The creation of a library collection policy initiated a professional discussion that reinforced in my mind the complexities of the role of a teacher librarian. The TL needs to maintain relationships with both technology and people (Winzenried, 2010 p15). Much of the accumulated ‘teacher’ expertise that one brings to the role is only evident when suitable resources are connected to a particular teaching-learning context at just the right time. To ensure that ‘connecting’ ability continues to be valued, the TL needs to know the clients, the curriculum and the collection well. Schools are dynamic places with ever-changing personnel and networks of connections to the world of information (Zagami & Finger, 2010. p201). So too, is the information environment where the school librarian continually evaluates the collection against criteria – determining the relevance and usefulness of each resource – whether accessed physically or electronically.
By closely considering the attributes of an effective school library collection policy, I am increasingly certain that the development of a collection needs to be carried out by a qualified TL (Winzenried, 2010 p197). One who is willing to continually refine their own learning network and skills in order to support and advance their colleagues and the worth of the Library Resource Centre. That TL should be proactive in identifying and then supporting and guiding their client community toward improved individual and collaborative learning processes (Berger, 2007, p124). Within their role as the resource manager, that TL needs to take the lead in articulating the LRC goals as they support the mission of the whole school.
Hughes (2011, p130) suggests: ‘There is now a massive amount of research which demonstrates the power of school libraries, appropriately supported by staffing and facilities, to enhance learning opportunities.’ He goes on to say that this is even more significant for students whose access to ‘learning opportunities’ at home is limited. Each teacher in the school has the power to influence others – the TL however, is in a unique position to form relationships and build trust between all students, colleagues and the ‘collection’ to then positively influence learning for the benefit of all in the community.
The lists of criteria associated with resource selection, acquisition and then de-selection; the techniques used to evaluate the collection – were more extensive and complex than I had previously realised. The cyclic nature of these processes referred to by Kachel (1997, p9) needs to be constant – to ensure the effectiveness of the LRC. It became apparent that a TL needs great moral strength to act as an advocate for each member of your client community in order to achieve a balance of resources to be shared by all. The many facets involved in effectively managing the resources of the LRC to meet the needs of the learning community (students and staff) and the curriculum – require continual reflection. Rather than operating in isolation, I see the necessity to reflect within a team to continually evaluate the relevance of the collection.
I can conclude that an effective TL needs to be a reflective educator – committed to continually improving their practice by developing their awareness of themselves and others in their context, reflecting and taking action built on inquiry and thought, using all the resources at their disposal (Harada, 2010 p25; Haycock, 2010 p11; Yukawa, Harada and Suthers, 2007 p179).
Berger, P. (2007) Literacy and Learning in a Digital World. In Hughes-Hassell, S. & Harada, V. (Ed) School Reform and the School Library Media Specialist Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Haycock, K. (2010). Leading from the Middle: Building Influence for Change. In Coatney, S. (Ed) The Many Faces of School Library Leadership. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited.
Harada, V. (2010). Librarians as Learning Leaders: Cultivating Cultures of Inquiry. In Coatney, S. (Ed) The Many Faces of School Library Leadership. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited.
Hughes, P. (2011). Education revolution – a place for the school library? In Winzenried, A. Visionary leaders for information. Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Kachel, D. E. (1997). Collection assessment and management for school libraries: Preparing for cooperative collection development. Westport, Conn: Greenwood.
Toor, R. & Weisburg, H. (2011). Being Indispensible: A School Librarian’s Guide to Becoming an Invaluable Leader. Chicago: American Library Association.
Winzenried, A. (2010). [et al]. Visionary leaders for information. Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Yukawa, J., Harada, V. & Suthers, D. (2007). Professional Development in Communities of Practice. In Hughes-Hassell, S. & Harada, V. (Ed) School Reform and the School Library Media Specialist Westport. Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Zagami, J. & Finger, G. (2010). Teaching and learning opportunities: Possibilities and practical ideas. In Lee, M. & Finger, G. (Eds). Developing a Networked School Community: a guide to realizing the vision. Camberwell, VIC.: ACER Press.
Images: From personal collection : Careyque2