Evidence Based Practice and the Teacher Librarian

The ASLA (2004) Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians states, “Excellent teacher librarians: use evidence to inform programs and services” under the ‘evaluation’ standard.  Evidence based practice provides a framework for teacher librarians to collect and analyse evidence related to library programs and the impact these programs have on student achievement.

Evidenced-based practice is the “conscientious, judicious and explicit use of best research evidence in making decisions about the instructional role of the school librarian” (Todd, 2007, p.62). It is a framework that involves collecting and analysing evidence to guide planning, implementation and instruction of library programs and determining the effectiveness of these programs in relation to student outcomes. The evidence attained is combined with the librarian’s expertise and experience to inform best practice.  (Todd, 2007, p.60 – 63).

There are two main sources of evidence librarians can utilise. Firstly that derived from research literature gathered and analysed by others concerning best practice and secondly locally derived evidence by the teacher librarian.

Teacher librarians need to have an exemplary understanding of the research literature available and be capable of determining its credibility. It is essential teacher librarians communicate the main ideas surrounding the research in regard to best teaching practice to the principal, executive and teaching staff. Ensuring that staff are aware of current literature regarding best professional practice and the benefits this practice has on student achievement will provide advocacy for the teacher librarian role (Todd, 2007; Oberg, 2002).

Koechlin & Zwann (2002) provide a detailed list of indicators the teacher librarian can use to measure the success of library programs including student surveys, learning logs, circulation data and research portfolios. Lamb & Johnson (2004 – 2007a & b) suggest teacher librarians use traditional assessments to determine the effectiveness of collaborative teaching activities on student learning to include test scores, rubrics, evaluation criteria and checklists.  This collection of local evidence teamed with empirical research and the experience and expertise of the teacher librarian provides solid groundwork in determining best practice and instruction in relation to student learning Todd (2007).

Todd (2007, p.64) provides a 3 phase integrated framework for evidence based practice: “evidence for practice, evidence in practice, and evidence of practice”.

The process is a cycle that centers evidence on student learning outcomes. The teacher librarian needs to ensure that evidence gathered is outcomes based. That is related directly to curriculum standards and syllabus outcomes, curriculum content, critical thinking skills, knowledge of curriculum content and students skills related to accessing and evaluating information (Todd, 2008,p.41).

Evidence based practice provides teacher librarians a framework to inform teaching instruction, library programs and services that are centered on student outcomes and determine whether these programs boost student learning. It is a continuous process that builds support for the school library and collaboration between the teacher librarian and classroom teacher. The end result being increased achievement of students.


Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) & Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, Retrieved from: http://www.alia.org.au/policies/TLstandards.pdf

Koechlin, C. & Zwaan, S. (2002) Making library programs count: Where’s the evidence? School Libraries in Canada. 2002, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p21. 3p. 1 Black and White Photograph, 1 Chart.

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2004-2007a). Library media program: Evidence-based decision making. The School Library Media Specialist. Retrieved September 4, 2013, from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evidence.html

Oberg, D. (2002) Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School Libraries in Canada. Vol. 22 Issue 2, p10 – 13.

Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidenced-based practice and school libraries : from advocacy to action. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY : Libraries Unlimited.

Todd, R. J. (2008) School libraries and evidence-based practice: A position statement. Synergy 6, 1. Pp. 35 – 46.http://www.somerset.qld.edu.au/elearn/watlcdfy/files/syn6_1_08_rt.pdf Retrieved on 3rd September 2013


One thought on “Evidence Based Practice and the Teacher Librarian

  1. Hi Simone,

    This is a well written and thoughtful blog task 2. The easiest tool available to us for evidence-based practice is the SLIM Toolkit – (School Library Impact Measure) – which is part of Guided Inquiry. It is a simple questionnaire students take at beginning, middle and end of their inquiry, which has three purposes – allowing them to consolildate and express their emerging knowledge, to let us know what difficulties they are having, as well as providing data which can be fairly easily sorted to provide evidence of the growth in deep knowledge. It’s available from CiSSL, and is Ross Todd’s creation. Providing grades for process in assignments also proves the difference we make in student learning.
    ETL401 Subject Team

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