Pen’s TL Blog

Journey to the Centre of Teacher Librarianship

Freedom June 8, 2009

Filed under: Teacher Librarianship — penszen @ 11:57 am

It’s such a lovely feeling to be culling, sorting and filing at the end of a subject. I enjoyed my first ‘baby sleep’ time without having the pressure to study. I didn’t know what to do with myself: call some people; have a cup of tea and read; play lexulous; trawl Facebook; not to mention all the other semi-useful things I could have done. Having an impending overseas trip should have been a driver, but strangely I was able to ignore that.

And now, what? A few annotations on my bibliography before I forget everything (thanks for the tip, Roy), then file and finish.

Happy holidays everyone.


A changing perception June 2, 2009

I entered this course seeking qualification for a role that may be disappearing or probably never existed. With a primary teaching background and a personal love of books, my emphasis was on reading books for pleasure, more than information. I loved the library exactly for its separation from the fast-paced, stressful world of the classroom. No parents, no reports, and books books books.

My first blog entry, Hello World (26/2), reflects my one-sided view of the library as a repository of stories and me, the teacher librarian, as the reader and guide, but it also mentions how the librarian is “involved with all the staff” and describes the library as “the hub of the school”, two concepts which turn out to be critical in my new, informed imagining of the role.

At the residential school, I was excited but overwhelmed by the presentations. The video clip Information R/evolution rocked my world. I wrote in my blog entry But Is It Crap? (8/3), “After watching the mind-blowing video Information R/evolution I had feelings akin to panic as I realised I was entering a domain I knew almost nothing about.” I had a sinking feeling in my gut that perhaps I was in the wrong course, a feeling that would recur periodically.

The readings were nearly all fascinating, opening my eyes to a world of deep-thinking, ambitious professionalism that I had never suspected. I wrote in the Topic 1 sub-forum, “these readings have reinforced my strongly held belief in the importance of collaboration. It has rekindled my interest in RBL, which I see in practice at my kid’s pre-school and less and less frequently as kids progress through school. And it has certainly made me aware of the critical impact of school libraries and TLs on educational outcomes (thanks to Haycock’s searing report on poor Canada)” (9/3, A proud and beautiful people).

However, the breadth and responsibility of the teacher librarian’s role seemed overwhelming, summed up neatly by Anne Olsen in the Topic 1 sub-forum, “Just now the task of a Teacher Librarian seems at once impossibly worthy and . . . impossible” (7/3, About the impossible).

The measured response of Judy Bolton in the Topic 2 sub-forum was reassuring and inspiring. “Before a T/L even contemplates communicating her or his priorities to others, I believe that s/he must make them clear and palatable to her/himself. … So our first priority must be to ourselves…. a clear articulation, within our own mind, of what we must/ want / need to / CAN do in our individual situations” (9/3, First things first: communicating our priorities). It was good to be reminded that there might be an ideal role, but we must start from where we are and not feel intimidated by the task.

Reading about teaching and learning reminded me how much I love teaching, and that it is a part of the teacher librarian role I will relish. The learning theory behind Kuhlthau’s work inspired me, especially Dewey’s vision. I wrote in my blog entry Kuhlthau the Guru (12/4): “[T]o say in 1944 that a democratic society “must see that its members are educated for personal initiative and adaptability” (in Kuhlthau, 2004, p.15) is so progressive.” It also fits perfectly with the information literacy concept of empowering learners to cope with the rapid pace of change in the 21st century.

Collaboration is a topic I am passionate about and I assume, wrongly it seems, that everyone enjoys sharing and working with others as much as I do. In my forum post for Topic 3, I wrote: “would it not be reasonable for a principal to set up an expectation that TLs are included in grade meetings? Would teachers really feel imposed upon or threatened to have another professional joining their planning? Whether the TL would have time to do it is another question, but in theory, it seems simple enough. Or does it???!!!” (2/4, Am I out of touch with the real (school) world?) Several other posts from practising teachers and teacher librarians indicated that if fact many teachers out there keep a very closed shop and see collaboration as threatening and invasive. It’s a challenge I am ready to take on.

So, perhaps I am inspired enough by the potential for change to set aside my quiet vision of reading stories, shelving books and showing someone how to find Argentina in an atlas, though I will still relish those moments. I am becoming convinced of the importance of information literacy in this Web 2.0 world our students are growing up in, with which we must also engage if we want to help them learn. If I can make it through this course I hope I can get out there and make a difference.


Bolton, J. (2009) ETL401 Forum posting to sub-topic 2, First things first: communicating our priorities, 9/3/09.

Haycock, K. (2003). The crisis in Canada’s school libraries: The case for reform and reinvestment, Association of Canadian Publishers, Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved from CSU Library Reserve database.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Learning as a process, in Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services, Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, pp.13-27. Retrieved from CSU Library Reserve database.

Olsen, A. (2009) ETL401 Forums posting to sub-topic 1, About the impossible, 7/3/09.

Szentkuti, P. (2009) ETL401 Forums postings to sub-topics 1, 3. (Various entries).

Szentkuti, P. (2009) Pen’s TL Blog, (Various entries).

Wesch, M. (2007) Information R/evolution. Available at