Posted by: eheino | April 2, 2013

Advocacy of Teacher Librarian Role

So far, a great deal of emphasis in my subject ‘Teacher Librarianship’ has been on the importance of teacher librarians advocating for their own positions, and collecting evidence to prove their worth to their principal.  I think it is such a shame that this responsibility is left to the teacher librarian themselves, when the evidence in the literature is so clear. Teacher Librarians are having to prove their worth in order to keep their jobs, which is ridiculous considering having a qualified teacher librarian in a school makes a marked difference to student achievement levels (School Libraries Work!, 2008). However, if it is necessary for teacher librarians to fight for their jobs (which appears to be the case), then it is extremely important that they do so.

So how can this be done? Oberg (2002) states that collecting evidence to show school libraries make a difference is part of the Teacher Librarian’s professional role. This should be done in two ways; translating existing research findings into language meaningful to decision makers (Haycock in Oberg, 2002) and generating research based in their own school environment. A combination of these research methods should generate enough evidence to prove to decision makers the importance of keeping the teacher librarian in the school. My previous two blog posts in this subject go into more detail about methodologies and the effect this research can have on principals, so I will move onto advocacy itself.

All of the research and evidence is all well and good, but if the librarian is not proactive and enthusiastic about their role, then the evidence means nothing. Teacher librarians need to show their enthusiasm for the library program, and ensure their library reflects the recommendations in the literature. Teacher Librarians today should be making an effort to move their library into the 21st century, by repositioning it as a “flexible and dynamic learning space” (Hay & Todd, 2010, p33). Libraries today should be more than stores of information. Students and teachers should be actively encouraged to visit the library at any time in order to increase their information literacy amongst other things. Hay & Todd (2010) also recommend building strong partnerships and relationships with staff members to create a network of support for the school library program.

Before doing this course, I was aware of issues facing the teacher librarian profession, so although the readings have reinforced my knowledge of the lack of support that some teacher librarians face, it is comforting to know that there is something we can do about it. School libraries and teacher librarians are going to become increasingly important as we move into the 21st century, and it will be my job to advocate this position to ensure it remains as central to the school as it should be.

References:

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

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

School Libraries Work! (2008) Scholastic Research & Results

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