Librarians are Gold!

Let the Learning Begin…..

ETL401- Role of the Teacher Librarian

The role of the TL with regard to implementing a Guided Inquiry (GI) approach.

“Guided inquiry equips students with abilities and competencies to address the challenges of an uncertain, changing world” (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 18). The GI approach encourages students to gain an indepth understanding of a particular topic and become experts in their own field. Inquiry learning happens as part of a collaborative team and enables students to think, evaluate and learn at a higher level. The GI approach gives students the information literacy skills to assist them to succeed as 21st century learners.

Todd (2008) states that the role of the TL “must change to take on the instructional dimensions, ensuring that student learning is based on discovery, curiosity, inquiry, critical and reflective thinking so that students can construct deep knowledge” (pp. 23–24). Sheerman (2011, p. 24) suggests “the teacher librarian should advocate for change at a whole school level, even to the level of the school mission and goals, demonstrating that their practice in teaming to deliver authentic learning is backed by evidence”.

I believe that one important way for TLs to implement change at their school is to collaboratively plan and implement GI units for each grade. Teachers on their own do not have the expertise that TLs have in how to locate, evaluate and use relevant information for learning. This parallels the research findings from Kuhlthau et al. (as cited in Chu, Tse & Chow, 2011) for having a flexible three-member core team consisting of two subject teachers and a librarian for the implementation of GI projects. “This arrangement was effective in harnessing the domain knowledge of the subject teachers, as well as the information literacy skills of the librarian, thus promoting a more authentic inquiry experience for the students”.

Excellent TLs are part of collaborative teams who design learning tasks, rubrics, scaffolds and information literacy skills to create lifelong learners. GI is more than a personal interest project, it “is a way of learning that accomplishes the objectives of 21st century schools. It is the way to meet the many requirements of the curriculum through engaging, motivating and challenging learning” (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 19).

Throughout my readings many innovative and motivating Web 2.0 tools to assist students research needs when implementing a GI approach. Some of these strategies are Pathfinders, wikis, blogs, word clouds, google docs. Scheffers (2008) also suggests class blogs and web quests as useful teaching strategies to engage students throughout their GI unit. At my current school I have observed Pathfinders in infants classes successfully being as a tool for assisting students who lack content knowledge of a specific topic.

The GI approach differs greatly from the old fashioned teaching method of searching for information to fill in the blanks on a photocopied sheet. Whilst reading Robins (2005), I enjoyed reminiscing back to the days of my first teaching practicum 18 years ago, when the style of teaching mentioned in the “Bird Unit” was the norm. Being an educator today in a GI context allows for a continuum of learning directed by the student curiosity, interested and inquisitiveness to take place.


Chu K. W. 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

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

Robins, J. (2005). Beyond the bird unit. Teacher Librarian33(2), 8-19.

Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided inquiry: A learning journey. Scan, 27(4), 34-42.

Sheerman, A. (2011). Accepting the challenge: Evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(2), 24-33.

Todd, R. J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and TL instructional collaborations. Scan, 27(2), 19-28.

Todd, R. J. (2009). School Librarianship and Evidence Based Practice: Progress, Perspectives, and Challenges. Evidence Based Library And Information Practice, 4(2), 78-96. Retrieved from


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