Librarians are Gold!

Let the Learning Begin…..

ETL401: Assignment Item 5 Critical Reflection

on January 3, 2013

Provide a critical synthesis of your reflection on how your view of the role of the teacher librarian (TL) may have changed during the subject.

Throughout ETL401 my view of the role of the TL has changed greatly because I have learnt more about the vital role a TL plays in educating students and meeting student outcomes. Prior to studying ETL401 I thought TLs spent most of their time returning books and ordering high quality resources. I now understand more about the ASLA Library standards of professional excellence and appreciate the critical role TLs play in assisting to implement guided inquiry (GI) and information literacy (IL) into the school curriculum.

TLs need to do more than let students borrow books, TLs need to be aware of The Australian School Library Association’s twelve standards which “represent the goals to which all Australian TLs should aspire, and provides inspiration for quality teaching and ongoing professional practice” (ASLA, as cited in Herring, 2007, p. 29).

“Successful collaboration is directly related to quality of relationships, goals and rewards” (Brown, 2004). When TLs collaboratively plan with teachers, participants feel ownership that their ideas and efforts are appreciated and hence a more collaborative atmosphere will be evident amongst staff in the school and the learning outcomes of students will be supported. As an instructional partner, the TL should participate in curriculum design and assessment, help teachers develop instructional activities and provide expertise in materials and technology.

Excellent TLs assist the implementation of a GI approach into schools. This would be an ideal opportunity for the TL to collaborate with teachers and offer his / her expertise into the research process. GI units give teachers the opportunity to work alongside TLs in creating inquiry units and also to work alongside students assisting them to move through the various stages of research. “GI tasks should be linked to the curriculum” where teachers and TLs guide students through an open ended task (FitzGerald, 2011).

Recent studies have indicated that GI is more effective in promoting learning outcomes such as deep thinking, the ability to apply knowledge, and reasoning skills. In the GI process, students actively research and seek out knowledge, and the TLs (along with the classroom teachers) are the facilitators of the students learning. Research shows that the combination of collaborative teaching and a GI approach contributes to the development of information literacy and IT skills (Chu et al., 2011, p. 12). It is widely held that projects related to guided inquiry help students develop content knowledge as well as information literacy skills (Thomas, 2011, p. 56). In guided inquiry “students are seen as active agents in their construction of their own personal topical comprehension” (Kuhlthau & Todd, as cited in Thomas, 2011, p. 54).

I agree with Kuhlthau who states “school librarians are primary agents in schools for 21st century learners. School libraries are dynamic learning centres in information age schools” (2010, p. 17). GI is learner centred and combines well with IL skills that are focused on individual, lifelong learning. The presence of the TL and teacher at each stage of the GI project to intervene, plan and offer expertise, both in planned and unplanned ways (FitzGerald, 2011, p. 28).

It was interesting to note that the American Association School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learner have expanded their professional standards to incorprate GI. However, the Australian School Library Association’s (ASLA) Library standards of professional excellence for TLs don’t mention the word inquiry. This to me says that inquiry based learning plays a greater part in the role of the TL in the American education system than the Australia education system.

The New York School Library Continuum (n.d.) states ”librarians play a key role in integrating independent learning skills throughout the curriculum by teaching research, inquiry, and technology skills to students and by providing professional development for teachers”. 21st century school libraries remain the backbone of schools, libraries are changing – reflecting our world and our values. (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 32). The unique work of the TL focuses on student learning and literacy, however it is excellent TLs who are lifelong learners and collaborative planners.

The school and the TL are an integral part of the school learning community. TLs support students learning outcomes by “ensuring that their programs are responsive to the needs of learners in the school community” (ASLA, 2004, p. 3). TLs extend what has been taught in the classroom by teaching students to develop information skills and then integrate the skills taught with classroom teaching.


AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Australian School Library Association. (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for TLs. Retrieved from

Brown, C. (2004). America’s most wanted: teachers who collaborate. TL, 32(1), 13-18.

Chu Kai Wah S., Tse S.K., & Chow K. (2011). Using collaborative teaching and inquiry project-based learning to help primary school students develop information literacy and information skills. Library & Information Science Research, 33(2), 132–143. Retrieved from

de Groot, J., & Branch, J. L. (2011). Looking Toward the Future: Competences for 21st-Century Teacher-Librarians. Alberta Journal Of Educational Research, 57(3), 288-297.

FitzGerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of guided inquiry: guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41. Retrieved from;dn=187248;res=AEIPT

Hay, L. & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: the conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42. Retrieved from;dn=183676;res=AEIPT

Herring, J. (2007). TLs and the school library. Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information, 27-42. Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2010). Guided inquiry: school libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17-28. Retrieved from

New York City School Library system information fluency continuum. (n.d.) Retrieved from:

Thomas, N. P., Crow, S. R., & Franklin, L. L. (2011). Chapter 3: The Information Search Process: Kuhlthau’s legacy. In Information literacy and information skills instruction: Applying research to practice in the 21st century school library (3rd ed., pp. 33-58). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from


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