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Initial Thoughts About Teacher Librarianship

July 16, 2010

In my limited* experience, at many schools library lessons are merely ‘borrowing and story time’ sessions, especially for Years K-2.  Often with only half an hour per. week, it’s not surprising that that’s all there’s time for.

At other schools, Years 3-6 might occasionally complete research for in-class projects during library time.  More often than not, though, ‘Library’ tends to be RFF time for classroom teachers and subsequently there seems to be little communication between the librarian and teacher about what might be achieved in a library lesson.  I guess that’s the ‘old’ model of school libraries – a private domain of the librarian which students get sent off to once a week (by a thankful teacher, with a sigh of relief).

So, school library lessons I have observed and experienced consist of:

  1. Mostly – returning/borrowing books     and     story time – usually books that are on the Premier’s Reading Challenge List
  2. Sometimes – research on specific topics – usually Science & Tech. and HSIE
  3. Rarely – author/new release studies (usually associated with Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards short-listed titles)

I’m also aware that approximately 20% of a school librarian’s time is/should be devoted to ‘administration’.  When all the books are re-shelved, resources organised, new stock received and prepared for display, stock-takes done and various reports generated, there doesn’t seem to be much time left for strategic planning.

There doesn’t seem to be a central point where the NSW DET describes the duties of and policies relating to teacher librarians. I found various sources of relevant information (see below).

HANDBOOK FOR SCHOOL LIBRARIES (1996) NSW DEPARTMENT OF SCHOOL EDUCATION © 2006 Curriculum K–12 Directorate, NSW Department of Education and Training. ( Republished online 2006) – Available via. NSW DET Intranet

There are also some particular references to teacher librarians in the NSW DET Teachers Handbook, which can be found at:

Is it my imagination, or is all this a little ‘cobbled-together’?  Maybe it’s a good thing, allowing teacher librarians some leeway to create a multitude of roles that are optimal for each of the school communities they work in.

What I’m most excited about is what a teacher librarian might be.  It really seems to be a job that the incumbent can ‘make theirs’, but is also an inherently collaborative position when done well.  I have lots of ideas of my own, but I am itching to discover what others are achieving in areas I haven’t even thought of!

(*I am a primary teacher who qualified late 2008, with 175 days of casual teaching ‘under my belt’, across all grades, at 6 different schools).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2010 6:00 am

    I have no experience at all in a school environment so this is a welcome insight from a novice with perhaps big ideas.

    I’ve scanned TL roles and policies and all the huff and puff about really comes down to lack of funding. Everyone has their own agenda.

    Coming from a commercial point of view, if you want someone to give you more money you have to show your investor that you’re best at what you do.

    Good luck with your studies for this session. It sounds like you’re going to do very well. Why are you studying librarianship if you’re a primary teacher already?

    • July 17, 2010 10:12 am

      Thanks for your comment Karina – my first one! I agree with all you say, especially,

      ” … if you want someone to give you more money you have to show your investor that you’re best at what you do.”

      This reminds me of something I read recently (I wish I could remember where) – that the best performing schools in NAPLAN testing have dynamic libraries. So, if school librarians can’t appeal to the various Departments of Education for funding, maybe they can rely on ‘parent-power’ to help them get what they need!

      My reasons for studying teacher librarianship are a little convoluted. Like many other recently-qualified casual teachers, I scan the NSW DET advertised positions every week. I noticed that some of the only permanent positions advertised that didn’t require a singing, dancing, sporting, IT specialist teacher of many years experience who had successfully implemented scores of programmes etc. etc. were the teacher librarian positions. Then the penny dropped! I could do that! I loved books, writing, media, kids and was up for the IT challenges. Then I noticed that priority for these positions would be given to those with suitable qualifications. (What could be more ‘suitable’ than a Masters from CSU?) That’s more or less how I found myself here. Already thinking I might be in the right place!

      Best of luck to you as well and thanks again,

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