physical environment:

  • Incorporate learning aids for students eg larger screens on computers
  • Correctly sized furniture and number of chairs. Catering for student sizes ages 5 to 12 years.
  • Wheelchair friendly


  • Supporting reading development with books catering to the levels of student ability whilst recognising their interests and social considerations
  • Use of and access to ICT at home
  • Use of digital technology


  • Determine specific focus areas for collection development eg Aboriginal resources, texts in other languages
  • Specific student interests


  • Attitudes to learning in the community determining library use
  • Staff needs
  • Teaching allocation of tl


  • Curriculum trends
  • Use of library by staff

ISP in the library

  1. Prominent posters on:
  • the ISP used at the school
  • location of library resources
  • key words for common topics
  • useful search engines
  1. Proformas of:
  • concept maps
  • explosion charts
  • question prompts
  • key words
  • lists of references
  1. Online resources:
  • Library catalogue
  • Library website – links to search tools


Charles Sturt University (CSU) (2012). ). Information services and resource creation: The reference interview [ETL501 Module Topic 7]. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from Charles Sturt University website:

Herring, J. (2011) Information literacy, in Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians, pp. 61-76. London: Facet Publishing.

Janes, J. (2008). An informal history (and possible future) of digital reference. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

National Library of New Zealand (n.d.). School community profile. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

Valenza, J. (n.d.). Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

Wilmington High School (n.d.). School and community profile. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from


The role of the teacher librarian with regard to constructivist learning and the Australian curriculum. September 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 10:31 am
Tags: ,

The way we teach as teacher librarians is facing change as much as libraries themselves. Social constructivism has grown out of the need to leave outdated behaviourist models behind and teach students to be actively involved in their own learning paths. Social constructivism has been defined as the ability of an individual to take an active part in their learning and as a result build upon prior knowledge, understanding and skills (Pritchard, 2008, p17). Herring states, “social constructivism takes the view that learners are not merely receptacles of knowledge passed on by a teacher, but are conscious constructors of knowledge.” (Herring, 2011, p5)

So what is a teacher librarian’s role to play in social constructivist teaching methods? Teacher librarians need to develop information literacy skills in our students and with information now accessible in both print and digital form not only finding it is a skill, deciphering it is also one. Herring says “If we view students as constructing their own knowledge and building upon prior knowledge, then this will have an influence on how students will be encouraged to use information literacy skills.” (2011, p6). Giving students the road maps to navigate the amount of information and then understand it is the focus. Scaffolding is the process of giving support to students at the appropriate time and at the appropriate level to meet their needs, a vital role for the teacher librarian (Pritchard, 2008, p24).

A constructivist library looks like a place where young people would be comfortable. It houses books, magazines, e-readers, computers, tablets, digital cameras, and Smartboards. It has comfortable reading lounges, computer workstations, small and large desks for groups to sit at. You can see students working together, teachers working with students and teachers collaborating. The teacher librarian engages groups in conversation in order to support the development of understanding. The visual displays are drawn, hand written, printed on a colour printer, computer generated, or are photographs and moving images. It looks organised with concept maps and proformas to aid in guided inquiry and construction of research skills (Pritchard, 2009, p24). To do this teacher librarians need to change the traditional idea of a library as a storage room for books to a more constructivist “learning space” (Hamilton, 2011, p35).

A constructivist library sounds like a buzz of activity. It is not silent and peaceful. It is full of the sounds of people talking together to construct meaning as this dialogue is the main vehicle for ideas (Pritchard, 2008, p24). It is a place where you can hear students tell others what they already know in order to go beyond to learn more. You can hear the librarian because they have the important task “of stimulating dialogue and maintaining its momentum” (Pritchard, 2008, p24). Successful twenty-first century librarians like Buffy Hamilton have “been able to engage students in conversations for learning and greater participation” (Hamilton, 2011, p35).

A constructivist library makes students feel like their learning is authentic. Here the teacher librarian can create real world tasks for students by using Web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis, or social media to discuss books and review novels. “Students deepen their understanding of information by participating in inquiry circles, small groups or mini learning communities” (Hamilton, 2011, p37). It feels supportive, with lessons focused on scaffolding which may be discussions, practical tasks, design tasks, lists or writing frameworks (Pritchard, 2008, p25). “Everything about the constructivist approach to learning, in a simple and practical way, points towards the importance of learners getting as close to the material content of what it is hoped they will learn as possible and then ‘doing’ something with it.” (Pritchard, 2008, p29). It feels like students are part of their own learning journey by being able to reflect upon their tasks with each other and their teacher.

Therefore the role of the teacher librarian is to put the students into the “zone of proximal development” (Pritchard, 2008, p25) by creating a library to facilitate constructivist learning, a “shared environment that is learning centred, focused on scaffolding students’ ability to read, write and create content through social interaction in physical and virtual learning spaces while using multiple forms of media” (Hamilton, 2011, p35).


Herring, J. (2011), Improving students’ web use and information literacy: a guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London, Facet Publishing.

Pritchard, A. (2008), Ways of learning; learning theories and learning styles in the classroom. David Fulton.

Hamilton, B. (2011) The school librarian as teacher: What kind of teacher are you? Knowledge Quest. 39(5), pp 34-40.


Tashi display

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 5:15 am

A gorgeous display from the library I’m relieving in.


Web 2.0 tools September 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — liane23 @ 1:22 am
Tags: , ,

The key aspects of Web 2.0 tools are blogs, wikis, social bookmarking and all those applications which allow the internet user to now be a creator. Moving from static Web 1.0 tools of websites you go looking for to satisfy your information needs, Web 2.0 tools offer easy ways for anyone to post content for others to not only read, but comment on and add to.

As a teacher or teacher librarian you can hardly afford to ignore the Web 2.0 tools, in fact they are a new and exciting way to enhance learning. The use of them is only limited by our imagination (Herring, 2011, p52) and I would agree. The trick is in understanding their application and keeping on top of technology to be able to use it effectively in the classroom or library. In a constructivist classroom students can construct knowledge through web searches and can apply, synthesise and evaluate that knowledge in a blog or wiki.

I like the idea of using a blog to share lesson plans and great resources because I love it when someone shows me something I can use right away.

Other ways to blog could be:

  • setting up a library newsletter
  • students individual blogging sites linked to the school’s
  • class journal publication
  • sharing of lesson plans and evaluations

I have a class currently doing some research on natural disasters and extreme weather. They actually suggested the idea to me of creating a wiki although none of us know how or quite what it’s all about. I would be prepared to “look a little stupid” in order to learn together how to create one.

  • More meaningful for them to have it as an end product for their learning.
  • Have a purpose for the project eg. To investigate the world’s worst natural disasters (history), describe the factors (environmental and human) contributing to their impact, discuss and design early warning systems for future use, identify potentially dangerous weather patterns which could affect them in their lifetime.
  • Accessing the wiki from anywhere (ie. at home, another classroom) makes it so useful.
  • Story writing feature is great because it means other people can read kids stories.
  • Real-world application where they need to have used editing skills before and after publishing and have a good sense of their reader.
  • Tracking of student activity would be good for assessment and the blogging seems well suited to even younger primary students.
  • Great for developing literacy skills in a digital context right from kindergarten.

Social bookmarking:            I signed straight up to Delicious (having already tried in ETL401 but not quite getting there!).

  • Saves trying to organize the bookmarks on your toolbar and not having space or effective folders.
  • It saves wasting so much time with kids looking at irrelevant sites (or playing ‘cool maths games’ while they think you’re not looking).
  • It’s the same as providing a text or resources for a topic. You can view it as a digital pile of books/ notes. It narrows it down for the students and points them in the right direction.

As with any new technology staying one step ahead takes time, learning and persistence. Yet the application of Web 2.0 tools is really open ended and some schools are already doing some fabulous things on their wikis and blogs. Embedding this into your program requires collaboration across the staff but is worth the effort as we, as teacher librarians, are at the leading edge of information literacy skill development in the twenty-first century.


Dukic, D. (2007). Wikis in school libraries. Retrieved August 27, 2012 from

Herring, J. (2011) Web 2.0 and schools, in Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians, pp. 35-46. London: Facet Publishing.

O’Connell, J. (2010) Transforming learning. ED – Online. Retrieved August 28, 2012 from


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