Sunday, May 22, 2011

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. Will Durant


Initial readings on the role of the teacher librarian (TL) exploded the romantic personally-held perceptions of the traditional TL. Herring (2007 & 2005) Purcell (2010) Eisenberg (2006) Oberg (2002) drew out the many facets involved with the role and highlighted the constantly changing technology-driven context has caused some to question the continued relevance of the profession. Seth Godin’s blog (2011) claims that “When kids go to the mall instead of the library, it's not that the mall won, it's that the library lost.". This had to led to learning that the profession needs to at all times remain “relevant, friendly and easy to use” (Schmidmaier 2007) and that the foundations upon which librarian professional practice is currently being hotly contested has come as a surprise. Being a librarian is not a conservative profession but a cutting-edge one. Struggles with a clearly defined role (March 17 blog entry) has given way to a working definition which will continue to evolve as the profession does.

Rick Susman (2011), contentiously states the role for the TL in the current context "there isn't one ... unless they create one." This seems to be a deliberately provocative and unsettling statement which certain creates seismic shifts in what has been a traditional view of libraries and those who work in them. Grasping the impact of such a statement suggests to this learner TL that as many suggest [Johnson (2008), Bush & Kwielford (2001),Martin (2007) – being an advocate, proactive professional that debunks traditional perceptions of the role is essential.

Even the very act of studying within this new context has brought the complex and intertwined role(s) of the TL into sharper focus. Previous undertakings of tertiary studies (last century) involved a much more limited Personal Learning Network (PLN) that could not harness the potential of the web 2.0 applications. The concept of PLN in the 21st century (Buchanan, 2010), has opened up a world of exciting new tools to access and gather information and create knowledge.

One of the strengths of undertaking ETL401 is the compelling of the learner to adopt new technologies: Social bookmarking such as to aid organisation of websites, articles and ideas. Blogs which provide a platform to distil and collate the information and share with others. Forums are an excellent place to collaboratively learn (personally need to post more rather than observe to utilise its full potential) . Accessing and viewing vodcasts from experts all over the world make learning more flexible and dynamic, so too are the possibilities of using social networking applications such the NSW DET’s Yammer, Facebook, and Twitter. All of the above impacts on the role of the TL. As Schmidmaier (2007) advocates TLs need to be open and flexible to ensure that libraries “supports the specific curriculum needs AND is a place for exploration of ideas and innovation”. Learning to be a learner in the current milieu has enhanced my understanding of the wonderful possibilities of web 2.o which could and should be harnessed in a library today. (Possibilities shown in “Beyond the Blackboard” blog entry March 27, 2011) Hopefully it will be a strength in the future, fledging skills in the use of web 2.0 means they are currently a weakness, not being applied or used effectively within the library or my learning.

Working definition and goals for the future –

what kind of TL do I want to be?

TLs need to be and often are, many things to many people. They connect people with information and act as a guide and facilitator the access to the information and books they need; equip the library users with the best strategies for their searching for the information. TLs should be locksmiths (not gatekeepers) to open the doors to the worlds of knowledge and creation, but the role always changes in response to the shifting landscape. The modern TL needs to be innovative, enthusiastic, passionate, flexible and open to new ideas in order to be that great proactive advocate for their library and role; to overcome any resistance to collaboration and ensure that the understanding of their role is fully understood by others and not positioned by misconception.

(750 words without references or heading)


Buchanan, Ruth. (2010) August 13, 2010, PLN: Building your personal network presentation, Retrieved from

Bush, G., & Kwielford, M. (2001). Marketing Reflections: Advocacy in action. Teacher Librarian, 28(5), 8. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Eisenberg, Michael. (2006). Three roles for the 21st Century Teacher-Librarian, In CSLA Journal. 29(2), 21-23.

Godin, Seth (2011). The future of the library, IN Seth Godin's Blog Retrieved May 22, 2001

Herring, James. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In Ferguson, S. (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.

Herring, James. (2005). The end of the teacher-librarian. Teacher Librarian 33(1), 26-29.

Johnson, D. (2008). Change from the radical center of education. Teacher Librarian, 35(5),14-19, Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Martin, A. (2007). The evolution of the librarian as advocate: are advocates born or developed? In Knowledge Quest, 36(1), 16-19. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Oberg, Dianne. (2002). Looking for evidence Do School libraries improve student achievement? In School Libraries Canada, 22(2), 10-13 & 44.

Purcell, Melissa. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the role of school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

Schmidmaier, Dagmar. (2007) Retrieved March 5 2011 from

Susman, Rick. (2011). Libraries setting the agenda for research. In The Booklegger Library Specialist, 1-4, Box Hill, Vic : The Booklegger.

No comments:

Post a Comment