The Role of a Teacher Librarian

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March 21, 2013 by patriciawhite84

In this weeks readings we discuss the multiple roles of the teacher librarian and the varying perspectives of the profession. I shared a common opinion with fellow student Marie-Lee. You can read her reflection here and below is my response.

I’m on the same page Marie-Lee. Although I haven’t worked in a school library, my mum was a TL so I have been exposed to the industry for decades and right now I am volunteering at an independent school whilst teaching casually. The readings have definitely fuel my desire to know more. Like you, I see myself more as the Teacher. As Purcell (2010) puts it, I want to be able to assist students and teachers navigate information “in an increasingly complex world” (p. 31). In order to do so, “professional and personal development is vital” to “adapt to the changing needs of the learning communities” (Lamb, 2010, p. 33). The position of the teacher librarian is so multi-faceted that I know I could never clearly indicate what role I’ll fulfil as it will constantly evolve as the library environment changes. But I do know that I am adaptable and capable of wearing many hats. The extensive list that Valenza (2010) created does help isolates focus areas of professional practice and I know that I will “continue to consider and revise” my vision of a teacher librarian.

As Marie-Lee highlighted, administrative duties are also heavily tied to the TL role as well. Some schools are lucky in that they have supportive principals and administrations who understand the complexities of the role. Where I volunteer, the junior and senior library are combined, so they able to utilise the expertise of the fulltime library technician. My local primary school also has a full time teacher librarian, with an admin assistant who comes in once a week.  It is clear that the principals in these environments respect the profession and do not see us as “service provides who merely respond to teacher or student requests” (Oberg. 2006, p. 13).

I believe that forming relationships is crucial to the success of the library. Haycock (2007) identifies that “collaboration is the single professional behaviour of teacher librarians that most affects student achievement” (p. 32). From what I have witnessed, the library isn’t just a safe haven for students but for teachers as well. I would add that the teacher librarian is also a counsellor, offering a supportive and safe environment to voice concerns and opinions.  By building relationships with teachers and changing their perspectives, you intensify your voice within the school community. In order to move beyond the “occupational invisibility”(Oberg, 2006, p. 14) that teacher librarians have traditional suffered from, I would also endeavour to build an online presence for the school library and step out of the library as much as possible in order to become active member of the school community.


Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Tech Trends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.

Valenza, J. (2010, December 3). A revised manifesto. In School Library Journal. Retrieved from


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