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



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
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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.


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