Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes is a wise person. This saying reflects where I have finished the journey of ETL401 Teacher Librarianship. The subject has provided vision of new directions in education. In past blogs, I have referred to the position of the twentieth century librarian and the introduction of new technologies into the library and the change to the librarian’s role. ETL401 has expanded the role and possibilities of a Teacher Librarian. I am enthused, vitalised and excited about the prospects of working in a school library setting. I believe the library extends beyond four walls. A library has no boundaries. To be honest, I was naive in my view of the role of a teacher librarian and should have, in hindsight, researched the role a TL is expected to play in a forward thinking environment. Wong (2010) makes an excellent point regarding TL’s stating they “are skilled in accessing and evaluating information regardless of delivery system, book or computer, and providing leadership in the appropriate use of newer information technologies.” Herring (2007) also made a very valuable point about the role of the library in that it should be seen as a centre of learning first and a centre of resources second.
From that, the TL is then well placed to educate the twenty-first century student in providing lifelong learning skills towards information literacy through a guided inquiry process.
To the uninitiated, this may seem puzzling statement. Lifelong learning is a positive concept which all educators should be aiming for in their students. Information literacy is the ability to access, evaluate and use information from a variety of resources, to recognise when information is needed and to know how to learn (Doyle, 1996 in Langford, 1998). The information literate student can access, use and transfer information in their pursuit of lifelong learning. With access to many forms of information available, lifelong learning is possible. Learning need not end once a person has completed their formal education.
Underlying the concept of information literacy is a belief that made an incredible impact on me and about which I have written previously on this blog – the idea of the ethical use of information. Purcell (2010) made note of it in her article. Not only do we want students to use the information in the transfer of knowledge, we want them to use it wisely, with consideration and with the use it was intended. Herring and Tarter (2007) believe that students need to also understand that print does not always equate to truth.
There have been many light-bulb moments during ETL401. I have read on forums about the use of inquiry models within schools and some experiences. There have been mentions at different times of Web 2.0, the Cloud, Wikis, Blogs and on my own blog, an introduction by a reader of accessing Shelfari (a way of keeping track of books you have read). For each of these I have thought of a multitude of ways they could be introduced to students. The use of guided inquiry and the positive learning that come from these provides yet another reason to work in a library. Other minor findings include the discovery of the amount of reading material available relating to the role of the Teacher Librarian. There is endless information out there. What I have read and discovered is really the tip of the iceberg. If your interest is sparked, google the topic on Google Scholar (yet another finding from this course – I did not even know it existed!).
In topic 3 of ETL401, we were asked to watch a webinar on the teacher librarian and the curriculum by Judy O’Connell. The title has stayed with me – Lifesavers of Learning. What a wonderful way to describe the role of a TL. They can provide the information, resources and support for the school curriculum. They could provide all of that if they are supported by the school administrators, particularly the Principal. In looking at the obstacle a Principal may be in a TL reaching their potential, I came across some very good advice in research by Gustafson (2011) and Kaldenberg (2011): the TL needs to be proactive. Show the Principal and school what the TL can offer, share ideas, initiate collaboration, assist the Principal in using new technologies, introduce a workable, relevant guided inquiry model and educate the staff. Also, most importantly, be proud of all achievements and share them with whoever will listen.
In conclusion, my mind has been stretched in regard to the role of the teacher librarian and it will never, ever regain its original dimension. What a wonderful learning journey ETL401 has been.
Gustafson, K. (2011). A Dozen Ways the School Librarian Can Help Administrators Find Time. School Library Monthly, 27(5), 36-38. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
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
Herring J. & Tarter, A. (2007). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, 23-27.
Kaldenberg, K. (2011). Go, Set, Ready: Collaborative Relationships for 21st Century Learning. Teacher Librarian, 38(4), 44-47. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: A Clarification. From School Libraries Worldwide, Volume 4, Number 1, 1998, 59-72.
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. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Wong, G. W. (2010). Facilitating Students' Intellectual Growth in Information Literacy Teaching. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(2), 114-118. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
On a lighter note and for those who read this blog to follow what I’m reading, I have had on my bedside for a week The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory. I can now pick this up and enjoy it without the study pressures that having been invading my every moment and thought. I’m looking forward to starting the book once I have pressed “Post” on this blog. The Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell which I mentioned last time was incredibly graphic in its depictions of war in the 18th Century. I am now on the lookout for the second book in this series and hope there was some peace in the land (as if). Finally, a special note of thanks to Joan Amiet, a wonderful teacher librarian who cares greatly about books and introducing children to the joys of literature. She has supplied a long list of cat books. I will be posting their titles in my next blog.