ETL505 Critical Reflection

ETL505 has been one of the most difficult subjects to complete. Developing an understanding of several big concepts such as using Resource Description and Access (RDA), metadata, building Dewey numbers, analysing Dewey numbers, and SCIS subject headings in just one short semester was just crazy. Whilst I am sure something must have stuck, I am not sure how much!

As teacher librarians one of our most important roles is to provide access to information and resources for our students and other members of the school community. We are no longer in a world of quiet school libraries that consist mostly of shelves full of books with perhaps a few computers tucked in a quiet corner. On a daily basis we are dealing with a huge variety of resources in many different formats such as computer games, books, graphic novels, websites, DVDs, equipment, globes, games and ebooks. One of the challenges that teacher librarians and libraries in general face is firstly dealing with and helping others deal with the onslaught of information that we face every day. The other challenge is competing with Google and other similar content searchers. We need to be providing an experience that enables users to find the information they need in the format they require.

The implementation of RDA has been a welcome move and allows for a much more accurate description of a wider variety of sources. It seemed logical and made a lot of sense to me that we should describe items in this much more flexible way. The system is based on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) user tasks of Find, Identify, Select, and Obtain. It also describes the hierarchy of bibliographic data and is compatible with AACR2. Because RDA is constructed based on the user tasks it should make the user experience much more friendly.

One of the other areas that I was particularly interested in was the development of fourth generation library systems. I have long thought that library systems should be much more interactive. Students are used to participating in an interactive online environment. I have often thought that more students would be encouraged to use the catalogue if it had elements of online experiences that students are familiar with such as avatars, posting and liking or rating. It is great to see that this is on its way. Destiny and Oliver are two library management systems that are heading in this direction.

Having some knowledge of how various types of information are described and the philosophy behind those descriptions will be useful when collating and curating information thereby providing more consistent access for students and teachers. The ALIA/ASLA Standards for Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians standard 1.4 Knowledge of library and information management states that excellent teacher librarians should:

• understand that professionally managed and resourced school
libraries are crucial to the achievements of the school community
• have a rich professional knowledge of national standards for
library and information management
• have a comprehensive understanding of national standards for
information retrieval

What we have learned in this subject will help us meet these standards.

Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association (2004). Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians. Retrieved on 29/09/2013 from

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On being an effective teacher librarian…my personal philosophy

An effective teacher librarian (TL) is professional, passionate and enthusiastic. She is a leader and a lifelong learner, continually reflecting on her practice and working to improve her skills and knowledge in information management, ICTs,  leadership, staff management, and teaching. The TL works with the library staff, the school management, the teachers and other stakeholders to create a library service that meets the needs of the school community.

Effective TLs are educators. She has a clear understanding of pedagogy and curriculum. She collaborates with other teachers and teacher librarians to create an information literate schools where students can effectively access and use information in a way that allows them to achieve success, academically and otherwise.

Effective TLs provide equitable access to information. She resources the Australian Curriculum and curates information to support students’ information requirements. Effective TLs encourage and empower students to become lifelong learners. Effective TLs love reading and foster a love of reading for pleasure and promote good reading habits.   They provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students and engage with the social, cultural and recreational aspects of the school.

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Collection development, access and ICTs

Collection development is one of the parts of the role of a teacher librarian that I enjoy most. The last few years have been a challenging time for collection development and maintenance with the introduction of the Australian Curriculum and rapid changes to access methods requiring a reassessment of collection development policies and practices. Completing ETL503 Resourcing the Curriculum came at the ideal time as I was looking to create a collection development policy for my library. The subject helped me develop a much better understanding of the Australian Curriculum, giving me the skills to analyse it. The subject also gave me guidance on analysing the collection. This process allowed me to develop a thorough understanding of the collection, including areas where it was lacking. Going through the process of creating a collection development policy was challenging but worthwhile, especially as we did not have a policy previously. I have continued to refine the policy and I have included the updated mission and vision for the library developed as a result of school wide strategic planning.

The area that I found most challenging was in the provision of and access to electronic resources and ICTs. Unfortunately none of the reading I did throughout ETL503 was particularly helpful or applicable to our situation as it all seemed to assume a certain level of access. We had extremely limited resources, especially access to computers, only one computer to every four students, and that was if they were all working, and very little ICT support. Additionally, being a rural school many of our students had limited access (if any) to the internet at home. Along with that came the negative attitudes of teachers reinforced by many years of these limitations.

This was an area where I have found the support of my fellow teacher librarians to be invaluable. Practical suggestions and ideas for how to promote existing electronic resources to both teachers and students were very useful and guidance as to which resources would give most for the least cost and would be able to operate with the least technical resources were very helpful. In the end we made the decision not to implement any ebooks other than those which could be downloaded by students as PDFs such as Issues in Society but the Spinney Press. We trialled many electronic resources and in the end chose an online encyclopedia and weblinks as a starting point and alternatives to Wikipedia and Google.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

I worked collaboratively with select teachers across the subject areas to promote the use of the electronic resources in the classroom and I found this the most effective way of encouraging the take up of these resources by the students and teachers. We also subscribed to JSTOR at the request of the senior teachers.


The usage of these electronic resources is still not high and it can be difficult to justify the expense but it is a huge step in the right direction. We have still not overcome the issues involved with poor access to ICTs however continued investment in ICTs within the library is gradually improving the situation.

Another subject that gave me surprising insights into resourcing the curriculum was ETL402 Literature in Education. My research into the inclusion of Graphic Novels in the collection has helped develop my understanding of the medium and to see the benefits of their inclusion in the collection. As a result I have been able to create a small collection of Graphic Novels in the library which has been hugely popular and has been a drawcard for students who are not otherwise regular borrowers. I found the reviews on Top Shelf Productions website to be really helpful in choosing graphic novels that were appropriate for the collection.

I have found that to resource the curriculum effectively I need to get information from a number of sources. Some websites that I have found useful are:

  • A Mighty Girl – This website has some great lists of books, both fiction and non-fiction, that are aimed at empowering girls.
  • Goodreads – This site has great reviews of all sorts of books, including books for young adults.
  • Connections Website & App reviews – I found this useful in sourcing websites. Its really easy to upload them to the Library Catalogue as well!
  • Inside A Dog – I love this site by the State Library of Victoria. It’s a great way of finding out exactly what young people enjoy reading.

My studies have equipped me with the tools I need to resource not only the curriculum but also to seek out and evaluate new resources that will inspire my students and encourage them to read.

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Information Literacy

Creating information literate students is one of the key outcomes that TLs are seeking. In today’s world of complex and copious information, students need to be able to go beyond just finding and accessing information. They need to be information literate. Information literacy and the important role that TLs play in creating information literate students has been one of the key themes of the Med(TL) beginning with the unit ETL401 Teacher Librarianship which introduced the concept. I was very fortunate to have some knowledge of Information Literacy as a concept through my Post Graduate Bachelor of Teaching at the University of Tasmania. One of my tutors there introduced us to several of the information literacy models such as the Big 6 model (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 2001). Through ETL401 I developed my understanding of Information Literacy by combining the definitions of Herring, Eisenberg & Berkowitz and Kuhlthau: “Information literacy is the ability to: use information skills to locate, use, synthesise, communicate and evaluate information; translate those skills into real environments and situations; understand the importance and impact of information on communities and individuals; and manage relationships with information, including lifelong learning (Eisenberg, 2008; Herring, 2007; Kuhlthau, 1995).” This definition is much more thorough than my previous understanding. James Herring (2007 & 2011) has been influential in how I have included information literacy in my work as a TL. Kuhlthau has also been influential in developing my understanding of the importance of information literacy as a lifelong skill that permeates all aspects of everyday life and how important it is to lifelong learning (Kuhlthau, 1995).

After completing ETL401 I began to work towards information literacy in my school. The first step towards this was the introduction of an information skills model. The model chosen was the NSW Department of Education & Training Information Skills Process.

This model was chosen as it was supported with easily accessible resources and the language was familiar to most teachers. The ISP was rolled out gradually in collaboration with particular teachers. The knowledge that I gained through my studies was invaluable in this process.

Information literacy has been a challenging part of my journey and has involved not only developing my understanding of information literacy itself, but also my skills of collaboration and leadership, both areas that have been developed through the course.

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The role of the Teacher Librarian


Buffy Hamilton (2011) asks the question “What kind of Teacher Librarian are you?” (p. 35).

The role of the teacher librarian is complex in many ways but I believe that essentially it comes down to meeting the needs of the school community. Throughout my journey through the MEd(TL) my understanding of the role of the TL has developed, changed and expanded. Herring (2007) and Purcell (2010) have helped inform my perspectives while Joyce Valenza has been instrumental as a role model.

In ETL401 we were asked to define what we thought the role of the teacher librarian was. I defined the role of the teacher librarian as ‘to interpret, evaluate and assess information while guiding, assisting, enabling and encouraging learners and teachers in the use of information and technologies’. Though I feel this description is somewhat limiting, it is a great foundation for my continued discoveries about the role. One area that my definition did not cover is that of social, recreational and cultural activities. This has been a key element of my role as a TL. The International Association for School Librarianship defines the functions of a school library as educational, informational, recreational and cultural (2003). Teacher librarians are involved in many and varied social, recreational and cultural activities as part of school life that promote the well-being of students and encourage them in their development.

My understanding of Teacher Librarians as Leaders and advocates for the profession has been an area that particularly challenged me. The importance of collaboration and my understanding of myself as a collaborative leader has been one of the key elements of my learning journey over the last three years and I have reflected on it a number of times. Leading from the middle has been another challenge that I have been able to develop throughout my journey. Building open lines of communication with my staff, students and other teachers is important, but just as important is building (or sometimes forcing!) clear lines of communication with senior management. My confidence in this area has grown and this has been invaluable in establishing expectations and enabling the library to succeed in the ways that the senior management envision it succeeding. Throughout the course I have become much more aware of, and inspired by, TLs who are leaders and advocates for the profession, such as Lyn Hay, through her involvement in the Federal Government’s Inquiry into School Libraries & Teacher Librarians.

Closer to home I have also made connections through completing the course that have allowed me to network and see other Teacher Librarians in action. This networking has given me a much more accurate picture of the possibilities and potential of similar sized and staffed libraries. On a professional level, this has been one of the most helpful things that has helped me define my own role as a TL.

In combination these elements have enabled me to have a better understanding of the needs of my students and how I, in my role as Teacher Librarian, can be working to meet those needs. The MEd(TL) has given me the tools to describe what I do, the perception to see gaps in my professional practice and the ability to advocate for my library and my role in it as well as the wider profession of Teacher Librarianship. The ALIA/ASLA Standards of Professional Excellence (2004) have become the goalposts by which I measure myself as a TL. Some other resources that I have found helpful in defining my understanding of the role and supporting me in undertaking it are:

  • School Library Association of Queensland – I have found it very helpful to be a part of this network. The TL Networking days have been invaluable.
  • Connections – I love this magazine and look forward to it each term. It’s full of really relevant info for Australian school libraries and librarians. It is also helpful from a collection development point of view.
  • ASLA – Any and all information from ASLA has been helpful. ACCESS magazine has lots of great readings.
  • The School Library Journal – This is from the USA but I love dropping in here to read the features. The USA has such a vibrant school libraries community.
  • Teacher Librarian: Journal for school library professionals
  • Voya – A great magazine for librarians working with young adults
  • The Adventures of Library Girl – A really great blog with lots of tips.
  • And last but not least – my most helpful source of support and information is OZTLNET. There is an amazing wealth of knowledge and experience on this network and it is amazing to be able too put a question out to the network and have so many experienced TLs come back with answers.

And the answer to Buffy Hamilton’s question? Hopefully I am the kind of Teacher Librarian who is collaborating with my fellow educators to equip, empower and enable my students to succeed.


Hamilton, B. (2011). The School Librarian as Teacher: What kind of teacher librarian are you? Knowledge Quest. p.35- 40

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). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

International Association of School Librarianship. (2003). IASL Policy Statement on School Libraries. Retrieved from

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

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My career so far…

My journey as a Teacher Librarian began a long time ago. In 1999 I completed a Post Graduate Diploma of Library and Information Studies at QUT. I wanted to be a Librarian because I loved books and reading and wanted to share that love with others. Three years later I was in my dream job, working as Librarian, Lending Services at City of York Libraries. My favourite parts of the job were the reader advisory and collection development aspects. I got a real thrill out of discovering that book that the reader ended up loving. Or planning that event that celebrated reading and encouraged discussion of books. When I returned to Australia I began working for Brisbane City Council Library Service again, but in that time services had been centralised and the job no longer had the same potential. I took a position as Information Officer for a charity where I administered their information assets while I went back to study part-time.

After completing my teaching degree and teaching overseas for two years I returned to libraries in 2011 when I took up the position as Teacher Librarian at Faith Lutheran College. During my time at Faith I have had the privilege of being involved in building a new library and implementing many new library programs.

Whilst undertaking my Masters in Education, Teacher Librarianship I have studied the six core subjects of

  1. ETL401 Introduction to Teacher Librarianship
  2. ETL503 Resourcing the Curriculum
  3. ETL504 Teacher Librarian as Leader
  4. ETL505 Describing & Analysing Information Resources
  5. EER500 Introduction to Educational Research
  6. ETL507 Professional Experience\Professional Portfolio

I completed the elective subject of ETL402 Literature in Education and will be completing my second elective, INF506 Social Networking for Information Professionals, over the summer semester. I also undertook a study visit to Singapore (EEB310 International Culture & Education). This exploration of other libraries was one of the highlights of the course. It was fascinating and inspiring seeing so many different kinds of libraries and looking at them with a critical eye. I came away with so many new and exciting ideas about libraries and education in general.

Each of these subjects has been a journey in its own right with both challenges and successes. Throughout the journey the most challenging thing has been juggling the demands of work, life and study, sadly, most of the time study seems to come a distant last, which I feel is a real shame as I would have liked to prioritise it a bit more. In my current position I am not working as a teacher librarian; however, I have found many aspects I have learnt about though my teacher librarian studies very useful, particularly in resourcing my teaching and integrating methods of inquiry. I am a firm believer that no learning is ever wasted and I intend to use the knowledge gained through this degree wherever I end up.

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My learning, my future effectiveness and the ASLA/ALIA Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians

Completing my Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) has helped me to consolidate many of my professional ideals and the ALIA/ASLA Standards of Professional Excellence for teacher librarians encapsulate the concept of excellence in teacher librarianship very effectively. The standards have been the foundation for much of the learning I have undertaken throughout my MEd(TL). This underpinning has guided my learning and enabled me to develop a strong sense of the practice of Teacher Librarianship and my strengths and weaknesses.

There are many aspects to the teacher librarian role which all work together to provide a service that fulfils the needs of all of the stakeholders. The Standards of Excellence describe three aspects of professional excellence – knowledge, practice and commitment. All of these values work together to provide consistency in the expectations of teacher librarians. I have found that the MEd(TL) provides in-depth opportunity to explore these standards and how the apply to my own practice as a Teacher Librarian.

Undertaking the MEd(TL) is an illustration of the importance of lifelong learning and it will allow me to support students and fellow teachers in successful lifelong education. The importance of participating in, and encouraging, lifelong learning has been continuously re-iterated throughout the course. Information literacy and other lifelong learning skills have been a focus of many subjects including ETL401 Teacher Librarianship. The course has given me the ability to evaluate the learning needs of a school through analysis of the school vision and therefore include those learning needs in my vision for the library. This adds value to the perception of the library by others in the school community.

Throughout the degree the importance of keeping up to date with changes in the educational environment such as pedagogy, curriculum, leadership and ICTs, the key elements of the Knowledge standard, have been continually reinforced (ALIA & ASLA, 2004). I have found that making links with other teacher librarians and becoming involved with leadership groups in curriculum and ICTs has been invaluable in maintaining my knowledge in these areas. The continually changing field of Technology has so far been my most challenging area due to a lack of time to keep up to date and a lack of facilities in my current working environment. As I continue to develop my practice I will keep working on building my skills in this area. Additionally, the Med(TL) has been instrumental in updating my library and information management skills, including staff management.

Another area I have become particularly passionate about is equity, access and fairness in providing programs and resources. I believe that school libraries epitomise this and it is the driving force for much of my practice. The professional practice elements of the ALIA & ASLA standards of excellence are supported by the knowledge element but include the creation of a rich and empowering learning environment, collaborative and responsive learning and teaching, and strategic provision of library and information management services (2004). All of these can inspire students to think creatively and critically about their learning and about life as well as empower and inspire them to reach their learning and life goals. Professional practice also involves evaluation and reflection on my own practice and this has been an ongoing thread throughout the degree. This blog has acted as a forum for professional reflection and critical evaluation. It has been helpful to see my own changing mindsets and my developing perceptions on different aspects of the profession, particularly on dealing with leadership and staff management. Consistently implementing the conclusions of my reflections is an ongoing challenge in the busyness of day to day work.

The third and final standard for excellence in teacher librarianship is commitment (ALIA & ASLA, 2004). This standard ties the other standards together and lifts them beyond being a checklist of aspects of the role of teacher librarianship. This standard iterates the dedication that being a teacher librarian requires. Key words such as empower, promote, foster and participate are prominent in this standard. Excellent teacher librarians use our knowledge and professional practice to show dedication in empowering students through quality teaching and learning that fosters a positive culture of reading and information seeking and we participate in professional development as both teachers and learners.

This standard has a particular focus on Leadership. This is an area that I have found to be a particular challenge during the course of my studies and one in which I would like further development. Whilst I have been in leadership roles for many years, the MEd(TL) has given me the opportunity to reflect on the skills of leadership and my application of those skills through ETL504 The Teacher Librarian as a Leader. I have developed a much more thorough understanding of my own leadership style and the implications that has for my staff management and interactions with my colleagues. I am continuing to develop my understandings in this area thorough further professional reading and development as well as by seeking out opportunities to see school leadership in action through leadership committees and mentoring. Furthermore, engaging in school leadership and participating in key leadership committees has also led to opportunities to promote the library and information literacy with a whole school focus as well as additional opportunities to promote the library to the school and wider community.

Completing my MEd(TL) will go a long way towards attaining excellence in Teacher Librarianship, and it has certainly equipped me with many of the tools I will need. However, the essence of the Standards is that they are ongoing and can be built upon and I will continue to use them in this way. Three particular areas that I will continue to develop are ICTs, Leadership and promoting whole school information literacy through collaborative teaching. I feel that the course has given me a strong foundation to go forward with and build my career as a TL.


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Critical Reflection on Leadership in Teacher Librarianship

Over the course of ETL504 Teacher Librarianship I have learned a great deal about leadership in general and specifically about Teacher Librarians as leaders, and the theory behind this. I have also learnt about the benefits of Teacher Librarian’s taking on a leadership role. Barbara Coombs (2007) has a point when she describes defining our role within the school as one of the major challenges we face.

Teacher Librarians are facing a time when we have to justify our existence and this is despite studies regularly showing the benefits of Teacher Librarians in schools. A recent study of Gold Coast schools showed the benefits of Teacher Librarians, with schools with qualified Teacher Librarians achieving significantly higher in NAPLAN results than those without (Hughes, 2013, p. 35). It’s really great to see the research taking place which shows just what an asset teacher librarians are. Now we just have to get that information out to the right people. This infographic is a great tool for advocacy, and there are many more similar graphics around.

We need to show others that we can be transformational leaders, transforming our students into 21st century learners and transforming our staff into united, empowered and vision driven teams (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005; Coombs, 2007). Probably the most useful piece of information I learned was that leaders need to have a strong vision that inspires others to want to work with them to achieve that vision. The vision explains what we want to be, but also should have some sense of why we want to be that (Sinek, 2009). If we know the why and are able to articulate it, others will believe too, and want to achieve the dream.

Communication, including listening,  is essential to being a good leader. I discovered through the questionnaire that I am a collaborator, which didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. Collaborating is a part of the role that I enjoy most and the lack of anybody to collaborate with in my own team is my biggest struggle. Our school, like most others, is a rapidly changing environment. In the last three years it has doubled in size and will increase by another 50% in the next three years. We have new buildings and subject areas to resource and increasing staff numbers both in our team and in the wider school community and on top of this, external changes such as the Australian Curriculum being implemented over the next few years (QSA, 2012). Communication, transparency and an effective plan are important facets of change management. Kotter’s article on Change Leadership expresses the importance of having a strong vision to deal with change as well.

This unit came at a very good time for me for three reasons

  1. We are in a strategic planning stage at school.
  2. Leaders within the school are undergoing a tri-annual review including receiving 360° Feedback and developing personal goals aligned with strategic goals.
  3. I need to promote the library and our resources more.

This unit has helped me to gain a better understanding of my own leadership style and assess what I need to change and build upon. It has helped me to define what we do as a library and as teacher librarians, but also and perhaps more importantly why we do it (Sinek, 2009). It has shown me the importance of both of these elements in managing staff and staff conflict.

So, what’s next?

I have approached my Deputy Principal about the importance of developing a separate Vision and Strategic Plan for the Information Hub (prior to this it was planned for under the Resources and ICT plans) and he has agreed to work with me on developing these. We have discussed that for this to take place there needs to be a committee supporting the library which consists of members from each department, ensuring the strategic plan meets the needs of the whole school. We have already begun to get feedback from staff about the future of the Information Hub with a brainstorming session during a staff PD session.  I will continue to develop my inform my practice with current leadership theory through reading and professional development.

Developing a vision and strategic plan for the Information Hub, even if only for the purposes of this assignment has made me feel much more confident and inspired about my position as Teacher Librarian. I find it extremely useful to have a plan for action and inspiring to have that aspirational goal. I actually feel that I know what is expected of me as the Teacher Librarian now and this will only continue to improve as we work towards implementing a formal Vision and plan.


Coombs, B. (2007). Challenges for teacher librarianship in the 21st century: Part 3 – Status and role. SCIS Connections. Retrieved on 29/09/2013 from

Hughes, H. (2013). School libraries, teacher-librarians and their contribution to student literacy in Gold Coast schools. Brisbane: School Library Association Queensland & Queensland University of Technology.

Kotter, J. (n.d.).          Kotter International – Change Leadership.     Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from

Marzano, R. McNulty, B. & Waters, T. (2005) School leadership that works: from research to results. ASCD. Alexandria: VA

Sinek, S. (2009). How great leaders inspire action. Retrieved on 3/10/2013 from

Queensland Studies Authority (2012). Schedule of QSA activities to support implementation of Australian Curriculum P-10 (2013 – 2016). Retrieved on 13/09/2013 from

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27 Things Your Teacher Librarian Does

With thanks to Mia MacMeekin. See infographic for bibliographic details.

teacherlibrarian does

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School Libraries & Student Achievement Infographic


Find this image at the Library Research Service.


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October 3, 2013 · 5:15 pm