the role of the teacher librarian will be very different in the future…?

13 Dec

This post title is attributed to a quote from from the Manager Library Services, Ed QLD ( Post titled BER in Queensland: New Libraries But No Books or TLs? ) So who will determine what the role will be like in the future and how can teacher-librarians contribute to these determinations?

The Hub also reports: … 35% of government school libraries have no teacher librarians. Approximately two thirds of all schools have either no teacher librarian or less than one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) working in their school library. After the Northern Territory (5%), Tasmania (50%), Western Australia (almost 60%) and Victoria (65%) have the lowest number of TLs employed K-12 across all sectors. Instead there are high numbers of library technicians in Tasmania and Victoria and library officers in Western Australia.

These are very challenging times for teacher-librarians. Unfortunately, not all Principals or Education Departments are supportive of the ideals of teacher-librarianship, but neither are all teacher-librarians. Similarly, the low level of teacher-librarian staffing at Australian schools should be promoting discussion about where school teacher-librarianship should be heading in the future. Efforts to connect with employers on this topic need to continue.

An example of this was the “Creating Future Libraries” Conference, an
initiative of the Brisbane Central West / Brisbane North Future of Libraries reference group.

This was a one day professional learning event designed for teacher librarians on October 19, 2009 at the State Library of QLD. The event involved presentations and discussion starters from Education Queensland eLearning Branch, the Brisbane Regional Office, State Library of Queensland staff presenting new initiatives of the State Library, and SLAQ and ASLA representatives discussing National Standards. The day was designed to have important future perspectives information about the teacher librarian as the information, knowledge and media specialist, positioning the library as a vibrant learning hub of any school, and all teacher librarians from State and Independent schools were invited, though the invitation to private schools was quite late.

However, this event was somewhat “one way” with teacher-librarians who attended largely present in a listening capacity. ASLA is certainly making efforts to promote two way dialogue, as is The Hub blog with its Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia. However, they require support and contribution from the teacher-librarian profession if we see our role as essential for a quality education for Australian students. And this includes support from those of those of us fortunate enough to work at supportive schools, like All Hallows’, who value teacher-librarianship and school libraries.

However, there also needs to be realisation that there is a vast difference in the resource capacities of schools across the education sectors and across Australia – so how can teacher-librarian skills be accessed by all students? This may mean quite radical “new technology” solutions.

Read more at:
AEU Teacher Librarians and School Libraries Policy 2008 (2009). Letter to the Rudd Government. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from ASLA:
Broady-Preston, D. J. (2009). The information professional of the future: polymath or dinosaur. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from Caval:
Oxley, C. (2009). Diminishing respect for teacher- librarians. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from Discovery 2.0:
BER- about buildings –
Parker, M. (2009). Writing on the wall for library revolution. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from Daily Telegraph:
The Australian School Libraries Research Project
The Hub blog – member contributors. (2009). Retrieved December 12, 2009, from The Hub-Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia:


Posted by on December 13, 2009 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “the role of the teacher librarian will be very different in the future…?

  1. Cathy Oxley

    December 18, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    It is absolutely true that many school principals are taking a long, hard look at the value they are getting from their Teacher Librarians, and they are choosing to replace their hours with other services – such as curriculum coordinators – particularly at a time when the results of standardised, national testing are affecting school enrolments.

    In order to survive, TLs must re-invent themselves as enthusiastic and proactive leaders in the areas of e-learning, and information retrieval and analysis. As well as providing dynamic and creative reading programs, they need to become involved with curriculum development, assist with teaching rich and meaningful learning experiences, and provide professional development for teachers, showing new ways of engaging students using Web 2.0 technologies. They need to model life-long learning by developing their own personal learning networks (PLNs). In short, they must become so invaluable to the school community that their demise would leave an unthinkable, gaping chasm.

    I agree with Anne’s comment that some TLs themselves don’t agree with the way our roles need to change. For too long, many TLs have focused on buying and cataloguing books, teaching the Dewey system and closing the library for stocktaking, when a new generation of students at school searches using tag clouds and links, cannot tell a hoax website from an authentic one, and doesn’t realise that Google only searches 18% of the Web. I have been a member of the SLAQ Brisbane sub-committee for nearly 15 years, and over that time I have seen increasing apathy amongst Teacher Librarians, with fewer people being willing to take organisational roles on the committee, and fewer people attending PD sessions, workshops and conferences – and all of this before school principals started cutting back on TL hours.

    If we want to continue to exist as a profession, it’s time for a paradigm shift in thinking to match our new buildings!
    In Alvin Toffler’s words: “The illiterate of the 21C will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

    • anneticipation

      December 19, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      Cathy, thanks for your response. We have falling numbers of T/L jobs around the world. but many T/Ls just blame schools or administrators.This will not create more jobs – changing into Century 21 teacher-librarians will…Merry Christmas, Anne

  2. anneticipation

    December 28, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Update from the USA – “… in Mesa, Ariz., where the Mesa Public School District is on the verge of eliminating all of its library media specialist positions over the next three years.

    The district’s plan is to move its librarians into the classroom to become teachers, replacing them with support staff. More at…


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