The Melbourne Study Visit highlighted the diversity and richness of library and information agencies and emphasised the variety of opportunities available to us as students of Information Services. As a student who has only worked in school libraries, I found it extremely valuable to experience a broad range of library services and clientele and to listen to librarians talk about the challenges and rewards of working in this profession. I learned that across the sector there are many common challenges being faced by library and information agencies. Most organisations are finding it necessary to develop strategies to market and advocate the value of their role & services, many are struggling with funding and managerial support. This is very pertinent for those working in schools and it was helpful to see how others were handling these issues, adapting to change and working to improve communication, foster collaboration and form closer relationships with stakeholders and users. It was a great opportunity to meet other students, to talk about our experiences and ponder our future roles in the profession. I am reminded of the importance of connection and collaboration and intend, once my studies are complete, to keep the connections going through listservs, social media groups, association memberships and attendance of professional conferences. The learning that comes from these experiences is invaluable.
After spending (what seems like days) reading about the many, multifaceted roles of the Teacher Librarian, I can only agree with the statement that effective implementation of the TL role (or any one aspect of the role) cannot be performed without the support of others and that “Differing perceptions between librarians, principals, and teachers about the role of the school library media specialist can be a significant barrier to implementing change” (Purcell, 2010).
How is it possible to perform any number of the following roles : teacher leader, technologist, collaborator (Lamb & Johnson, 2008); leader, information specialist, teacher, program administrator, instructional partner (Purcell, 2010); librarian, teacher, information services manager, information literacy leader, curriculum leader, information specialist, instructional partner, website developer, budget manager, staff manager (Herring, 2007) if you: are only employed part time, are not a qualified TL, have no administrative support, have no regular PD, have little RFF, are not included in curriculum development/planning, not available to attend staff meetings or are given a limited budget? From my own experience and from reading many of the forum comments, I can only surmise that the aforementioned “barriers” are a result of principals, school board members, heads of learning, parents and teachers not knowing or understanding the multifaceted role of the teacher librarian.
It has become startlingly apparent that advocacy, leadership and evidence based practice are key to getting the message out there.
Feeling quite overwhelmed and pondering the long road ahead.
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., & Johnson, L. (2004-2010). The school library media specialist. In Library media program: accountability. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/accountability.html
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.