1. Discuss how the teacher librarian’s expertise and role in ‘selecting and using resources’ is different from that required by all teachers.
Both teacher librarians (TLs) and teachers (Ts) are required to select and use resources to meet the learning needs of their students.
There are differences though, the TLs expertise and role in ‘selecting and using resources’ is much broader than that required by a teacher. The TLs focus is on the bigger picture for the whole school. Whereas, Ts are more focused on the students learning needs of the particular class or classes they are responsible for.
Overall the TLs expertise in the area of ‘selecting and using resources’ can assist and guide teachers in their own selection and use of resources. TLs and Ts ultimately have the same goal: Creating a rich learning environment that meets the needs of the students and the curriculum.
The teacher librarian’s expertise and role in ‘selecting and using resources’ includes:
• TLs are information specialists and therefore part of their role is to assist / guide /collaborate with teachers in their school to select and evaluate resources for their use in the classroom.
• TLs need to be experts in the evaluation of all resources, including electronic e.g. websites: does it meet the needs of the learners and curriculum.
• TLs need to know and understand the needs of all members of the school community: students, teachers, the administrators, the parents.
• TLs need to know detailed information about all students in the school community: reading levels, writing levels, language differences, reading preferences. TLs need to be confident that all learning differences or difficulties (across all grades and subjects) are being addressed with appropriate resources.
• When selecting resources TLs must always consider local needs, the needs of the students in their particular school.
• TLs need to be part of curriculum development so that they can select appropriate resources for the whole school. Collaboration with all members of the school community is necessary to help TLs develop collection policy and the criteria for resource selection, that best meets the needs of the students and the curriculum requirements.
• TLs need to evaluate and understand the strengths and weakness of the current school collection.
• TLs need to establish partnerships with broader community organisations to provide essential resources for students – creating a information rich learning environment.
• TLs need to stay informed, current and understand all resources available: new resources, advances in online searching, technological changes and delivery platforms.
• TLs negotiate budgets: must work with school budget frameworks and understand budgeting techniques when negotiating for resources. They have to be able to demonstrate how resources support school priorities.
2. Share ideas on how teacher librarians might effectively collaborate with the school community in the selection of resources in a school with which you are familiar.
• Collaboration with the school community seems to be the key to pinpointing the resource areas that are a priority to the school community
• TLs can interview and survey (talk to) members of the school community that are integral in the appropriate selection of resources. These members include: teachers, administrators, students, parents and any other school personnel that seems necessary
• Observe students in their classroom
• TLs need to be part of the discussion regarding curriculum development, so that resource needs are identified and meet.
• TLs can attend faculty, departmental or grade level meetings to gather information on learning /resource needs and discuss what resources need to be purchased
• TLs need to embrace the expertise that other members of the learning community offer.
• TLs can create a blog, as a tool for communicating with the wider school community about collection development and encouraging members to leave comments, suggestions and feedback
3. Consider also how to engage your learners in selection of resources for their school library.
• Students need to be encouraged and given opportunities to contribute their ideas, needs and knowledge about resources (electronic and print) and ICT’s.
• Interest inventories with students
• Using a blog, as mentioned above is another great tool for encouraging students input about resource selection
4. Who should have the final say on what is included in the school library collection? Why?
As TLs are the information specialist within a school, I believe they should have the final say on what is included in the school library collection. I do realise this may not always be the case in reality in many schools.
The TL can only have this final say after much collaboration with teachers, principals, students and other members of the learning community and taking into consideration what has come from this collaboration. Of course, student’s learning is the primary purpose. The TLs expertise as an information specialist needs to be acknowledged and welcomed. Their specialised experience should be given weight when decisions are being made about resource selection. This is the job they have been employed to do.