The Teacher-Librarian in the Learning Commons

March 26, 2012 (0 Comments)

Posted by: ASLC

In our February 23rd post on What is a Learning Commons, Lissa and I ended the post by asking readers to think about how the role of the teacher-librarian plays in the learning commons. I thought for this post I would continue the conversation by attempting to answer the question: As school libraries move towards the learning commons model how has the role of the teacher librarian evolved?

I have been a teacher-librarian for four years now so being relatively new I can’t talk about the far past but I know when I first began, my job was finding books and resources for assignments teachers developed. We would both work in isolation--the teacher developed an assignment, I would then find the supporting materials. The students would come to the library and I would introduce the resources through a pathfinder and then the students would get to work. Very seldom was I out of the library in the classroom with students; rarely was I involved in the developing of the assignment and I was never in the classroom working with the students prior to the research phase of the assignment. The library was open from 8:00 until 4:00 Monday to Friday and that was when I was available to help students and staff.

I think the biggest change is philosophical and the idea of schools being a learning community where the learning commons and the teacher-librarian are key in seeing this big picture and bringing the learning community together. Sometimes this occurs in the library...sometimes in the classroom...and sometimes in a virtual space. Learning is no longer isolated by subject or space.

Now, I have a virtual library, that not only allows students and teachers access to our resources, this virtual space allows for conversation and participation for the community through twitter feeds, our book blogs and tutorials on how to use web 2.0 tools. As well, it showcases our student work through book trailers, student created comics, glogsters and student blogs. The library resources are now embedded in many classrooms as I work with teachers building inquiry units. I am now in the classroom working with both students and teachers incorporating new technologies and resources in the work they do. I am working with teachers linking subjects together in inquiry assignments so subjects are no longer being learnt in isolation. Now, some of our roles remain the same and I think they need to. I am still responsible for being up to date on the best and latest resources, sharing this knowledge with students and teachers, ordering the resources, maintaining the collection and providing readers’ advisory. But my role has expanded and grown as we move towards a learning community. Anyone who says that the teacher-librarian is a dying breed is wrong!!

I am giving a high school perspective of how the role of the teacher-librarian evolves in the learning commons model. I asked Fern Rierson, an elementary teacher-librarian for her take on the role we have and here is her response:

For me, being a teacher-librarian is many things:

  • It is about …being a Change Agent….who helps envision and shows the way to change through places and in learning/teaching pedagogy. 
  • “I can’t believe what we have learned as teachers in such a short period of time. Ididn’t know what I didn’t know.”
  • It is about… Empowering Others.... to learn in ways they hadn’t considered before and teachers, in risk-taking to learn with their students, instead of being the expert. “Can I make an Animoto about other topics Earth Day, now that I know how to use Animoto?” 
  • It is about …Leading the Way by example even if you don’t know exactly where it will take you and others. “I’ve never done this with Grade 1’s before, but would you like to try this with me”
  • It is about…being a Lighthouse Keeper …..Lighting the way to literacy…in many formats. “We have the best books in our library commons!” “Can I show the book trailer I made about my favourite book?”

Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto of a 21st Century Librarian really hones in on the role of the Teacher-Librarian in the Learning Commons and is something I definately use as my check list as I continue my evolution.

I hope that you will join in the conversation this week. What is our role in the learning commons? Can you give examples of how you facilitate learning? Build community? or Perhaps you have a question about the topic of this week’s post?

by Kelly Reierson



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2015 ORC Information Evenings, Calgary Alberta

Join the ORC  and the Alberta School Library Council (ASLC) South Regional for two evenings of ORC resource training. These evenings will provide information about new resources, and new resource features that are ideal for students in K-6 and 7-12. In addition, ways in which ORC resources can support information literacy skills while teaching curriculum will be discussed.

Why not bring a friend this year? It is always a great idea to attend a professional development event with a colleague. This allows for continued discussion, idea generation and support with implementation following the PD experience. It may also mean that there are two experts available to support your school staff.  

Can't join us for the entire evening? No problem! Feel free to join in when you are able or leave early if needed. The sessions for both evenings will be organized so that they chunk resources by the curricular area they support. For a timeline of each evening please see the event RSVP webpage on the ORC Support Site.
School Location:
Chinook Learning Services - Viscount Bennett Centre
2519 Richmond Road SW
Calgary, Alberta T3E 4M2
Time: 4:30 - 7:00 pm
Sessions Offered:
January 14, 2015 
Resources that Support Learning in K-6

January 15, 2015
Resources to Support the Grade 7-12 Curriculum

RSVP Webpage (

ORC Grant-In-Aid Approved for 2014/2015

The Online Reference Centre (ORC) grant-in-aid for 2014/2015 has been approved! This means that the ORC will remain available to all Alberta K-12 students, parents, staff and pre-service teachers.

The ORC is currently in the process of firming up its 2014/2015 collection. Although the ORC is working with the same budget this year, US exchange rates have changed, and this has an impact, since many of the ORC contracts are paid to US publishers in US funds. The ORC Coordinator is working with the current publishers to see what can be done about maintaining the current collection despite changing financial circumstances.

Find the ORC at or visit the ORC Support Site at