#L4FL18 Learning from others to innovate for learners: information literacy, fluency and the new world of learning

NSW DoE Libraries for Future Learners Conference October 19, 2018

This keynote was to be delivered by Dr Marcia Mardis, Florida State University based Library Specialist and academic, who had to cancel due to hurricane damage (sending her messages of good will from Australia!). So, June Wall, Library Coordinator for NSW Department of Education (NSW DoE), stepped in and delivered a stirring keynote that inspired and encouraged an audience of over 300 Teacher Librarians from a wide range of schools across NSW. Many of the audience had travelled long distances and it turned out the travel was well worth the effort.

My notes from June’s presentation have been fleshed out in this post and some links provided to other internet resources. This is a deep water keynote! You’re going to need more than swimmers and a towel! June has a way of presenting deep thinking in chewable chunks and she covered a LOT of ground in a relatively short presentation. I have only included images that I was sure about permissions for and knew the heritage of the graphic. I hope I have done credit to the clarity that June attempted to achieve.

The idea was to give an introduction to what has been achieved in recent times by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and an explanation of how they achieved their Future Ready Libraries focus. June’s intent was to begin the process of getting NSW Teacher Librarians(TL) to consider what we need to revisit, rewrite, reconfigure in our core policy in order to meet the challenges of future focused learning in NSW DoE schools.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) standards document was developed using a process that may or may not be useful to us in NSW. However, it is a case study that we can certainly learn from.

They started by investigating their core beliefs, their shared history, their external influences and established their Shared Foundations (link).

  • Inquire
  • Collaborate
  • Explore
  • Include
  • Curate
  • Engage

These foundation statements may or may not apply to our circumstances.

They settled on a model of four domains as the core values and competencies being advanced through their work in the school library.

  • Think
  • Create
  • Share
  • Grow

For each of the Shared Foundations these domains provide a framework that goes with it.

A closer look at these frameworks will be possible once the resources from this conference are made available to conference attendees by June Wall in the coming weeks.

What the US have achieved within their Shared Foundations is to use the four domains, and for each of those domains, they’re taking it from the point of view of “what does the learner need to know?” i.e. What are the learner competencies required? What are the Teacher Librarian competencies required? How does the school library align with this framework?

For each of these areas they have applied the standards they have developed – a practical approach to the whole.

This approach really drills down to the student outcomes that we all want as the focus for our work as Teacher Librarians. If we want a student to be able to inquire well then our work has to help them to develop the information fluency they need. They need

  • the skills to formulate the questions they need to answer for their personal interest or curricular topic
  • to have access to their prior and context knowledge for the topic they are exploring and achieve new meaning
  • the information access skills to find the answers they seek.

The AASL framework is the core of what these student outcomes come from.

There’s not a difference in what we are trying to achieve here in NSW, those outcomes, but there is significant difference in how we are currently approaching it. There is also the direct link in the AASL framework to what it means to be a Future Ready Teacher Librarian.

For each of the AASL Shared Foundations, these domains explicitly go through what it looks like as student outcomes and how the Teacher Librarians can achieve that outcome.

This AASL framework starts with a very different approach to ours about what the Teacher Librarian role is in school libraries. Most of the states of the USA have taken this framework on board.

This is where the US have come to. It is apparently making a good impact in US schools. This AASL model talks about learning as the whole process – not subsetting it.

Should we be finding the value in this shift in thinking?NSW DoE ISP image

Our current NSW information process model – ISP (link) (Information Skills booklet)has been with us for over a decade. The Information Process has not changed since previous iterations of the ISP model. The colours may have changed but the process is the same.

What does this mean for teachers in classrooms? Are they explicitly using this model? Do they know it exists?

Does this model assist teachers who are working with information literacy in the NSW curriculum?


We need to start to think about Information Literacy differently. Have we been working at the Basic Skills area – are we teaching a specific skill that is being transferred from subject to subject? Do our students and teachers see themselves as information literate?

What we want to move to is to be Information Competent. This level not only has those skills but it has behaviours and abilities. Competence is being able to both do it and do it well. We are currently not operating mostly at a competence level – students rely on templates for even the basic bibliography in assessment tasks. They are not confident at even this level because we don’t provide them with the instruction and practice they need to achieve that confidence. It is not an embedded behaviour. We want them to move on from competence to literate/fluent.

We’ve had that aim… underneath syllabus outcomes and assessment requirements… but we don’t currently have a framework within which we can achieve information literacy at the levels required as entry level skills in the new NSW Stage 6 syllabi. We are not preparing students for the academic rigour now being required.

As professionals we all need to become information fluent and we need to model that in a way that students and teachers will exhibit their information literacy as a matter of course… assumed knowledge, assumed skill level, assumed assessment task requirement.

Most NSW DoE teachers are information fluent in a wide range of skill sets and areas of expertise for their subject knowledge. They do it but they don’t have the language and terminology around it. We need to get to the point where we can assume information is accessed appropriately in all of the modes and forms that it is available to our staff and students.

June Wall indicated that she also thinks we need to “overlay” the 3 core areas of

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity and innovation

These come out of a range of different skill sets but we see this requirement in the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. These are core needs of our community and have been identified as such through our curriculum development processes.

Looking ahead

“Where can the Teacher Librarian plug the hole that is missing in schools?” Not as an enhancement but as a point of difference. The Teacher Librarian has a different expertise and we need to be explicit in how this skill set can best be utilised by individual schools.

This can be completely different in individual schools. We need to think differently about information fluency and use the Teacher Librarian to champion that learning in schools. This term “information fluency” encompasses every media form (including digital literacy) – not just books but everything that our students do that involves information.

June suggested some questions that need answers… a beginning to this journey into a changed model of information fluency in NSW DoE schools:

  1. What are your common beliefs? What is valuable to external stakeholders? What does the TL community value?
  2. What are your shared foundations?
  3. What are the areas of learning needed for future young Australians?
  4. How should a future focused model look, feel, sound?

These questions require us to collaborate on the answers, connect and share our thoughts, lead our colleagues into a new phase of information fluency in NSW DoE schools.

This journey has only just begun…

ETL401 The Critical Synthesis challenge

BLaKC pic

Balmain Library and Knowledge Centre 2015

My challenge here is to achieve a “critical synthesis” and assess my progress in understanding the role of the Teacher Librarian in schools. To be perfectly frank, I don’t know that I am yet capable of fully realising that goal. This course has expanded my view of the role of the Teacher Librarian in schools, increased my knowledge of the expectations and details, but has also found me acquiring scepticism that the role will ever truly be appreciated in schools, and a realisation that the frustration levels involved may yet overwhelm me.

My career as a teacher has already spanned three decades and provided me with experiences in a wide variety of education systems and pedagogical approaches – yet I find myself under pressure to be able to fulfil the TL role. Achieving success at interview and being offered a placement as TL in a NSW DEC school was a significant challenge.  I bring to this role an acceptance of the change process, a deep love of literature and information literacy, expertise in the vast array of tools of the 21st Century educator, a background in database management, and training in school leadership… and yet I find myself in a school where the role of the Teacher Librarian has a long, dark shadow and significant baggage, and I wonder if I have sufficient resilience to meet the challenge of realising the potential of the TL role. Thankfully ETL401 has provided some clarity for me but TLs must work within the staffing structure of their school and I am yet to be convinced that it is possible to establish a shift in how other staff perceive the role, or accept a change that allows change.

Since first being offered, by a secondary Principal, an opportunity to act as Teacher Librarian in 2013, and another position in 2014, I have been fortunate indeed to connect and collaborate with a large group of Teacher Librarians serving in a wide range of schools – both in NSW and internationally. I have listened and read about the issues they face – the challenges of advocacy and accreditation, the importance of “Teacher” in TL, the treatment by school executives, the budget constraints, the push for change of usage and design of Library spaces and so on, and I began this course with what I realise now was a chaotic view of the Teacher Librarian profile in schools.

My description of the role as a “Project Manager’s nightmare” (Hogg, 2015a) was an accurate assessment of how I saw the role at the beginning of this semester. Thankfully some clarity has been achieved as the course has progressed, and especially through exposure to and discussion about some of the support literature that provides greater definition of the TL role. The ASLA website and materials have been significantly useful in this pursuit of clarity and their analysis of “What is a teacher librarian?” (Asla.org.au, 2014) has provided me with a framework as a foundation for the development of a Strategic Plan for my new role. What I described as the “ubiquitous and indispensable” (Hogg, 2015a) features of the TL role are in fact examples of critical and creative thinking – two important facets of what the Australian Curriculum describes as General Capabilities of the 21st century (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014) and are a foundation for the role of TL in schools.

This course has also highlighted the importance of the role of the School Principal in achieving a shift in perception amongst teaching staff regarding the use of the Library and the role of the TL. The course forums gave many examples of how Principals and TLs interact in schools. As I noted in my blog post, the literature has shown me that “Supportive principals also communicate an understanding of the value of the library program and make Information Literacy an agenda item in school planning” (Hogg, 2015b) and I recognise that I have much more “collaboration homework” to do (Bush, 2003) in order to achieve a supportive relationship, and the resulting access to teaching staff that can be made available in the collaborative process.

Most importantly, though, I come away from this course with a much more detailed understanding of the importance of Information Literacy – what it looks like and how it can be explicitly taught in schools (Hogg, 2015c). In addition, through the Interact2 forums, completion of assignments, and connection and collaboration with other members of my MEd(TL) student cohort (especially through connecting via Facebook) – I have come to understand the importance of the Information Literacy models and the process of inquiry, and look forward to creating opportunities for students at my school to improve their Information Literacy and be better prepared for the challenges of lifelong learning in this information dense landscape of the 21st Century.

Information literate students, who are learning how to learn and using a 21st Century skill set, should be the focus of the TL role. Teacher Librarians have a pivotal role in teaching their students how to broaden their literacy horizons and love of literature, how to have a passion for learning and how to the acquire the metacognitive processes involved – constructivism in action. Essentially this means that TLs are teaching students to access, process, organise, create, and present their learning in meaningful, purposeful ways (Abilock, 2004). For me the fog has cleared and the challenge is revealed – I will continue to learn how to adapt and change as my participation in the role of Teacher Librarian focuses on the students of my school and the learning challenges they face, in a world where success, reading and Information Literacy are inexorably linked.

While I remain sceptical… I will face the hurdles with renewed vigour, now that the challenge has been well articulated.

Mindmap Role of TL

Role of TL

[click image to enlarge]

[Images in this post created by D.Hogg 2015]


Abilock, D. (2004). Building Blocks of Research: Overview of Design, Process and Outcomes. Available at: http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html

ACARA Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2014) Foundation to Year 10 Curriculum [online] Available at: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/

Asla.org.au, (2014). What is a teacher librarian? Available at: http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/what-is-a-teacher-librarian.aspx

Bush, G. (2003). Do your collaboration homework. Teacher Librarian, 31(1), 15-18.

Hogg, D. (2015a) ETL401 blog task 1 – trying to understand the TL role

[blog post] available at http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/debhoggoz/2015/03/22/etl401-blog-task-1-trying-to-understand-the-tl-role/

Hogg, D. (2015b) Principal support in a 21C library [blog post] Available at:


Hogg, D. (2015c) Am I information literate? Is information literacy more than a set of skills? [blog post] Available at:



Principal support in a 21C library

The core business of a School Principal is to maximise the positive effect on student learning outcomes. To this end, the effective use of school resources – human, physical and technological – must combine to optimise the opportunities for students to engage and learn. Within this framework, the utilisation of the Teacher Librarian is key to the knowledge economy of the school.

Collaboration quoteFor a Teacher Librarian(TL) in a NSW DEC High School, both Head Teacher and Principal support are crucial to the efficient execution of the TL role. A supportive Principal will incorporate the Teacher Librarian’s participation in the School Plan; raise the profile and importance of the role of the TL and the library within the school; and model, support and enable collaboration between the TL and classroom teachers (Oberg, 2006). Without the support of the Senior School Executive, the library will be relegated to under-funded and ineffectual and have little impact on the learning outcomes of the school community.

This support from the Principal is manifested in a number of ways. It is important to recognise that the physical isolation of the library can be the Teacher Librarian’s biggest hurdle to overcome in terms of being a vital participant in the school’s learning community (Lamb, 2011, p14).  Lamb (2011) posits that such isolation can lead to “occupational invisibility” for the Teacher Librarian, and goes on to suggest that supportive principals will provide an outline of their expectations for library use and the classroom teachers’ participation in the library program (p. 14). TL’s have a vast arsenal of ICT tools that can be utilised to overcome these issues of isolation and build bridges to empower other teachers to utilise collaboration mechanisms. Supportive principals also communicate an understanding of the value of the library program and make information literacy an agenda item in school planning.

Support from the Principal becomes evident when they create the “context and structures” that enable the Classroom Teacher and the Teacher Librarian to work collaboratively, allowing some opportunities for flexible scheduling which ensures the library program is integrated into planning and evaluation structures. A supportive principal will also encourage the TL’s personal and professional development (Oberg, 2006, pp. 8 & 15).

An appropriate role for the TL in curriculum planning and development includes being a facilitator in ICT, educating staff on new technologies and programs, and resourcing the curriculum. Teacher librarians should collaborate with classroom teachers “to combine knowledge of the curriculum, knowledge of individual learners’ needs and competencies and knowledge of information sources, resources and technologies” (ASLA, 2009). Without the support of the principal of your school, none of this is possible.

Mattesich et al (2001) write that the arrangement between the Principal and the TL should “include(s) a commitment to mutual relationships and goals; a jointly developed structure and shared responsibility; mutual authority and accountability for success; and sharing of resources and rewards” (in Haycock, 2007). This is not going to be achieved quickly and easily, and requires effort from both the Principal and the Teacher Librarian to establish and maintain common goals for student learning outcomes in their school.

Lastly, Bush (2003) adds that professional satisfaction derives from collaboration with colleagues. This desire to practice a collaborative approach and insert the TL role as a support mechanism for classroom teachers, has the added benefit of developing the collaborative skill set of all involved… including the Principal.


Bush, G. (2003). Do your collaboration homework. Teacher Librarian, 31(1), 15-18.

Haycock, K. (2007)  Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning.  School Libraries Worldwide, Vol. 13, No. 1, p.26

Lamb, A. (2011).  Bursting with Potential:  Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette.  TechTrends Vol 55: 4.

Oberg, D. (2006) Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.