The Role of the Teacher Librarian

#BLOG Task 1: The Role of the Teacher Librarian

The Role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) is a complex and dynamic one, and as such, if TL’s are to survive the twenty-first century, they must learn to evolve and adapt to the increasingly new technologies that are fast becoming part of the Educational Context.  The Library, once renowned for its wealth of books is no longer; it has been transformed and reinvigorated: an information media centre enabling students in the pursuit of lifelong learning. Thus, the role of the TL in this context is vital and “multifaceted” (Herring, 2007), overseeing both the operations of the library and library programs. Likewise, perceptions of TL’s are often limited to stereotypes, Osler, over one hundred years ago debunks this view, “The Librarian of today, and it will be the librarian of tomorrow, are not fiery dragons interposed between the people and the books. They are useful public servants, who manage libraries in the interest of the public…” The role of the TL in today’s contemporary world is so much more!

Defining and understanding the role of the TL can be difficult due to the numerous tasks that TL’s undertake. They are managers, administrators, information specialists, and teachers, and it is their qualification that explicitly defines their role; as having an integrated understanding of all key areas. As new pedagogies, resources and technologies emerge and are introduced, the nature of the tasks that the TL’s complete becomes increasingly complex ,“there is no textbook for what effective practice looks like in a continually morphing information and communication landscape” (ASLA).  TL’s should be equipped with the tools, and support to meet the demands of student learning and achievement.  However their role maybe defined, “differing perceptions between librarians, principals, and teachers about the roles of the school library media specialist can be a significant barrier to implementing changing.” (Purcell, 2010, p.33)

A co-contributing factor to the role of the TL, and the success and development of the library is the principal.  TL’s and library cannot be fully exploited without the support of the principal, and community. At the helm, “principals have a critical role in the implementation of change in schools.”(Oberg, 2006, p. 1)   For change to occur, principals need to support and actively engage with the TL and library, working directly and collaboratively with staff to plan and develop programs appropriate to the Educational Context. Within the Australian context, research has highlighted that principals, “expected their teacher-librarians to have a vision of future development of the library’s program and services and to have or develop the skills needed to be leaders in the school,” (Purcell, 2006, p.2) but this must be vision must be supported by the principal, and community, further providing the appropriate funding and professional development to launch TL’s into the twenty-first century.  Furthermore, “… school principals cannot expect levels of excellence from teacher librarians who are poorly supported in terms of finance, staffing or school policy.”(Herring, 2007, p.29)  The role of the TL and utilisation of the school library needs to have a whole school approach and vision. TL’s “must accept nothing less than their fundamental place in the schools” (Moorefield-Lang, 2012).

As I reflect on my teaching practice as a secondary teacher, having an open professional dialogue and working collaboratively with TL’s is essential to ensure effective Quality Teaching and Learning.  Herring states that, “school libraries exist within the school’s learning and teaching context and teacher librarians aid the development of the effective learning in school.” (2007, p.28) TL’s and library are vital teaching resources, bringing students to the “books and the tech” (Moorefield-Lang, 2012), not only in terms of meeting the curriculum and outcomes, but also in the invaluable multi-literacy skills that TL’s are able to equip students with to extend their learning. Additionally, TL’s and library continue to provide students with foundations of social etiquette enabling students to be ‘responsible citizens’ (Herring, 2007).

Teacher Librarians are, “more vital, needed and necessary than ever,” (Moorefield-Lang, 2012) and if they are to survive the twenty-first century, they must be visionaries, evolving and adapting to change. Their roles and expectations must be clearly defined and understood by the principal, and community.   TL’s provide an invaluable service and their place within schools is fundamental to ensure effective teaching and learning to impact student achievement.

A Final Note:

“But most of all, the library media specialist does not work alone. For a school to have a successful library media program it takes everyone (the library media specialist, teacher, administrators, and the library media staff) working together for the benefit of the students)” (Harvey II, 2009)

Lighting the way ahead!


Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information (ALIA). (2004) Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians.  Retrieved from

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library Information Association (ALIA). (2009) Statement on Teacher Library Qualifications Retrieved from

Harvey II, Carl A. (October, 2009). Hands on Handout: What should an Administrator expect a School Library Media Specialist to be?., Library Media Connection. Retrieved from

Herring, James. (2007). Teacher Librarian and the School Library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information (pp.27 – 42)

Moorefield-Land, Heather. American Association of School Libraries (AASL) 30 Second Leadership Thought: Insights From School Leaders in the School Library Community, [Audio Podcast] Retrieved from

Oberg, Dianne. (February, 2006). Developing Respect and Support of School Administrators, Teacher Librarian., (33).3 pp. 13-18

Purcell, Melissa. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School library Media Specialist: Library Media Connection. (Pp.30-33)

Valenza, Joyce. (Dec. 3, 2010).  A Revised Manifesto: Manifesto for 21st Century School Libraries Retrieved from


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Filed under ETL401 - Teacher Librarianship

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