As a Teacher librarian I see my role, first and foremost, as that of a teacher. As an information specialist, my key teaching role is in promoting information literacy skills (Herring 2007 ; SLASA 2008). In today’s digital world, the acquisition of highly developed information literacy skills is essential for 21st century learners for school and beyond (AASL 2007 ; IFLA 2013). In the teaching of Information Literacy, we as TLs, can lead learning in this area. This provides us with opportunities to work collaboratively with staff creating and team-teaching information literacy programs. (ALIA & ASLA 2009 ; Herring 2007 ; Purcell 2010).
Collection development has always played an essential part of the role of the TL. This has traditionally centred on curating physical resources. The bulk of which were non-fiction information sources and fiction books to promote reading for pleasure and ultimately literacy (AASL 2007 ; Herring 2007). Today’s TLs have had to evolve and become tech savvy so as to also include digital formats and multimedia as part of the library’s virtual collection (Lamb 2011). We now also ensure to include resources such as ebooks, audiobooks, digital video, virtual libraries, databases, websites, music files and electronic newspapers, journals and magazines in the library collection. The 21st Century school library can now be accessed anywhere, anytime (Herring 2007 ; Latham & Poe 2008 ; Valenza 2010).
Technology leader is another crucial role for TLs. It is essential that we are not only competent in the use of technology for library management systems, we must also have expertise in productivity tools, recording and reading tools, social and participatory tools and a wide range of learning tools (Lamb 2011 ; Purcell 2012). As technology leaders, we aim to model best practice in integrating ICTs into the curriculum. Best practice will always focus on enhancing student learning when embedding technology, rather than using technology for technology’s sake (Churches 2009 ; Johnson 2010 ; Johnson 2011). As a consequence of the TLs’ role of technology leader, the role of professional developer becomes a natural progression. Due to demonstrated expertise in this area, we can share knowledge and skills by developing and presenting in-service training sessions for other teaching professionals. (Purcell 2012 ; Lamb 2011).
Teacher Librarians really do play an integral role in the learning outcomes of 21st Century Learners. The roles outlined above are but few in the many and varied roles that we can adopt in developing lifelong learners and information literate citizens (IFLA & UNESCO 2006). By assuming these roles of information specialist, physical and virtual collection developer, technology leader and professional developer we, as TLs, are best placed to not only promote learning outcomes but also our own vital role in the school community (ASLA 2012 ; Education Services Australia 2011 ; IASL 2003).
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