the information service manager’s hat

hat_ismFitting as snugly as the first two, the third hat is that of the information services manager, perhaps the most complex of the three because it is the one that combines both the T and side of Teacher Librarian and is the one that most clearly demonstrates why we have those post-grad qualifications. Learning for the Future (2nd edition) (ASLA & ALIA, 2001) describes this hat as the one which requires the TL to 

develop and implement strategies for evaluating the collection and for determining curriculum and student needs within the context of identified school priorities


The TL needs to put on a teacher’s hat and know

  • the learning needs, styles, interests and abilities of the students who will access the collection, including any special needs relating to cultural, ethnic, social, religious, and language issues as well as specific requirements relating to individual children
  • the teaching needs of the staff so they have access to the resources that will support the design and delivery of the curriculum
  • the philosophy and ethos of the school and the expectations of the parents who send their children there so that, on the whole, the collection is aligned to this
  • the philosophies, pedagogies and programs on which the curriculum is built and delivered so that challenges can be met and decisions defended
  • the breadth of the curriculum across all key learning areas and across-curriculum perspectives, as well as new initiatives including national requirements such as the Australian National Curriculum or the US Common Core Standards,  as well as those areas that the school has identified as areas for development

Then the librarian’s hat needs to be worn so the TL can

  • identify and negotiate priorities for collection development so that this is fair, equitable and meets needs, and decisions and expenditure are defensible
  • prepare, submit and disburse a budget that enables the collection to move forward 
  • locate potential resources
  • evaluate them according to the selection criteria identified in the Collection Policy, juggling general and specific criteria and making an informed judgement about their suitability and likely use
  • acquire them according to the school’s policies and procedures
  • put in motion the process that will get them from the delivery van or online source to the hands and eyes of the users now and in the future, a series of steps that can be complex and time-consuming
  • account for the disbursement of monies and resources through formal process such as stocktake and an annual report

Finally, both hats have to be worn at the same time as the newly-acquired resources are promoted and displayed so that their existence is widely known and they are used.

In the past, this wasn’t such a complex task because the format focus of the collection was print, with some audio-visual resources to add variety.  But with technological developments, there are a multitude of other formats and factors to consider and what we provide access to is as important as what we acquire.  So the TL also has to know

  • the access to ICT devices and delivery that staff and students have both within and beyond the school so that if online resources are acquired, they can be easily used
  • the individual preferences for a particular format and whether this is the best for the teaching purpose
  • the research underpinning current pedagogy and how this impacts on format selection, such as that relating to onscreen reading and the need for a foundation of skills built on print
  • how to map and evaluate the collection so that it meets the needs of all its users and ensure that it remains relevant and current
  • how to create and maintain a library landscape that is inviting and appealing to users as well as showcasing their learning

On top of all that, the TL also has to be able to write the  policies and procedures that encapsulate the decisions and the thinking that underpins and justifies them so that collection development remains constant and consistent regardless of who is at the helm.


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