Previous to starting my study to become a qualified teacher librarian I had never given much thought about exactly how many different roles a teacher librarian must perform to be successful. According to Herring (2007) a teacher librarians roles may include the following: a teacher, a librarian, an information service manager, an information literacy leader, a curriculum leader, an information specialist, an instructional partner, a website developer, a budget manager, a staff manager and a fiction and non-fiction advocate.
For an individual to perform such a role it is vital that they have support from the school and in particular, the principal. Haycock (2007), discusses the importance of the principal in the collaboration process between teachers and teacher librarians. This collaboration will have a positive effect on student achievement and the school community in general. Haycock (2007) also refers to Haycock (1992), who describes a skilled principal as one who will “establish evaluation procedures, integrate the library in instructional programs, encourage student and teacher use, and provide flexible scheduling” (Haycock, 2007). Therefore, if a teacher librarian is to be successful in his or her role and for the school community to benefit, both the teacher librarian and the school principal will need to work alongside each other.
Collaboration between the teacher librarian and the rest of the school community however, can be difficult. In my opinion many principals, teachers and other school community members view the teacher librarian as an introvert who is reluctant to collaborate and even more reluctant to step up as a leader within the school. Kaplan (2007) highlights, it is in fact a part of a teacher librarian’s job to step into these roles and more. Oberg (2006), states “Teacher-librarians suffer from occupational invisibility, and the occupational socialization of principals rarely focuses on libraries or teacher-librarians.” Due to this it is important that the teacher librarian makes their role known within the school and to the principal. Once this has been established it is then important that the principal shows support for the teacher librarian and the library programs. Research has shown support occurs when a principal demonstrates the following: supervising and working with teachers, showing personal commitment, enabling programs, and mentoring (Oberg, 2007).
A study conducted by Morris & Packard (2007) similarly found that successful programs showed collaboration between the teachers, media specialists (teacher librarians) and the principal. They also came to the notion that the programs may have been successful due to the support of the principal in this collaboration process.
It is clear to me that if a teacher librarian and his or her library programs are to be successful, collaboration between the teacher librarian, teachers and principal must occur. Morris & Packard (2007) support this statement and make comment that research has suggested that student achievement is influenced by this collaboration. A principal therefore has a vital role in ensuring that collaboration does in fact occur regularly. The principal also must take an active role through encouraging, facilitating and supervising library programs as well as serve as a mentor to the teacher librarian. Ongoing support for the teacher librarian and their programs is therefore crucial in improving the teaching and learning of students.
Haycock, K. (1992). What works: Research about teaching and learning through the school’s library resource centre. Seattle. WA: Rockland Press.
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration:Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide 13 (1), 25-35.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (p. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Kaplan, A. G. (2007). Is your school librarian highly qualified? Phi Delta Kappan 89(4), 300.
Morris, B. J., & Packard, A (2007). The principal’s support of classroom teacher-media specialist collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide 13(1), 36-55.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administators. Teacher Librarian 33(1), 13-18.