What is a teacher librarian?

A qualified teacher librarian is defined as a person who holds recognised teaching qualifications and qualifications in librarianship, defined as eligibility for professional membership for the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).

Within the broad fields of education and librarianship, teacher librarians are uniquely qualified. This is valuable because curriculum knowledge and pedagogy are combined with library and information management knowledge and skills.

Teacher librarians support and implement the vision of their school communities through advocating and building effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners.

Teacher librarians have three major roles.

Teacher librarians as curriculum leaders:

  • work with Principals and senior staff to ensure information literacy outcomes are a major school focus;
  • are involved in curriculum planning and school curriculum committees;
  • raise staff awareness of the need for students to acquire information skills and of the importance of resource-based learning in developing these skills;
  • promote the use of the information process as a framework for the development of information skills and as the basis for systematic monitoring of students' development as information users;
  • plan, teach and evaluate collaboratively with teachers to ensure the effective integration of information resources and technologies into student learning;
  • maintain literacy as a high priority, engaging students in reading, viewing and listening for understanding and enjoyment;
  • provide additional assistance to students with particular learning needs or abilities, and to students for whom social justice considerations apply;
  • involve students in the operation of the information centre to contribute to their understanding of the role of educational information services in lifelong learning and reading.

Teacher Librarians as information specialists:

  • provide access to information resources through efficient and well-guided systems for organising, retrieving and circulating resources;
  • provide training and assistance to students and staff in the effective use of these systems;
  • interpret information systems and technologies for students and teachers in the context of curriculum programs;
  • provide specialist assistance to students using technology and information resources in and beyond the school and for independent research;
  • provide specialist assistance to students using the school information service facility for independent reading, viewing and listening.

Teacher librarians as information services managers:

  • develop and implement strategies for evaluating the resource collection and for determining curriculum and student needs within the context of identified school priorities;
  • develop policies, procedures and criteria for selecting resources which meet curriculum, informational and student recreational needs;
  • develop information systems and services responsive to student and teacher needs;
  • ensure that the day-to-day administration of the school information centre is efficient and that systems, resources and equipment are well maintained;
  • develop budget estimates to ensure that teaching and learning requirements are met;
  • provide a stimulating, helpful environment which is a focal point and showcase for students' learning achievements;
  • promote the effective use of resources and information sources, systems and services both within and beyond the school.

(Learning for the future: developing information services in schools, Second edition, p. 60-62)

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