Information literacy: more than a set of skills.

One of the main roles of the teacher librarian involves teaching and supporting student’s information literacy skills through the use of information literacy models. Information literacy is a complex process involving locating, using and communicating information effectively. It is not merely a set of skills, but a metacognitive process that enables the learner to become literate and succeed in all areas of life.

Abilock (2004, p.1) defines information literacy as a ‘transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes’. This definition indicates that there is a set of information literacy skills that need to be applied to any given situation for a successful outcome. For the process to be successful, however, the participant must realize how and when to use the skills in educational and life situations.

Weiner (2010) suggests that information literacy encompasses emerging literacies including technology literacy, media literacy and health literacy. The very idea that information literacy covers all disciplines, is metacognitive and shapes ones way of thinking indicates that it is much more than a set of skills. These skills, however, are critical to the success of solving problems, and as teacher librarians we must ensure that students have access and support in using information literacy models and their associated skills in ‘combination’ with  meaningful situations. This will ensure that we develop a continuous learning mindset among our students.

There are many models of information literacy that teacher librarians can use to teach information literacy skills to students.  Kuhlthau’s (2004) information search process model, Eisenberg (2008) Big 6 model and the New South Wales Department of Education and Training model (2007) are just three examples Eisenberg (2008, p. 40) highlights the key factor in all the models is the ‘‘process’ – understanding that information skills are not isolated incidents, but rather are connected activities that encompass a way of thinking about and using information’. This ‘process’ needs to be acquired with through  the use of information literacy models throughout ones education.

The teacher librarian is in a unique position to provide information literacy to both students and teachers. They understand the information literacy process and the skills needed to be successful. Eisenberg (2008) & Langford (1998) indicate that information literacy skills need to be taught within the curriculum and not in isolation. Therefore teacher librarians need to ensure they develop collaborative practices with classroom teachers in devising and teaching units of work that are inclusive of information literacy processes. This will allow students opportunities to practice and refine their information literacy skills.

Literature surrounding information literacy indicates it is a prerequisite for lifelong learning (Bundy 2004, Langford 1998 & Herring 2006). It is also apparent that information literate citizens are able to better deal with the vast amount of information available in the 21st century and to make decisions based on the synthesizing of this information in there day to day life. Therefore, developing information literacy among our students requires more than a set of skills, it involves knowing how to learn (Langford, 1998, p.6). The set of skills provided by many information literacy models provides a framework to develop the information literacy ‘process’ and lifelong learning of the individual and thus allowing them to better succeed in life.


Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. In Noodletools. Retrieved from

Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

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

Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. In From Now On The Educational Technology Journal.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training (2007) School libraries and information literacy. Retrieved from

Weiner, S. (2010) Information Literacy: A Neglected Core Competency. In EDUCAUSE REVIEW online. Retrieved from


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:

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

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. Retrieved on 3rd September 2013

ETL401 Blog Assignment No. 1 – The Teacher Librarian and Principal Support.

The success of the teacher librarian’s role within a school and the library program for which they develop and deliver relies heavily on the support of the Principal. Teacher librarians need to garner this support through communicating their role and how this role directly results in increased student achievement. Teacher librarians also need to be visible within the school and be a leader in the collaborative process.

The Australian School Library Association identifies the teacher librarian’s role as the following,

“Teacher librarians support and implement the vision of their school communities through advocating and building effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners. A teacher librarian holds recognised teaching qualifications and qualifications in librarianship”. (ASLA, 2004)

Much literature and surveys provide strong evidence of the critical impact a Principal’s support has on the success or failure of a library program. (Oberg, 2006 and Hartzell).

A supportive Principal will base their support through teacher librarian respect, by promoting the teacher librarian and the specialised skills they possess to teachers within the school, by highlighting the benefits and importance of the library program in relation to improving student learning outcomes, by being an advocate of teacher – teacher librarian collaboration and by providing adequate resources, policy and modified schedules so that this collaboration can be achieved. (Oberg, 2006).

There is a multitude of literature that highlights the benefits of teacher – teacher librarian collaboration in developing, delivering and evaluating student lessons/programs/outcomes and the positive impact this collaboration has on student learning.

Haycock (2007, pg 25) identifies,

“collaboration or partnering between classroom teachers and teacher librarians as an effective method of improving student learning, by more than 20% on measures of achievement in some studies”.

Therefore collaboration with teaching staff and fostering this collaboration should be one of the major roles of the teacher librarian and requires the support of the Principal. Haycock (2007) found that where the Principal expected teachers and the teacher librarian to plan and collaborate, provided leadership, allocated sufficient funding and developed flexible scheduling collaboration was more likely to take place. Morris (2007) holds similar views in relation to the success of collaboration highlighting visibility and communication by the Principal as critical to the success of collaboration.

So if the Principal’s support is so critical to the success of the teacher librarian being an integral part of the learning process for students how do they gain their support.

Oberg (2006, p 15 – 16) suggests that teacher librarians gain the support of their principal in 3 ways,

“by building their professional credibility, by communicating effectively with principals, and by working to advance school goals”.

Building professional credibility does not stop at obtaining librarianship qualifications but putting this knowledge into practice within the school setting. Providing professional development to staff and contributing as school leaders increases the librarian’s visibility and credibility.

Kaplan (2007) and Hartzell (2009) both express the concern that administrators and teaching staff have little to no formal training or ideas on what a teacher librarian’s role in the school should be, what it looks like or how the teacher librarian can contribute to school effectiveness. Therefore the teacher librarian needs to communicate this with the Principal.

Although Principal support is a critical factor in relation to the success of any library program, teacher librarian’s must remember that resources provided such as time and money are just that. They do not ‘make’ a librarian program but aid it. The teacher librarian needs to bring to the table enthusiasm, expertise, leadership and innovative skills so that staff members can clearly see the benefits of the collaborative and information seeking skills they contribute to student learning. This in turn will have the largest effect on staff perceptions of the teacher librarian and their willingness to be involved in collaboration.


Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) & Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians,

‘What’s It Take?’  (presented at the Washington White House Conference on School Libraries in 2002) Retrieved from

‘Librarian-proof libraries? Guest rant by Gary Hartzell’ (posted on Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk blog in 2009) Retrieved from

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.Retrieved from

Kaplan, A. G. (2007). Is your school librarian ‘highly qualified’? Phi Delta Kappan, 89(4), 300-303.Retrieved from

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.Retrieved from

Valenza’s, J. (2010) Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians Retrieved from


anxious adj. 1 mentally troubled. 2 causing or marked by anxiety (anxious moment). 3 eagerly or uneasily wanting or trying (anxious for you to succeed; anxious to please).


Totally describes the way I have been feeling the past couple of days, trying to navigate the interact site, collate readings, sort through the massive amount of info and basically juggle this thing called ‘study’ with everyday hectic life.

Today’s ‘to do’ list number one is now accomplished – setting up this blog, now onto number 2 – back tracking to the readings I haven’t yet gotten to! Better late then never, I’ve entered the catch up road!