After reading Herring(2007), Purcell(Dec 2010) and Lamb & Johnson(Dec2008), discuss questions below.

Compare and contrast Herring’s views with that of Purcell, and Lamb and Johnson.

What are some similarities and differences in the roles of TL bet Herring, Purcell and lamb and Johnson?

As a visual learner, I would like to summarise the similarities and differences of the roles of TL by mapping the various roles mentioned by the authors in the table below. An analysis of the table will follow suit.

I fully identify with the 5 roles put forth by Purcell but not the order of roles discussed in the article. I would rank the role of ‘instructional partner’ above the ‘leader’ role.  The number in brackets ( ) in the second column reflects my ranking of the importance of TL’s roles. Based on the 5 roles by Purcell, i have mapped the equivalent roles mentioned by Herring and Lamb & Johnson

Herring (2007)-multi-faceted Purcell (Nov/Dec 2010) Lamb & Johnson(Dec2008)
Information Literacy LeaderCurriculum Leader Leader                                    (4) SLMS as Teacher Leader
 Instructional Partner Instructional Partner          (1)   SLMS as Collaborators
Librarian; information specialist Information Specialists        (3) SLMS as Technologist
Teacher Teacher                                   (2)
Information Services ManagerWebsite developer
Budget ManagerStaff ManagerFiction and non-fiction advocate
Programme Administrator  (5)*(1) to (5)- My order of importance of the TL’s roles. The order is different from that discussed by Purcell’s in her article.

Discussion on similarities and differences in TL’s roles.
Like Lamb & Johnson(2008), I fully subscribe to the role of SLMS(TL) can play in helping to transform schools as a learning laboratory. With the development in Web 2.0 environment, the school library is the ideal venue or laboratory for deep learning to take place if the TL can work closely in partnership with the teachers. It is only thru collaboration and partnership with teachers in planning integrated information literacy and academic lesson modules would we see a steady and regular stream of students coming to the library, a hub of learning.

1)Instructional Partner: All 3 authors see the critical role of the TL as an instructional partner working hand in hand with teachers in curriculum design, lesson planning and assessment matters. This close collaboration is even more critical in order to effectively achieve 21st century skills competencies. With proper planning and application of guided inquiry pedagogies, students can be taught to use Web 2.0 technologies to do reflective writing and learning. To be more effective and relevant in the 21st century, Lamb & Johnson (2008) further emphasized the fast evolving ICT role that TL must play in order to harness and infuse the use of technology tools and resources into the curriculum and at the same time promote information and technology fluency.

2) Teacher
3) Information Specialist
To be a competent and respected instructional partner, TL will need to be a professionally trained classroom teacher and information specialist. With expertise in both professions, the TL be able to apply effective teaching pedagogies to match the different learning styles of students. The TL will then be better to co-plan a successful lesson with other classroom teachers.

4) Leader (in curriculum, instruction and technology)
Another common role mentioned by Purcell 2010 and Herring 2007 is that of TL’s leadership role. By being part of the senior staff attending various academic meetings and sitting in various school committees, will the TL be able to be an effective curriculum and instructional leader with credibility. Being part of the school senior administration will the TL be able to serve as an advocate to highlight the critical functions of media programmes in teaching and learning. Lamb & Johnson (2008) gave emphasis to the technology leadership role where where they described today’s TL is often needed to identify technology needs, provide instruction and staff development, and support effective use of technology in learning.

5)Programme Administrator
The TL programme administrator role as described by Purcell(2010) are listed below:

  • Manages all activities related to the library media programme,
  • Carry out library procedures and processes on a daily basis,
  • Responsible for acquisition, organization of storage, distribution, retrieval, maintenance, administration and evaluation of a large quantity of materials and equipment,
  • Being knowledgeable about all members of their learning community to provide resources and services to meet their needs,
  • Promote media programmes to ensure all patrons are utilizing valuable resources available,
  • Work with non-readers (both illiterate and alliterate),
  • Develop and enforce library and school policies,
  • supervise volunteers and other library staff,
  • Participate in public relations activities,
  • Maintain accurate material inventory,
  • Oversee the circulation and automation systems,
  • Attend staff and committee meetings,
  • Review and understand yearly budgets, and
  • Select, procure and process materials for circulation.

Based on Purchell’s listing above, one can see similarities in Herring’s (2007) TL roles namely, Information Services Manager, Website developer, Budget Manager, Staff Manager, Fiction and non-fiction advocate. Lamb & Johnson did not delve very much on the programme administrator roles in their article. However, they did emphasize the importance of TL as a technologist facilitating learning in the Web 2.0 world. They highlighted how some school libraries promoted their  library media programmes and resources (fiction and non-fiction) through the use of a dynamic school library website which appeals to students. One very interesting example is that of Springfield Township High School Virtual library.

Herring (2007) has similarly shared on the benefits of a well-designed library website that should ideally be linked to the school website. A user-friendly website designed with input from students will certainly appeal to the student population and will likely to be more successful in drawing more students to use the library’s resources and instructional materials. The Z generation students will probably have seen far more interesting, exciting and interactive websites. As such their input on how the school library website should show look like will be of relevance as the library website is designed with them as the target audience. Their involvement in the design of the website interface may just result in greater ownership by the students who may in turn be the active agents to promote the school website thru’ their sharing and broadcast via social networks. Promotion of the library website may go viral among the student population.

How should TLs prioritise the roles they play in the school?
In view of the TL’s multifarious roles, the TL should prioritise their roles according to the needs of the students and staff in the school community. Not forgetting supporting the existing and new curriculum needs.

Are there other roles played by TLs, e.g. social roles?
In my school library, the library teacher coordinator also assumes other roles:
1) Counsellor and disciplinarian- depending on students misdemeanor in the library, the TL will spend time to counsel and at times discipline misbehavior. Cases are alerted to the class form teacher and if offence is serious, the TL also mete out corrective work order in the library. This  is in the hope that the student will learn from his mistakes. If situation calls for meeting with parents of recalcitrant, TL will work with form teacher to meet up with parents.

2) Liaison between school and parent-volunteers. TL schedules parent volunteers to help out in the library and organises welcome breakfast and ‘get to know new parents’ session.

3) TL is also in charge of the school library club. This involves guiding and training pupil librarians on some of the task they can assist in the library. Pupils are trained to help with tidying up the shelves and also assume library prefect roles. They will help police the library to help ensure orderliness among users.

  • How do Lamb and Johnson’s views on the TL’s role compare and contrast with those of Purcell?
    Though not as comprehensive as the 5 roles put forward by Purcell (2010), Lamb and Johnson(2008) explanation of the 3 TL’s roles was made in relation to the influence played by rapid development in information technology. They advocated the crucial roles of TL in teaching 21st century skills and competencies brought about by the advent of Web 2.0. The TL in their roles as technologist, teacher-leader and collaborator can effectively apply information and technology resources to affect learning and transform the library as the ‘new and happening’ learning laboratory or hub. The added roles of the TL in Web 2.0 world are succinctly captured in their article entitled, “SLMS 2.0: a dynamic collaborator, teacher and technologist.”
  • What existing tasks/roles do you think you as a TL could give up in order to be as proactive as Lamb and Johnson want you to be?
    Definitely administrative roles such as cataloguing, circulation and stockcheck roles could be farmed out to para-professionals. Similarly school/library website design cum updates, portal maintenance and IT staff development training could be similarly handled by ICT experts. In my school (Y7-12) with a population of close to 5,000 students, the school has started an Educational Technology Department to look into various matters related to physical infrastructure, software, portal maintenance and staff ICT training provision. This role differentiation and clarification have certainly helped reduced and streamlined the multi-faceted roles of TL.

After reading Purcell’s article, think about:

  • whether you agree with the roles Purcell identifies.
    Yes. I can certainly identify with the 5 roles put forth by Purcell. Like Herring(2007), Purcell (2010) has similarly described the multifarious roles assumed by TL daily. Chart 2 in her article typifying an example of a completed time study observation sheet contains entries which I can truly identify with. As a teacher, I am already in school by 6.50am in the morning, way earlier than the library support staff. I will unlock the library, turn on lights and computers etc. While I can identify with the roles and responsibilities mentioned, I do not agree that TL should be taking on so many of the listed programme administrative job, many of which can be carried out with library support staff. I also agree fully with Purcell that the administrative and clerical duties of cataloging and processing shd be left to paraprofessional while the TL shd focus more of her time and attention to actively engage students and to work in collaboration with teachers to plan inquiry learning lessons. The need for role clarification and job scope definition of a TL is needed especially in the light of changes in educational landscape brought about by Web 2.0. TL will need to be adaptable and embrace new constructivist pedagogies (guided inquiry) aligned rapid to changes brought about by Web 2.0 and the information access accompanying tools (iPads, iPhones, black berries etc).
  •  whether you would change the order of the roles she identifies, e.g. should teacher come first?

As discussed earlier, (see summary table above), I would change the order of roles identified by Purcell. My new preferred order would be (1) Instructional Partner  (2) Teacher (3) Information Specialist (4) Leader   (5) Programme Adminstrator