By Elizabeth Hutchinson @elizabethutch
Working as a librarian alongside teachers is something that I enjoy and find frustrating in equal measure. I completely understand that they have a tough job with so many pressures from senior leaders, parents and students and that there is very little time for anything else. Sometimes though it is like knocking my head against a brick wall trying to get teachers to understand how I can help and support them. The role of the school librarian as a keeper of books alone is long gone. If our budgets are ok, we provide so much more; from teaching digital and information literacy to providing access to good quality e-resources.
We understand the world is changing and we are changing with it but unless we find a way of working with teachers these resources will remain unused. Collaboration between teachers and librarians is essential in ensuring that students gain access to physical and online resources and the skills needed to research correctly.
I have always known that in order to make a difference in a school I needed to be involved at a senior level and in curriculum planning meetings. Saying that, it is hard to get the SMT to understand this, so you must have a plan. Talk, talk and talk some more. 75% of my job is letting teachers know what I do. Make yourself the expert and share through your PLN (Personal Learning Network), offer to present at teacher meetings, be there at the staff briefing, talk to the head teacher or SMT regularly and work with teachers who understand your role and you will see that wall begin to crumble.
For me digital literacy has been the breakthrough. It is not just about being able to use technology in a classroom or about our students typing the question into Google. It is the skill of being able to find, evaluate and use good quality information, with digital resources to teach that skill. This starts by students knowing and understanding how to use their online catalogue to find good quality books, websites and online resources and how to use their school library.
Elizabeth has worked for the Guernsey School Library Service since 2003 and was appointed Head of Service in 2014. Runner up in the 2016 LILAC Information Literacy awards, she has presented workshops internationally on the importance of using the school library effectively across the curriculum. She writes regularly on how school librarians can make a difference on her blog, and was published in a recent CILIP Update. She believes access to a good school library is a right of every child, and through information and digital literacy school librarians have the skills and expertise to support students and teachers to become future ready.