It has become apparent that the role of the Teacher Librarian is an ever changing one due to the constant new developments and changes within society. The school library is no longer the quiet building that warehouses books (Purcell, 2010, p. 30). Instead it is a central learning hub for the school community. One aspect of our role as Teacher Librarian is that of a facilitator in the convergence of literacy in the 21st century.
Herring (2004) and Lamb (2011) both suggest that it is part of a Teacher Librarian’s role to assist in equipping students with the skills to become lifelong learners. This involves proactively embracing new technologies and integrating them in the school community. Some may perceive the introduction of technology as a threat to the role of the Teacher Librarian; however it should not be seen this way. New technologies can assist Teacher Librarians in becoming leaders in bridging the digital divide that exists between the perceived library of the past and the library of the future.
Technology is changing the physical and information landscape of the library. The Teacher Librarian must be at the forefront of these changes, constantly adapting to the fluid environment created. Lamb (2011, p. 27) states that ‘the potential is present for the transformation of school media programs into a new kind of environment that combines the best of the physical and virtual worlds of learning’. This entails equipping teachers with the necessary skills of integrating technology into their instructional practice whilst meeting the curriculum requirements. It also involves teaching students the skills to locate, assess, evaluate, organise and apply this digital information efficiently and effectively. This allows students to develop the necessary life and career skills for use beyond the school boundaries.
With the increasing use of mobile technology, a Teacher Librarian must ensure that the library is a resource centre that combines the physical print world with that of the virtual world. It is essential to consider and cater for the various learning styles and abilities of students. Therefore, it is essential to provide students with media rich resources (Valenza, 2010). Many young students are using the various technologies available; however they still need guidance in building the skills to effectively use them (Lamb, 2011, p. 32). The Teacher Librarian can create a safe and comfortable learning environment where students can make the connection between the technological skills required and the relevance to their lifelong learning.
Communication and collaboration is essential to optimising learning opportunities in this changing learning environment. The changes in technology can be a useful tool in ensuring that students, teachers and the community remain connected. Herring (2004), suggests that a library web page acts as a second entrance to the library centre. It is up to the Teacher Librarian to create active pathways to link the inside and outside worlds of the school community and to ensure that the communication lines remain openly accessible.
How we use these technological tools has the greatest impact on learning rather than the technology itself. We must extend ourselves into the virtual spaces our students occupy, as these provide a social and collaborative manner of learning. It is in these virtual spaces that students actively participate and engage in optimum learning (Lamb, 2011, p. 31). Hence, as Teacher Librarian’s we must actively model the use of technology to encourage skills in lifelong learning.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries
in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42).
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. Tech Trends: Linking Research to Improve Learning, 55 (4) (pp. 27-36).
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist, Library Media Collection, 29 (3) (pp. 30-33).
Valenza, J (2010). Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/