Monday, 24 September 2012

Blog Task 3 - Information Literacy Is More Than A Set Of Skills.

Information literacy is more than a set of skills.  The definitions of literacy and information literacy lend themselves to a complex set of skills and processes that, when combined, empowers both students and teachers to participate confidently in the world of learning and information.

Every teacher has their own definition of literacy, and for many, this evolves with experience.  My early definition was brief and general, stating that literacy is the ability to read and write.  Through time and experience, my definition of literacy has evolved to include the ability to read, write, use numbers and, to communicate and make meaning using these skills.  Langford (1998) concurs that literacy is more than the ability to read and write and suggests that the purposes of literacy have broadened as society has placed more value on literacy and as the world has advanced in areas of learning and technology.

Information literacy is the ability to seek and find information, evaluate it and use it effectively.  Langford (1998) suggests that information literacy is ever evolving as the information needs of society expand.  As this occurs, the skills set of information literate people increases and the need to employ information literacy skills to effect becomes pivotal.  Without the ability to use the skills effectively, the information literacy skills set remains exactly that; a set of skills.

Teacher librarians are dedicated to teaching students skills to participate in an information literate world.  As technology advances, and as information becomes more readily available via electronic and printed resources, the acquisition of information literacy skills could be seen to be consequential, however, it is one thing to be able to use a computer, enter in a search topic and bring up topic related resources, but another to be able to search effectively for appropriate information, evaluate the information and then use the information to construct knowledge and form opinions based on the knowledge.  Kuhlthau (2004) found that to be literate wasn’t just to recognise the need for information, but also the ability to create knowledge and meaning from the information found, igniting lifelong learning skills through the success of the information process.  Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process supports the concept of information literacy being more than a set of skills and Doyle (1996) as cited in Kuhlthau (2004) acknowledges the importance of the attainment of skills in the information process.  Kuhlthau also refers to Eisenberg and Berkowitz’s (1990) statement that information literacy is not library skills or computer skills or even information problem solving skills, but these skills work together and are necessary enhancers of information literacy. (Kuhlthau, 2004)

Eisenberg (2008) writes “information and technology literacy is clearly the basic skills set of the 21st century”.  Basic computer skills and being able to use Google does not qualify you as being information literate.  Information literacy is not just a set of skills, but the way the skills are used to support each other and to achieve the information requirements of the user.  It is the application of the skills in partnership with one another that makes the user truly information literate.


Eisenberg, M. (2008). Information Literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Kuhlthau, C. (2004). Information Search Process. Retrieved September 1st, 2012, from Carol Collier Kuhlthau:

Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: A Clarification. School Libraries Worldwide, 4(1), 59-72.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Blog Task 2 - The Teacher Librarian and the School Principal

“No one in the field of education can dispute the effect a principal has on the school library media program” (Everhart, 2006, p.38).

Ask any teacher librarian in a primary school what their role is, and the answers you receive will be as diverse as the school communities to which they belong.  Purcell (2010) identifies five roles of a school library media specialist, including Leader, Program Administrator, Instructional Partner, Information Specialist and Teacher.  Herring (2007) includes eleven possible roles of the teacher librarian, including Fiction and Non-fiction Advocate and Budget and Staff Manager as other possible roles.  First and foremost for any teacher librarian is their role as a teacher and Purcell (2010) writes “if school library media specialists are doing their job well, they are making a difference in the ways teachers teach and in the ways students learn”.  It should be noted that the roles of the teacher librarian mentioned do not stand alone.  The roles rely on one another and when performed effectively and efficiently, make the role of the teacher librarian indispensable. 

It is my belief that the roles of a teacher librarian in any school setting are dependent on the support of the School Principal.  The School Principal needs to share the same whole school learning vision as the teacher librarian for any library programs to be considered in the learning curriculum of a school.  The School Principal needs to “explicitly support collaborative educational goals and ensure that adequate resources are available for their accomplishment” (Farmer, 2007, p.56).  The teacher librarian’s role as collaborative partner underpins the success of the school library program by bringing information literacy skills learning into the everyday learning curriculum of the classroom.  Herring (2007), suggests “how students learn in the school library will be influenced by how they are encouraged to learn in the school as a whole”, and I believe that this is directly affected by the learning beliefs of the leaders of a school.

Oberg (2006) suggests that the teacher librarian can gain the respect and support of the school principal in three different ways; “by building professional credibility, effective communication and by working to advance school goals”.  Each suggestion is both valid and achievable and will provide beneficial results to the school, teachers and students.  As mentioned in my first assessment Blog Task, the school library could be viewed as a small business.  For the business to attract attention, there needs to be effective advertising and in this case, effective communication with the School Principal.  This can be done through communication with school leaders, collection of data and effective use of the data to support the work of the teacher librarian.  Opportunities for teaching and learning in the library need to be highlighted throughout the school and, the teacher librarian needs to advocate their skills as an information and literacy specialist.  To involve the wider school community, the services available in the library need to be highlighted to all teachers, students and their families.  As with many things in life, effective communication provides a solid foundation for a synergistic relationship between the School Principal and the teacher librarian. 

A School Principal cannot be forced to embrace the innovative learning programs that a teacher librarian can implement in the school library, however, with effective communication it would be remiss of the School Principal not to take notice.




Everhart, N. (2006, July). Principals' Evaluation of School Librarians: A Study of Strategic and Nonstrategic Evidence-based Approached. School Libraries Worldwide, 12, 38-51.

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher Librarians and the School Library. In S. Ferguson, Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga: Centre or Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

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

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do Is check Out Books, Right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 30-33.