Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Is the Teacher Librarian an endangered species?

What a fabulous question - and one I would dearly love to pose to numerous principals, executive staff members and staff. In answering the question, one really needs to consider what they know of the role of the teacher librarian and what value they place upon that role.

The five guest speakers invited to answer that question at The American Association of School Librarians website:

Are School Librarians an Endangered Species provide interesting insight into this question.

All interviewees agreed - the Teacher Librarian is definitely not extinct and far from endangered. In today's rapidly changing educational landscape, the Teacher Librarian is a more relevant and important than ever.

Henry Jenkins points out that the role of Teacher Librarian needs to be redefined from that of curator of local collections to one where librarians are coaches who help young people navigate an evermore complex media and information landscape. He talks of librarians as online mentors in a digital landscape.

Doug Johnson discusses that the role of teacher librarian and their relevance in schools today is based on the core values or core beliefs that we as educators hold. If we believe in intellectual freedom, that all children should be good digital citizens, a commitment to teaching students to be critical users of information and ideas, that all students have the right to access a learning space where all of this is achievable, then there will continue to be teacher librarians and school libraries.

Michelle Luhtala gets right to the point. Schools that aim for instructional innovation and high standards for all learners and stand behind the goal of preparing students for 21st Century citizenship, understand that a well supported library program is integral towards meeting these goals. She discusses how rather than declining in relevance in schools, the need for Teacher Librarians is growing exponentially as the information age progresses. Luhtala also points out that educators who perceive the Teacher Librarian role as dealing primarily with print media show ignorance regarding the role of teacher librarian.

As we progress through this course, and towards achieving the qualifications for Teacher Librarianship,  forefront in our minds will be whether we will have to the opportunity to work with school executive who also share the understanding that Teacher Librarians are far from extinct and view us as critical members of the learning community.

What is your answer to this question?

How would your school executive and staff answer this question?

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