Compare and contrast the views of Herring, Valenza, Purcell and Lamb!

  • How should TL’s prioritise the roles they play in the school?


After reading all four viewpoints about the role of the TL it is interesting to see how each stance differs on the periphery but the core beliefs are the same – the infusing of core academic skills, love of learning and information and a dexterity in guiding, inspiring and teaching others.  The priorities of a TL in my view will be to do just that.  Other roles within the school, while important are secondary.  It is inspiring to read what Joyce Valenza has to say – she is so tech savvy and at the spear head of where teaching librarianship is going. 


It really comes back to examining the mission of the school library and how it fits into the workings of the school.  What are the expectations of the school community?  From that comes a clear guide as to what is a priority to ensure the smooth running of the library or information centre.  Herring states that, “Information services in schools should be related closely to the information needs of students and teachers.” (Herring, 2007. p 37) Purcell prioritises the work of at TL or ‘school library media specialist’ as falling into five categories – leader, program administrator, instructional partner, information specialist and teacher (Purcell, M. 2010. p 31).  Lamb states TL’s are ‘”teachers, leaders and advocates for reading, inquiry and learning.” (Lamb, A. 2011 p. 27) and Valenza has such a spread of priorities it is incredible and she focuses on the teaching, information, leading and orchestrating roles heavily. 


It is clear that the core set of priorities are: to be current, integral and a positive agent for educating not only students but the entire school community – including management to keep those fund allocations coming in!   It is also a priority for TL’s to be seen as the incredible asset they are in  teaching, managing, resourcing, implementing, collaborating, connecting, advocating and providing.


  • Are there other roles played by TL’S e.g. social roles?

The role of mentor is another role to be adopted by the TL – the idea of passing on the knowledge and wisdom.  I also find the concept of the TL as facilitator interesting as well.  We are moving beyond the confines of the library building and into the classroom and beyond the school day as well.  So the concept of resourcing a wider community where ever they are is an interesting one.  Our role is also changing to be one of a ‘pocket mentor’, especially if we adopt and produce the myriad of technological goodies prescribed by Valenza! 


As TL’s our role is also to inspire others through our own enthusiasm, constant re-invention and our embrace of all the new information technologies, formats and ideas that are streaming our way! 


  • How do Lamb’s views on the TL’S role compare and contrast with those of Herring and Purcell?


Herring and Purcell both focus on the administrative roles of the TL and the changes in their roles due to the changing technological demands but Lamb focuses far more on the role of TL as a key focal point of all new information technology – formats, platforms and education thereof.  Purcell gives equal weight in her differing roles and Herring acknowledges the massive input of information technology and the dynamic nature of it.  Lamb, however views the role of the TL almost exclusively through the lens of information technology – it is the singular derivative of the librarian’s role.


  • What existing tasks/roles do you think you as a TL could give up in order to be as proactive as Lamb and Valenza want you to be?


The demands placed upon the TL in the view of Lamb and Valenza are certainly daunting!  When they each write about what is in the purview of the TL, whether it is constant PD, uploading, supporting students to publish, creating wikis, educating them on digital citizenship, technological know-how, new apps, managing the collection, getting feedback on the collection etc. it is probably key that at good TL’s have a really good support staff and are great at delegating certain roles out to people within the library or technology department.  Roles if delegated would then not necessarily be ‘given up’ but perhaps managed better in the day to day running.  Of those roles described I honestly do not know which ones could be relinquished or outsourced.  They all seem so essential to the role of a great TL and I am in great admiration of both authors and how incredibly competent they are in this arena!  Perhaps the role of re-shelving books and the more menial tasks could be relegated to others, while the TL concentrates on creating pathfinders, weblinks and being available as a pocket resource 24/7!  I therefore reserve the right to see, as I gain further insight into the workings of libraries and the collective knowledge, what my answer to this question will be!


Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A. (2011).Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette.  Techtrends: LInking Research & Practice To Improve Learning. 55 (4), 27-36.

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, 29(3), 30-33.

Valenza, J. (2010) Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians – accessed through: on 4.8.13

About kblaich

I live in Melbourne, Australia, have one lovely husband, one delightful daughter, one bouncy son, lots of pets (2 dogs and 3 cats) and work at a primary school part time. I am currently studying my Masters in Teacher Librarianship through Charles Sturt University.
This entry was posted in ETL 401. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s