Topic 2 – Herring. Purcell, Lamb and Valenza

Herring (2007), Purcell (2010), Lamb (2011) and Valenza (2010) – at a glance

As a common point, the authors see the TL as preparing information literate students and continuing as a valued position within schools however there are slight variations concerning priorities within the role and methods with which to remain relevant. Valenza (2010) presents a comprehensive manifesto which encourages the TL to become proactive, enthusiastic and maintain a revised imaginative vision. Purcell (2010) also encourages reflective practice to increase effectiveness however gaining funds also warrants consideration as a priority. Lamb (2011) explores the concept of a ‘palette’ of tools to assist school media specialists in dealing with challenges of the role however Herring (2007) feels that the role continues to change and the TL must adapt. All authors consider the TL role as multifaceted which requires prioritising or some sort of organisation.

TL roles and prioritising

Herring (2007) and Lamb (2011) realise that it is impossble for a TL to maintain all roles and priorities are dictated by the needs of the whole school whereas Purcell (2010) suggests TLs construct a time study and allocate sufficient time to high priority tasks. Valenza (2010) provides an ideal checklist which is fantastic in theory although in practice situations dictated by time, staff and environment may mean less success in this author’s eyes. Considering the theory, it is obvious that the quest to define or list the roles of a TL could go on for eons. There is always the challenge of juggling workload and time however priorities and roles will differ depending on context and resources.

Teacher librarians – another role

Lamb (2011) explores the idea of appropriate attitudes and dispositions of a TL. One would hope that a TL is approachable, helpful and supportive. Such qualities would surely attract students and staff alike to the library. Providing welcoming and safe environment means the TL also adopts a social role within the school for example advisor or parent figure.

Being proactive – what has to give?

Considering the myriad of tasks listed within the Readings, I believe in order to be proactive one must ‘get tough’ and decide which tasks they should not own to begin with. For example, jobs such as repairs or occupational health and safety considerations are often left to TLs and perhaps can be delegated to appropriate school members. Such tasks take time from the essential role of TL and need to be managed better.

The Readings and the podcasts – do I fit in?

I certainly will try to acheive many of the qualities and roles expressed within these sources however I will also endeavour to remain realistic and focus on the bigger picture. This would include prioritising with consideration of my context, staying organised, planning, communicating, collaborating and staying fresh (maybe pinning up Valenza’s poster!). Considering Purcell’s (2010) order, I would not say the teacher always comes first. Certainly, at times teachers’ may, although the needs or focus group maybe different with each context. Either way, the process of collaboration with teachers and other school members is central to effective management.


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, 55(4), 27-36.

Purcell, M. (2010, November/December). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection, 30-33.

Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. In teacher librarian: The journal for school library professionals. Retrieved from


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