I was lucky to have a “warm call” interview with Brenda, a teacher-librarian I had met a few years ago through my aunt. I met her when I dog-sat at her home for a weekend and I knew she would be willing to participate in this interview. When we met face-to-face I asked her the following questions:
- How do you get to be a teacher-librarian and how do you progress in your career?
- What is your typical day?
- How is the economy affecting your job?
In order to become a teacher-librarian you need to complete an undergraduate degree and a Bachelor of Education. Once you have some teaching experience you can apply for an additional qualification (AQ) in teacher-librarianship. Further education is a personal choice. It might involve two more AQ courses or a Master of Education in teacher-librarianship. Some teacher-librarians use their experience as a stepping stone for advancing into an administrative, a resource, or a co-ordinator role.
We discussed a typical day in her kindergarten to grade 5 setting. In the morning the library is open for teachers to gather resources. Brenda checks her e-mail for important messages from the library support team, administration or requests from teachers. There also may be time for her to prepare lessons for the day. Her timetable includes teaching lessons, book exchange, supervising library helpers, and yard duty. For one forty minute period each day Brenda has to fit in shelving, check-ins, planning, phone calls, dealing with any problems that occur and bathroom breaks. Other library jobs including processing books, repairs, and weeding must be done when there are a spare few minutes. Her day ends with a twenty minute yard duty supervising students as they leave.
Unfortunately, Brenda feels that the economy is effecting her job negatively. Because there is less money available for teaching staff, teacher-librarian positions have been reduced from full-time (1.0) to in some cases half-time (0.5). Brenda’s position is 0.8 library and 0.2 teaching kindergarten. This trend in cutbacks has affected some school libraries eliminating teacher-librarians completely or replacing them with Library Technicians. In addition to cuts in funding for teaching staff there have been cuts in library budgets affecting the purchase of resources. Even with funding reductions, teacher-librarians are trying to introduce new technologies and MakerSpaces (hands on activity space). There is a movement promoting the value of school libraries and teacher-librarians that may or may not affect future trends.
- Previously having met my interviewee
- Improved knowledge about teacher-librarians
- Very clear responses
- Enjoyable experience
- Questions answered fully
- Required clarification on some terms (AQ)
It was interesting that the trend to eliminate teacher-librarians could affect my job opportunities. When I was speaking with Brenda she expressed her concern about the elimination of teacher-librarians, not because it was affecting her job but because it will have a negative impact on student success. I did find out that a teacher-librarians job includes teaching, being a librarian and also aspects of a library technician’s job.