August 20 2014

Leading from the Library

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Action figure librarian, by Jan Eliot (

Leading From The Library (ETL504 Assignment 1, Part 2)

The teacher librarian is uniquely positioned within the complex school context to be able to demonstrate leadership in many areas. What I love about the teacher librarian as leader is the interconnectedness inherent in their role. Not stuck at the top of the tree developing vertigo, or stuck at ground level drowning in dirt and fertiliser, the teacher librarian is afforded the opportunity to branch out into multiple and diverse facets of the school, influencing and impacting teaching and learning, welfare, and school culture in many ways.

One leadership concept which resonated with me from our study of management and leadership in schools was the idea of leader as editor (Fishburne). The notion of the teacher librarian as one who synthesises the ideas and input from individuals into a cohesive story, which shapes the direction of the organisation as a whole sits well with the way that the library I am working in now is beginning to function. It’s a challenging one to achieve though, and whilst there are enormous possibilities in working with such a diverse range of groups and individuals, there are also great challenges. Overcoming preconceived ideas about the role of the TL has certainly been a hurdle I have faced this year. Many staff have considered my key role is the provision of photocopier assistance, and their personal heat adjustment specialist (ie controlling the aircon). However, there have been some cultural shifts in the library which have led to exciting opportunities for collaboration.

The success of this change will be the success with which new traditions are formed in the library space, both for the students and the teachers who form an integral part of the library community. Kotter refers to this change as being a shift in traditions which requires strong positive support from the majority of the organisation. The challenge for the teacher librarian, then, in leading this change, is to examine the ways in which the majority (if not all) of the staff in the school can be encouraged to embrace change, and to participate in the growth of the library as a centre for learning.

Leadership in the library, then, is primarily an endeavour which is reliant on connection – a central element in developing and sustaining effective teams (Aguilar). Developing positive and productive lines of communication with staff from different faculties and teams is often a challenging one, especially when faced with competing agendas and priorities. Leadership which is servant focused is something that I believe is important in this context then (Marzano, p17). By creating a culture in which staff see me as someone who is supportive of their personal goals and needs, and fostering positive relationships, I believe that I as teacher librarian leader have great agency in developing positive growth for the school in general, and the library in particular. Like Tapscott’s starling murmuration, working together we are able to achieve a school culture in which success is intrinsically link to everyone’s achievement, not simply the goals of an individual. The possibilities for leadership as part of the whole for the teacher librarian are exciting, don’t you think?


Aguilar, E. (n.d.). Effective teams: The key to transforming schools? K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work | Edutopia. Retrieved May 29, 2014, from

Fishburne, T. (n.d.) 8 types of leader.

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-step process for leading change. Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved May 29, 2013, from

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: From research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved May 29, 2014 from

Tapscott, D. (n.d.) Four principles for the open world.


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Posted August 20, 2014 by Tamara Reads in category Uni Life: MEd (TL)

About the Author

NSWPRC Officer, Teacher Librarian, English teacher and social media advocate. I've been teaching in Western Sydney for my entire teaching career, and love my job more than I love Neil Gaiman. (That's a lot, in case you're wondering!) I stalk authors (but always politely), fangirl over books, and drink coffee. And one of my guilty prides about my children is that they all have favourite authors. All opinions are my own.

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