Possibilities for teacher and teacher librarian collaboration

Teacher Librarians who can work collaboratively with teachers in a teaching team can help make successful learning activities in the school. Despite schools still being inundated with “inertial bureaucracy” (Fullan, 1999, p. 31), which is a very depressing feature of the education system, teaching staff who can collaborate have a happier, more positive learning environment for students. Louis and Kruse (1995) in Fullan, 1999, p. 31) state that they have evidence that measured a better performance in several subject areas.

Todd (2008) states that the concept of collaboration of teachers and teacher librarians is not new and it is part of the practice of the teacher librarian. Many of the criteria in an TL applications state that the TL should be able to collaborate with teachers to implement information literacy programs which will produce positive learning outcomes for students (Todd, 2008) and (Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), (2004).

Kahn & Valence (2012) describe a collaborative set of lessons to produce a social studies paper, where the teacher librarian and English teachers worked together to teach students how to write a research paper. The English teachers helped students devise good questions and the teacher librarian helped the students find accurate reliable information and also how to create citations. The use of a pathfinder enabled to student to stay focussed and start to study their subject in more depth. Kahn & Valence (2012) describe the further steps that the students took to turn in a very successful paper. They also describe other activities that older students could do to help with their studies and make videos and wikis of research activities that could be revisited at any time.

I think that the production of videos by students and media teachers would be a good idea for my senior secondary students as it would reinforce lessons that I have taught them in the library. It would also provide a basis for them in future studies. Subject based wikis produced by librarian, IT teachers and subject teachers would also be a useful to put in the good sources of information, and perhaps, which sources not to use and why. I have also just discovered Google Lit Trips which would be a great way to bring Literature to life (Colorado State Library, 2011). It would involve collaboration between library staff  and teaching staff and initiate the projects for the students.

Hammond & Barnabei (2013) describe how their flipped classroom works in the Vocational Education sector, where homework entails watching instructional videos that are supplied by teachers and teacher librarian/technology integrator and the majority of classroom time is spent doing the practical activities. This has taken collaboration to a different level where TL support is provided in the forms of apps, the Apple environment and videos which support real-world projects.

Todd ( 2008) states that instructional collaborations do not happen by chance and that the lessons must be planned well and must be flexible to meet realistic goals.


Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Colorado State Library. (2011, August 2). Highly Effective School Librarians Create Collaborative Culture. Retrieved September 22, 2013, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-Kaz6LXu30

Fullan, M. (1999). Deep meaning of inside collaboration. In Change forces : the sequel (pp. 31-41). London : Falmer Press.

Hammond, J. K., & Barnabei, C. (2013). Reinventing ourselves in the digital age. Library Media Connection, 31(6), 14-16.

Kahn, E., & Valence, L. (2012). Collaboration is the key to successful research. Library Media Connection. (March/April), 40-42.

Todd, R. J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations. Scan, 27(2), 19-28.

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Assessing information literacy and inquiry learning

Information literacy or information fluency is the ability to access, makes sense of and use information to build understanding in personal and academic learning situations (Stripling, 2007). Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning (Kuhlthau, Caspari & Maniotes, 2007).
Diagnostic assessments or pretesting of student’s ability provides a base from which more information can be added to as required. Stripling (2007) provides several examples of this which can be used from primary school to secondary school. The information can be used to design lessons that build on what students already know.
Formative assessment measures the knowledge and skills acquired during the learning process. This enables adjustments to be made to maximise the students learning. The assessment methods may include conferences, observation and student journals indicates what has been learned and what hasn’t (Kuhlthau, Caspari & Maniotes, 2007).
The summative assessment or evaluation indicates what the student learned and achieved. One method of evaluation is by the use of rubrics. The holistic design will list certain characteristics, which when combined with represent a standard of excellence, often in dot points. The analytic design will include levels of performance and will be used to assess the processes and content specified within the criteria of the rubric (Brown, 2008). The rubrics may take time and effort but may well be more useful to student and teacher. The rubrics, taken over time, will indicate the development of the student’s learning.
Rubrics can be set on standards such as those by the American Association for School Librarians, or International Society for Technology in Education or standards set by your own country or state. The rubrics should focus on the process and the outcomes ( Brown, 2008). The depth of the evaluation will depend on whether analytic or holistic rubrics are used. Brown has examples of several rubrics available for very young researcher to secondary school researchers.
Other methods of evaluation include observation, performance, products and tests. SLIM, Student Learning though Inquiry Measure, was designed specifically for Guided inquiry.
Whatever method of assessment is used, Stripling (2007) suggests that there should be simple guidelines such as stating explicitly the information skills that student are expected to learn, defining clear criteria for successful application of information fluency skills, ensuring that the skill being taught are essential and integral to the assignments and will enable student to assess themselves.
Kuhlthau, Caspari & Maniotes, (2007), explained that, in a survey of teams of teacher and librarians using a guided inquiry method of teaching and assessing, they noted an improvement in the students’ learning. It was also noted that the learning was richer and deeper and more personalised.

Brown, C.A. (2008). Building rubrics: A step-by-step process, Library Media Connection, January, 16-18. Available http://www.linworth.com/pdf/lmc/reviews_and_articles/featured_articles/Brown_January2008.pdf
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Assessment in guided inquiry. In Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century (pp. 111-131). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing information fluency : Gathering evidence of student learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8), 25-29.

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The TL and the role in implementing a Guided Inquiry approach

Guided Inquiry is a style of inquiry based on the Information Search Process of questioning, exploring, collecting and presenting information. Although the process is complex and requires guidance form a teacher or teacher librarian to finally present ideas that can be shared with others, the student is in charge of the learning.

The role of the teacher librarian is one of collaboration with the subject teacher, to be a resource specialist and information literacy teacher (Kutlthau & Maniotes, 2010). The ultimate aim is to have students be able to carry out independent study from start to finish, but students learning this skill may not have the information literacy and other skills to do this (Kellow, 2006). The TL is in the position of providing the information literacy skills as well as helping to provide the resources for the study.

There are six stages of learning in the inquiry process including
• Initiation or opening the inquiry
• Selecting a general topic
• Exploring for background information and ideas
• Formulating a focus
• Collecting and analysing information
• And presenting or organising the information to be presented.
Kuhlthau & Maniotes (2010) have also added a seventh stage of Assessing or reflecting on the learning.

The TL and teacher must be aware that younger learners will not have the skills to search effectively for resources in books or on the internet. There will be much time wasting, so some sort of scaffolding must be provided. The topics should meet the curriculum standards and the abilities and interests of the students. The teacher librarian should be able to provide resources from the library or databases and teach and support the students to locate more information, evaluate the information to suit the topic and use the information.

The inquiry may be set up with all students working on a similar project or parts of the project to be put together at the end, or in my case a subject, Student Directed Inquiry (TQA,2013), where the students choses the topic of their interest and this is assessed as a final subject in Year 12. The teacher and librarian will need to have a basic knowledge of all subjects but will be able to support and direct the student to expand knowledge in a controlled and thoughtful manner.

The teacher and librarian should be able to teach and assess the student but notice when they need help. The teacher or librarian need to be aware that confusion and uncertainty will arise and the student will need direction to move from one stage to the next. Nicola’s reflections (Sheerman, Little & Breward, 2011) show that she went through stages of “confusion and desperation” from all the information that was available, but that the teachers and librarians guided her every step of the way, but she felt excitement and anticipation as she neared the final product and she found that it was the most “fulfilling piece of work ever completed”.

The outcome of the inquiry should be that the student will have a deep understanding of the topic, should be rewarding and form the basis of gathering and using information in all topics of research. The teacher and librarian should form a strong collaborative team to guide students in this information process.

Kellow, J.-M. (2006). Guided Inquiry. Retrieved 09/ 07/, 2013, from Inquiring Mind: http://www.inquiringmind.co.nz/Guided_Inquiry.htm

Kuhlthau, C. K. & Maniotes, L. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18.

Sheerman, A., Little, J., & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire…ILearn…iCreate..iShare : Guided Inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5

Tasmanian Qualification Authority (TQA). (2013, August 6). Student Directed Inquiry. Retrieved September 7, 2013, from http://www.tqa.tas.gov.au/4DCGI/_WWW_doc/184594/RND01/SDI315113Course_document.pdf


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Thoughts on evidence gathering, researching and being an advocate for school libraries

Since coming back into the area of teacher librarianship after several years of being only a teacher, I found that I lacked confidence in my researching skills and teaching them to students. To my surprise I found that I still had the ability but I needed a bit of polishing. I have found that the role of teacher librarian would benefit from having hard evidence that it is still a prized position in a school. In my role as a teacher, I have had to have evidence that I could teach in the VET area and jump through hoops to support the evidence. As a TL I have not had to do this, but I would find the evidence to be a confirmation that I mattered. Researching as a TL has given me a new angle to look at this position. Before I was just a teacher and just a librarian, but not combined. So, some thoughts and insights have developed from reading and research.

Kay and Alderman in Lonsdale (2003) state that many of the “teacher librarians have had to take on a subject teaching load that compromises their library responsibilities …and that there are also fewer strong advocates for school libraries:. Hartzell (1993) says that teachers tend to view librarians as support teachers rather that as fellow teachers and that librarians tend to be isolated and find it difficult to build relationships with other staff in the school.

All the above statements support the difficulties that Teacher librarians have in the school environment. But there is also a lot of evidence (mostly American) that supports having Teacher Librarians in a school that support and teach within the school curriculum. Oberg (2002)suggests that students whose librarians play an instructional role, either by finding materials or collaborating with teachers, tend to achieve higher average test scores.

Hay (2006) states in a study that was conducted in 2004/5, that student responses highlighted the appreciation of assistance by the teacher librarian in selecting appropriate resources and developing research skills both in the classroom and in the library.

Hay & Todd (2010) report that in their report of a moderated discussion blog, there was an overwhelming response that teacher librarians were definitely wanted in their school. It must also be noted that the majority of responders to this report were teacher librarians who had a vested interest in the report. In the report it was stated that there was “an assumption that the actions and processes undertaken by teacher librarians automatically imply positive learning outcomes”, but there was little or no documentation to support their case. Evidence collection was hampered by several constraints including lack of time by teachers to collaborate with TLs, lack of principal support and a culture not formally supporting evidence-based practice.

In Hay (2006) students appreciated the fact that TLs opened the libraries for extended hours, had access to good printers, could help with homework and assignments efficiently and it was safe place to learn and ask questions.

On reading  Abarbanel, et al., (2013), it is noted that that some school libraries are replacing TLs with technologists who can use digitals tools but cannot maintain library collections, and they are eliminating print collections, moving to a smaller areas and reducing  the budget. The impression is that the Internet has all the answers, but fortunately research disagrees with that statement. A school library can offer a space for research, collaboration, global connection as well as the place to do printing, borrow cameras and then manipulate the resulting photos and a multitude of other things, all under the watchful and helpful eye of the TL.

Abarbanel (2013) states that “school librarians provide the all-important human connection between students and information, as well as between teachers and information.”

And much more – an article well worth reading!!


Abarbanel, E., Davis, S., Hand, D., & Wittmer, M. (2013). The new school library. Independent School, 72(4), 68-74.

Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories? That’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 18.27.

Hay, L., & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: the conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42.

Lonsdale, M. (2003) Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement: A Review of the Research, [Report for the Australian School Library Association] Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence : do school libraries improve student achievement?, School Libraries in Canada, 22(2), 10- 14.

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Prioritising roles of TL

Herring (2007) advocates the 3 roles from ASLA being curriculum leader, information specialist and information manager. Other groups expand on these roles and include reference to web tools. Purcell (2010) suggests that school library media specialist assist learning with the increasing amounts of information that come in different forms. She also suggests that the media specialist roles are evolving in our changing times as we adapt to new technologies. Lamb (2011) also suggests that the roles of school media specialists are teachers, leaders and advocates for reading, inquiry and learning. The specialist should collaborate with teachers to design programs with best learning outcomes for student. Lamb indicates that media specialists must adjust attitudes, acquire new knowledge and update their skills to use the new tools and resources available. Valenza (2010) is a power house of ideas and it would take more than one year to attain her standards of media specialist.

To do all these things in my library with 1400 students, I would like to be there instead of 0.5. I’m finding that my position as VET teacher/librarian too much, taking lots of my “free” time and I’m not doing either job very well. It has also contributed to a much lesser “presence” in the library as Teacher Librarian. I have noted that the students are not using the databases that I worked so hard the year before to get them to use, there has also been less student instruction and collaboration with teachers. Collection development has also suffered, with less current resources available, though in fact, this is also due to budget cuts.


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

 Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.

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

Valenza, J. (2010, December 23). A revised manifesto. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from School library journal: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

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Are school librarians an endangered species?

After watching the 30 second thoughts on AASL website, school librarians are still needed to help guide students in navigating the ever increasing print and non-print media. The information will enable students to conduct research to answer questions, solve problems and analyse the vast amount of material that is out there. Student should have a place to feel secure and welcome to enable learning, be critical users of information and be good digital citizens. TL’s have the expertise to run programs to educate staff and students in information literacy. TL’s need to speak up to maintain their place in the school as an educational leader.


American Association of School Librarian (AASL). (2012, February). Are school librarians an endangered species? Retrieved July 24, 2013, from 30 second thought leadership: http://www.ala.org/aasl/knowledgequest/30second/JanFeb12

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Teacher Librarian role statement

My school did not give me a role statement but the application had a set of Primary Duties and Selection Criteria. My selection criteria did not have any reference to library knowledge and management, but I had to give evidence of my library and teaching qualifications as stated in ASLA’s Statement on teacher librarian qualifications and previous work history. My list of primary duties are only a one line statement. The roles provided in IASL, ASLA, SLASA and other give much more detail about how this should work.

My primary duties list – assist client with library resources and other information and research, liaise with teachers, organise and manage the library and its collection, conduct a user education program, assist in development of library policy and procedures, budget estimates and the annual report. It also lists, undertake teaching and teaching related duties.

Some of my duties compare favourably with ASLA’s standards 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.2 and 2.3, but other standards have been missed from my list of duties. The SLASA teacher librarian (TL) role (SLASA School Library Association of SA, 2008) is as detailed as ASLA’s, both promote literature, manage trained staff, provide leadership in the school, support students in finding information, evaluating and using the information. The IFLA statement suggests that the TL should be competent in planning and teaching different information handling skills to teachers and students. The IASL policy statement and other TL role statements advocate cooperation with teachers to develop curriculum, education activities and development of information skills. Knowledge of the curriculum, learning and teaching is common in all role statements.

Joyce Valenza (2010) is a most enthusiastic librarian, who has her finger on the latest ways of using a library. While all of this looks exciting and make learning fun, we can’t all have and use this technology because of budgets, technical support and our own level of learning, but I can see how this support many of the tasks in a TL’s role.

I will have to assume that many of the tasks in a TL’s role, according to the ALSA statement, are implied on my very small list of Primary Duties. I aspire to being a great TL, but realise that I have a lot to do to bring my library into the C21 and gain cooperation from my principal and staff.

Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2012, 12 10). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2012, 12 10). Statement on teacher librarian qualifications . Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/teacher-librarian-qualifications.aspx
International Association of School Librarianship (IASL). (2003, February 9). IASL Policy Statement on School Libraries. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.iasl-online.org/about/handbook/policysl.html
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2006, March 28). School Libraries and Resource Centers Section. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s11/pubs/manifest.htm
SLASA School Library Association of SA. (2008). SLASA TEacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html
Valenza, J. (2010, December 23). A revised manifesto. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from School library journal: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

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