Upon commencing this unit I noted in my first blog entry that I had a lot to learn (Coussins, 2012a). I soon discovered that one of the first things for me to grasp was a better understanding of Information Literacy (IL). The third blog task allowed me to address this topic (Coussins, 2012d). Here I wrote how IL is subject to a range of different interpretations and that there is not even agreement on whether it is a concept, a process or perhaps something else altogether (Langford, 1998). I have to say that reading this made me feel a little less lost and alone in the concept – but how was this going to help me in a future career as a teacher-librarian?
From a school perspective I came to understand that the term “information literacy” has come to be used more in place of the term “information skills’, the reason being that school librarians and teachers aim to develop students who are “information literate” (Herring and Tarter, 2007). In a deeper sense, this definition of IL means developing students whose skills include the ability to identify the purpose of the information they’re seeking; to source and evaluate this information; use it to produce relevant work; and to reflect on, then transfer the use of these skills to a range of other school and non-school related environments (Herring and Tarter, 2007).
From this point I began to understand how important the ability to understand and successfully use IL models was to a teacher-librarian’s skill set.
One model I found particularly interesting and thought provoking was the Information Search Process (ISP). As I noted in the second blog task (Coussins, 2012c), the ISP is a model that explores the thoughts, feelings tasks and actions associated with the research process (Kracker, 2012). Also noted here was that from the research that lead to the ISP came Guided Inquiry (Kuhlthau and Maniotes, 2010). This was another concept I found particularly interesting and helpful on my journey to understanding IL and how the teacher-librarian can positively impact upon it.
Among other literacy outcomes, Guided Inquiry allows students to also carry out learning in the areas of curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence and social skills (Kuhlthau and Maniotes, 2010). With this in mind I was able to draw parallels with the American Association of School Librarians (2009) which specifically states that the teacher-librarian empowers students through measures including support in reading, sourcing information in all its formats, building and creating new knowledge, successfully collaborating with others and evaluating one’s own performance.
From this I immediately drew parallels between what Guided inquiry approach requires of students, and the everyday expectations of a successful teacher-librarian. The successful teacher-librarian should already be well versed in how to carry out an effective Guided Inquiry approach – for their own professional purposes, for use in assisting students and in teaching students themselves in how to use such approaches. The Guided Inquiry approach provided me with a great example of how the teacher-librarian role and IL concepts fit together like hand in glove!
I’ve also found collaboration and the role of the teacher-librarian to be very enlightening. Learning through inquiry is multi-faceted and requires teacher librarians to work as part of collaborative teams for optimum success (Kuhlthau and Maniotes, 2010).
In the first blog task I highlighted (Coussins, 2012b) the importance of collaboration with the principal. This included pointing out how critical it was that teacher-librarians effectively communicate with their principals and educate them on what their role involves, as well as their vision and goals for the school library program in general (Oberg 2006).
However, I found it very interesting to explore just how wide and varied the consultation and collaborative role of a teacher-librarian is. As Lamb (2011) puts it, from the five-year-old students to each member of the school board, understanding all stakeholders is the key to an effective school library program. My eyes were opening to just how much the role encompassed. This was a big job!
My view of the teacher-librarian role was further developed when learning of the importance of using a range of different publishing platforms, examples including library specific online chat rooms, wikis and blogs (Valenza, 2011). While I knew that the use of ICT was a large and growing aspect of the teacher-librarian’s role, I had not considered fully ICT options such as these. This excited me. I also began to understand in new ways how my current knowledge and use of the ELT401 online forums might be beneficial to me in a future life as a teacher-librarian.
However, in closing I want to return to my first topic. To me, developing my understanding of IL and the use of information literacy models and concepts by teacher-librarians has shaped my view of this role more than anything else because so much of it was completely new, unexpected and unconsidered by me previously.
American Association of School Librarians (AASL), (2009), Empowering learners: guidelines of school library media programs, American Association of School Librarians (AASL).
Coussins, J. (2012a). Starting out….. In Library Landscape. Retrieved October 4th, 2012 from: https://librarylandscape.wordpress.com/
Coussins, J. (2012b). Teacher-librarian practice with regard to principal support (Blog Task #1). In Library Landscape. Retrieved October 4th, 2012 from: https://librarylandscape.wordpress.com/
Coussins, J. (2012c). Blog task 2: The role of the TL in practice with regard to implementing a Guided Inquiry approach. In Library Landscape. Retrieved October 4th, 2012 from: https://librarylandscape.wordpress.com/
Coussins, J. (2012d). Blog Task #3: Information Literacy – more than a set of skills? Retrieved October 5th, 2012 from: https://librarylandscape.wordpress.com/
Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library and Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.
Herring, J. and Tarter, A. (2007). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, 23-27.
Kuhlthau, C. C., and Maniotes, L. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21.
Kracker, J. (2012), Research Anxiety and Students’ Perceptions of Research: An Experiment. Part 1, Effect of Teaching Kuhlthau’s ISP Model, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Feb 1 2001; 53(4):282-94.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. Techtrends: Linking Research and Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3
Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification, School Libraries Worldwide. vol. 4, no. 1, 1998, pp. 59-72
Oberg, D. (2006), Developing the respect and support of school administrators, Teacher Librarian; Feb 2006.
Valenza, J. (2011), Fully Loaded: Outfitting a Teacher Librarian for the 21st Century. Here’s What It Takes. School Library Journal, January 1, 2011, 57(1).