Posted by: eheino | March 25, 2013

Blog Task 1: The Role of the Teacher Librarian in Practice with regard to Principal Support

Teacher Librarians have the capacity to fulfil a multitude of important roles within a school. It appears that principals, however, are generally unaware of the potential that their teacher librarian holds. Oberg (2006) suggests that this could be due to the low-profile teacher librarians were accorded in the educational literature principals were exposed to as students (p14). It is therefore up to the teacher librarian to ensure that their principal is aware of the importance of their role, and how big a difference they can make to student achievement. The clearest way in which teacher librarians positively affect student achievement is through collaboration with classroom teachers.

Research suggests there is potential for an increase of up to twenty percent in achievement for students whose teacher librarians partner with their classroom teachers (Haycock, 2007, p25). However, in order for collaboration to be successful, it is vital that the principal visibly supports it. Farmer (2007) suggests several ways that teacher librarians can draw principal attention to the importance of collaboration. First, provide evidence of the effectiveness of collaboration.  Then “provide opportunities for the principal to experience successful library program collaboration” (Farmer, 2007, p62). It is also important to gain principal commitment to the value of the program, and to thank them when consistent advocacy for library program collaboration is evidenced (Farmer, 2007, p62). Teacher Librarians need to be aware of potential opportunities for collaboration, and volunteer their services, not only in the classroom, but on school committees as well. Principals will not necessarily see these opportunities themselves. The more visible the teacher librarian becomes, the more likely it is that the principal will value their contribution to the school.

Purcell (2010) argues that despite considerable research evidence indicating the “positive impact of the media centre on a school’s success; many education professionals do not have a clear understanding of the [teacher librarian’s] role” (p. 31). This could be because of the vast number of roles that the teacher librarian is capable of fulfilling. Herring (2007) and Purcell (2010) agree that some of the most important of these roles are teacher, curriculum leader, and information specialist. Purcell (2010) also includes instructional partner and program administrator.  It is therefore the responsibility of the teacher librarian to define their matrix of roles (in a way reflecting the needs of the school) and provide evidence to their principal as to how they are fulfilling these roles. She also suggests completing a time study to present to the principal, demonstrating how and when different facets of their role are fulfilled (Purcell, 2010, p30). By doing this the principal will have a better understanding of the teacher librarian’s capabilities and will be better able to support them with resources of time and money.

Teacher librarians are very important members of the school community. Moving into the 21st century, it will become increasingly important that schools have a highly qualified teacher librarian on staff to “assist teachers and students in functioning in an increasingly complex world” (Purcell, 2010, p31). It is the responsibility of both principal and teacher librarian to ensure that their school is a collaborative environment conducive to increased student achievement. If the principal conceives the teacher librarian as an ally for advancing school goals, they are more likely to appreciate the strong connection between library goals and school goals and support the teacher librarian accordingly (Oberg, 2006, p16).

Reference List

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide 13(1), 56-65.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School Libraries Worldwide 13(1), 35-35.

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.

Oberg, D.  (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian. 33(3), 13-18.

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



  1. […] Heino, E. (March 25, 2013). Blog Task 1: The Role of the Teacher Librarian in Practice with regard to Principal Support. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from:… […]

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