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The 2001 IASL Conference

Auckland, New Zealand, 9-12 July

ASPECTS FOR DISCUSSION:


From Ross Todd:
I would like the focus of discussion to be on approaches to evidence-based practice.
Participants should share:
Examples of initiatives that provide evidence of the power of the educative role of the
school librarian: describe the initiative, how you collected some evidence, what you found.

This does not have to relate to technology -- but initiatives where impact, benefit can be
demonstrated: it might centre on reading, literacy, information literacy, information
technology, communication, perceptions of seld as learners, improved test scores.

KEYNOTE PAPER: VIRTUAL CONFERENCE SESSION

Transitions for preferred futures of school libraries:


Knowledge space, not information place
Connections, not collections
Actions, not positions
Evidence, not advocacy
DR ROSS TODD

ABSTRACT

The fusion of learning, libraries and literacies is creating dynamic, if not confronting
challenges for teacher-librarians, teachers and administrators, particularly when set against
the backdrop of learning and information environments that are complex and fluid,
connective and interactive, and ones no longer constrained by time and space. It is both an
opportunity to evaluate and chart impacts and achievements, as well as an invitation to
examining new ways of looking and thinking, being and doing. This presentation will argue
that action and evidence-based, learning-centered prac tice, rather than position and
advocacy, are key mindsets for the profession if it is to achieve its preferred future,
particularly in the context of the develo pment of digital collections and services. It will
elucidate a shared-learning framework as the fundamental building block for the
articulation of roles, selec tion of resources, the nature of the instructional program, and for
evaluating the power of the library in achieving the school’s learning objectives.

INTRODUCTION

Two statements from different times and contexts form the heart of my address. Winnie
the Pooh has been attributed with saying: “There has been an alarming increase in the
number of things I know nothing about”. The German philosopher Goethe, once said: “Are
you in earnest? Seize this very minute. What you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and mag ic in it. Only engage and then the mind grows heated.
Begin and then the work will be completed”. In a time of intense educational change and
profound growth in accessible information, both somewhat driven by networked
information technology, the challenge for teacher-librarians to chart a preferred future for
the information environments of schools is both complex and potentially confronting. It is
time to acknowledge our past, reflect on our achievements, and chart a course for the
future.

I have begun writing this address in one of the world’s magnificent libraries, the Library of
Congress, in Washington D.C. The scale and grandeur of the physical place and the
enormity of its collection are difficult to comprehend. The collection includes more than
28 million catalogued books and other print materials in 460 languages, and has the
largest rare book collection in North America, as well as the world’s largest collection of
legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound reco rdings. Marble, gilt, brass inlay,
vaulted ceilings, mosaics honoring the professions, magnificent paintings depicting the
creation and diffusion of knowledge and the role of literature and learning, sculptures
featuring life and thought and honoring those who over centuries have made
distinguished contributions – all these make it visually an awesome and inspiring place. I
am working in the domed Reading Room of the Thomas Jefferson Wing, barely able to
concentrate.

A mural by Edwin Blashfield depicting the great epochs of civilization adorns the apex of
this enormous and embellished dome. In the cupola of the dome is another painting by
Edwin Blashfield, and it is this that captures my attention. Here is painted a female figure,
visible only to those in the Reading Room below, representing Human Understanding.
Human Understanding. And atop this dome, on the outside of the building, is the “Torch of
Learning”. It is my view that at the pinnacle, the c entre, the heart of a library is the
development of human understanding. My central claim in this paper is that the school
library in the 21st Century is about constructing sense and new knowledge, and building
an information infrastructure and information resources to enable this. This is the idea of
the library as a knowledge space, not information place. In order to achieve that, I believe
we need to focus on three things: connections, not collections; actions, not positions; and
evidence, not advocacy.

FROM INFORMATION TO KNOWLEDGE

The information environment of the 21st century is complex and fluid, connective and
interactive, diverse, ambiguous and unpredictable, and one no longer constrained by
physical collections, time, place and national boundaries. The e-environment, at a time
when social commentary focuses on “the dot.com age”, “the dot.con age”, “the dot.come-
and-gone age” is increasingly giving attention to the development of “the knowledge
society”, “the clever country”. This does not happen by chance. Not does it happen by
having magnificent information collections, inspiring physical environments, or advanced
information technology networks. These are important, there is no question about that,
but I do not believe that these are the hallmarks of the school library of the 21st Century.
Giving information is not the same as giving knowledge, and turning information into
knowledge is potentially the most complex, challenging and rewarding task of all
educators.
In order for school libraries to play a key role in the information age school, I believe there
needs to be a fundamental shift from thinking about the movement and management of
information resources through structures and networks, and from information skills and
information literacy, to a key focus on knowledge construction and human understanding,
implemented through a constructivist, inquiry-based framework. The notion of humna
understanding is the essence of the word “information”: inform.ere informo, informare,
informavi, informatus = inward forming. School libraries are aboutproviding the best
information opportunities for people to make the most of their lives as sense-making,
constructive, independent people. They know how to connect with, interact with and
utilize their information rich world to enable them to understand their world around
them, to think through issues and to make decisions to sustain and enrich their own lives.
Information is the heartbeat of meaningful learning in schools. But it is not the hallmark of
the 21st century school. The hallmark of a school library in the 21st century is not its
collections, its systems, its technology, its staffing, its buildings, BUT its actions and
evidences that show that it makes a real difference to student learning, that it contributes
in tangible and significant ways to the development of human understanding, meaning
making and constructing knowledge. The school library is about empowerment,
connectivity, engagement, interactivity, and its outcome is knowledge construction. This
must be at the centre of our philosophy, the mandate for our role, and the driver of all our
day-by-day teaching and learning actions. Information is not power. It is human
understanding and knowledge that is power, and information is how you get it. Professor
Kuhlthau's address earlier this week argued that inquiry-based learning provides both a
philosophical and action-centred constructivist framework for building an appropriate
learning environment in an information-rich school, one that has construction of meaning
and understanding as its outcome, where students are engaged in "an active personal
process" fitting information in with what one already knows and extending this
knowledge to create new perspectives (Kuhlthau, 1993:4). This is the significant context
for my paper today.

Writing in the preface to Effective libraries in international schools (Markuson, 1999), I


make this statement: "Preparing our students today for tomorrow's unknown world, being
able to predict an uncertain future, and moving into it with confidence, takes courgae and
conviction. Indeed the best way to predict the future is to work towards creating it, and
creating it begins today, not tomorrow. This means that although we respect and are
informed by our past, we also have the courage and determination to think and act
divergently" (1999, 9). I like this quote, from an unknown source: "If we always see as
we've always seen, we'll always be as we've always, and we'll always do as we've always
done." So what is the problem? I am going to stick my neck out here. I am not convinced
that empowerment for knowledge construction and the development of human
understanding is the central concern of teacher-librarians today. Over my 25 year period
of engagement with the profession, as a practicing teacher-librarian, educator and
researcher, I have sat in numerous meetings, forums and conferences, and listened to the
concerns and challenges of teacher-librarians around the world I still remain unconvinced
that action and evidence-based, learning-centred practice focusing on engagement with
information for human understanding and knowledge construction, are key mindsets for
the profession -- philosophically and in practice. Certainly they are reflected in the rhetoric
about roles and responsibilities, in other words, espoused values. But I would argue that
the central public concerns of teacher-librarians continue to be expressed in terms of
collections, position and advocacy, and I believe that this is the major limiting factor of the
profession today. I strongly believe that our mindset needs to shift to evidence-based,
learning centred practice that has as its heart the central concepts of knowledge
construction and human understanding. This should be the locus of our concern and the
fundamental challenge that drives us, and the rest will look after itself.

PERCEPTIONS OF CHALLENGES

Let me give some simple evidence for this. Recently I sent out a message to two Australian
electronic lists for teacher-librarians: OZTL_NET and InfoSpec. (a discussion list for the
Parramatta Diocese school libraries staff). I requested teacher-librarians to email me and
tell me what they thought were the most important challenges facing them at this time.
This could be broad or narrow -- on the educative role, on technology, on the status of
their position, on their image value; on anything they think important. I asked them to list
these in priority order, from the most important or highest priority. It was not intended to
be a formal study, and the results I mention here need to be perceived in that context --
however, they show some interesting patterns. I received 74 written replies. I did provide
some prompts, as stated above, based on my own hunches, and these were taken up, and
others identified as well. I undertook a content analysis of those replies, first by identifying
individual statements of challenge. 249 individual statements of challenge were provided.
Some of these were expressed broadly, which enabled me to establish 11 categories for
grouping these challenges; others were expressed quite specifically, which serve to
illustrate the breadth and depth of each category.

Key Challenges Facing Teacher-Librarians

Number of % of Total
Concern
Statements Statements

Impact of information technology on library


47 18.87
and role of teacher-librarian

Perceived lack of understanding of the


32 12.85
nature and dimensions of the role

Perceived lack of value, importance and


28 11.24
appreciation

Negative perceptions of the image of teacher-


23 9.23
librarian by others

Perceived lack of support for the role of


20 8.03
teacher-librarian
Not able to do the job I want to do as teacher-
27 10.84
librarian

Perceived low status 17 6.84

Student learning -- processes and outcomes 15 6.902

Advocacy of position and role 12 4.82

Funding 10 4.03

Professional development 7 2.81

Other 11 4.42

TOTAL 249 100%

The most significant challenges were in terms of information technology, and challenges
related to other's perceptions of the image and role of the teacher-librarian, the lack of
understanding by others of the role, and dealing with less-than-desired perceptions of the
importance and value of the contributions made by them. The bullet points below each
category are some of the individual statements made by teacher-librarians, to illustrate
the dynamics, breadth and depth of the challenges.

Impact of information technology on library and role of librarian

 Another issue is the problem of responsibility for technology. As more equipment


is being placed in the library -- networked printers, scanners, colour photocopiers,
ID cards -- more pressure / expectations are being placed on the TL to maintain /
service the needs of the equipment and the users.

 Taking on more and more tasks like web master, network password administrator,
PD organiser for staff, mentor to "reluctant" staff, computer technician, with no
extra staff provided nor time allowance to cope with the load. The pace just keeps
hotting up; some days the descent into chaos is positively scary.

 In the use of technology, many teachers lack the skills to assist students, so they
are relying more on the TL to be involved with their classes, which leaves less time
for management tasks.

 TLs are hampered by technology in every sense of the word; They receive the cast
noff machines from the Administration areas; There is little or no technological
support; the latest software does not work with older machines; The technology is
forever changing; the students think they know about technology -- but they do not
know how to research.
 Information technology drains the library budget (is money going to computers etc
instead of the library).
Perceived lack of support for the role
 We see lots of excellent school-based staff getting very frustrated because the job
they do isn't supported or appreciated.
 The energy of the battle is not worth the little support we gain.
 We seem to have to spend a lot of time fighting for any support we get.
 Support seems to be given grudgingly, often to shut me up.
 If I become too strident over library needs, I get into all sorts of strife if I don't get
strident, the library gets nothing or leftovers, after years of asking.
Perceived lack of value and importance and appreciation
 Not perceived by peers as being relevant (in part die to the increasing problem of
being sidelined by the IT agenda in a school). Why do we need a library (TLs)
when we're "connected" to the world.
 Lack of official value -- school annual reports can be written with no library or T-L
but happily report on the multi-purpose shelter & the bus as facilities.
 Showing my value and being valued as a teacher librarian -- a special role in the
school -- so as not to be replaced by a librarian.
 Encouraging classroom teachers to see me as a valuable resource in their
classrooms as well as in the library.
 Recognition for cooperative work done with teachers with an adequate time
allocation for this.
Perceived lack of understanding of the nature and dimensions of the role
 Perpetual misunderstandings of one's role (not a new one).
 Principals in general do not have an understanding of the importance of the library
to teaching and learning.
 The boss consults the computer class teacher on what equipment should go into
the library and since this teacher rarely even uses the library, his vision and mine
seldom overlap.
 Having administration and colleagues understanding the role of the t/l in the 21st
century.
 If our colleagues in the profession could see how valuable we could be in a more
collaborative role beyond "give me all you have on transport" and storytelling to
the littlies then things might change.
 From where I sit one of my biggest concerns is the apparent lack of understanding
by administrators and teachers, of the place that the library and a good teacher
librarian can play in the learning process. This is especially evident with the
advent of the Internet with the tendency in many schools to think that online
information can replace the book stock and trained library staff.
 The administration of schools only seem to know that the library is a problem
when something has gone wrong or a parent complains.
Perceived low status of position
 The challenge is to get enough status to get the money to ring the changes that
move us forward whatever the current sticking point may be.
 Top of my priorities at the moment is the perception of the status of TLs in
Australian schools, and specifically, of course in my own school.
 I have less status than I have ever had in this school. I am fearful that if I studied
for a PhD, as I have wanted to, that I would find myself cleaning the toilets.
 Trained TLs are being replaced by other, untrained teachers who sometimes do
quite extraordinary things to collections such as abandoning the Dewey system for
home-made ones.
 Status as an educator -- I'm an assistant principal/TL and still have to fight for
time, resourcing and status of the library. It is convenient to have me in this dual
role, so I can be on call whenever there is a more urgent need for me to wear my
AP hat -- which if allowed, would be 90% of the time. I have 3 days TL and 2 days
AP.
Negative perceptions of the image of School Librarian by others
 Tag of librarian -- still has the image of somewhat old fashioned keeper of the
books and daggy.
 Librarians have a negative image, and no matter what you do, it doesn't seem to
shift.
 TLs are often seen as second grade in a school, with nothing to offer but control of
the shelves with a stern face.
 The image of the librarian -- attitudes of the old days still persist as strong as ever.
 No matter what I do or say, I am still tarnished with the past image of the librarian.
Advocacy
 Encouraging good quality training courses for new TLs with an emphasis on
education, not just library management.
 The need to convince all stakeholders (politicians, society, academics, teachers,
parents and students) that Information Literacy is an essential responsibility of
schooling. If it is established that if graduates can access and efficiently use
information, and be critical thinkers, data can become knowledge, and knowledge
can be transformed into wisdom, I think most of our challenges will be diminished
somewhat.
 I think it is a worry that there do not seem to be any courses on offer in Victoria to
train teacher librarians.
 Information skills are an important part of our work and many tertiary institutions
are realising the importance of conducting classes for their students, perhaps there
should be more consultation between the two sectors.
Student learning -- processes and outcomes
 TLs are frustrated by the lack of technical skills amongst the students and staff.
Users rush in waving a disk and want material printed out yesterday. They have
used Word 2000 on Mac and we have windows 95 etc etc.
 Teacher librarians do not contribute to the debate on the place of information
technology and and its effects on curriculum, and teaching and learning, and as a
consequence the implications for the role of the teacher librarian and the resource
centre then they run the very serious risk of being sidelined.
 Encouraging teachers to see the ICT Competencies, especially the Info Lit
component, should be across the curriculum, not just considered in the IT classes.
 Incorporating ICT resources into the library collection in a way that doesn't
downgrade more traditional resources i.e. persuading students that the Internet
isn't the only place to go for research. Maintaining the value of print resources.
 Need to explore electronic aspects to info process -- not the locating and selecting,
but the cut and paste organisation aspects, (my own area not explored, still give
the kids paper and pencil).
 Curriculum development for composite classes.
 Student assessment.
Funding
 Funds -- probably linked to above -- some libraries are starved of fundsto make
them the vibrant places they should be.
 Maintaining our library budget and library staffing ratios in tight times and in
tough competition with other needy areas of the school, or new "must have or
we'll look bad" school trends in the region.
 Funding and resources: once the need for information literacy is established, the
challenge to provide adequate resources in the way of staffing, hardware,
technology and technology support, information sources, and funds for ongoing
research and development, will be on the way to being met.
 Chronic under-funding is another major problem.
 Libraries are considered a waste of funds.
Not able to do the job I want to do
 Find TIME, TIME, Time. Find enough time to do all that I want to do.
 I spend more time than I think I should need to on: student management (first year
at this school so still not known by students); student discipline (we are in a
difficult demographic area); paperwork related to purchasing, getting signatures
and faxing (must be a better way); too many meetings (at school and network level
-- usually valuable but too many); house-keeping as in shelving, and training and
selling cards for the photocopier!!
 Time management... to do less better. Finding the time to teach AND monitor
authority files & the nitty-gritty that makes the database effective.
 Would like more time available: for planning and implementing a meaningful
research skills plan for students; for teaching teachers about the value of our
college intranet and how it can make teaching and learning a more positive
experience.
 Time -- to do own professional development, present it to colleagues, discussion
for co-operative, read latest literature on shelf, be available to students outside
"lesson" time, to debrief with peers!
Professional development
 Education of the staff on the need for integrated, systematic Information Skills
classes across the curriculum.
 Remaining at the forefront of new information technology as it pertains to
information management and teaching.
 Change and the ability to keep up (espcially when you are the only one in the
library); keeping up with and gaining in-service training.
 Continuous training and development; once the pivotal role of Information
Literacy and the fact that school/university libraries are in a prime position to
enahnce and develop it, is established, hopefully the provision of quality, free,
ongoing training will also become less of a struggle, for those working in the field
and undergraduates.
 Learning new skills myself and implementing ideas for literature programs:
frustration at students' poor research skills; read more of the latest adolescent
fiction; teach myself how to use PowerPoint, etc.
These are important challenges, ones not just local to Australia, and ones that need to be
addressed. Many of these challenges have been expressed for decades. These were the
issues I thought about when I did my training in teacher-librarianship in the early 1980s.
Yes, even technology, as we grappled with the integration of the audio-visual technologies
into learning. What is particularly interesting is that challenges related to the processes
and outcomes of student learning received lower priority. There may be a number of
reasons for this: these challenges are well under control for the majority of teacher-
librarians, or they don't exist or don't matter, or it is perceived that solutions to the other
challenges need to be in place before the real work of student learning can be
accomplished. Maybe there is something in the old proverb: "Energy goes where the
attention flows". We tend to send our energy where our attention is. The attention we are
giving and needing to the challenges expressed above may not bring about the desired
effect. It is my view that we cannot wait around, hoping that someone out there will rescue
us from this concerns. We need to shift our thinking to what we espouse as the real
purposes of our roles, and demonstrate its power on the lives of the students we deal with.
We need to move beyond the public relations approach, and focus on an evidence-based
practice approach.
I spoke at the 4th National Information Literacy Conference in Adelaide, Australia, in
December 1999, and made the comment that information literacy is often seen by others
as "a clarion call by committed protagonists to improve literacy and learning outcomes"
(Todd, 2000: 29), rather than as an action-centred process where tangible outcomes could
be demonstrated. I cited Foster who claimed that information literacy is "an exercise in
public relations" and "an effort to deny the ancillary status of librarianship by inventing a
social malady with which librarians as 'information professionals' are uniquely qualified
to deal" (Foster, 1993, 346), and Miller who observed: "the word 'literacy' carries with it
the connotations of illiteracy, and the continuing implication that librarians are dealing
with clients on a basic or even remedial level" (Miller, 1992). Foster's and Miller's remarks
are undeserved and many people were angered by my comments.
However, the advocacy, role, status, image and position messages are the messages that
school executives, system administrators, school library educators, and school library
professional associations have been hearing for decades. Why haven't they been heard to
the extent that the teacher-librarian's position today is the most exalted, cherished and
sought-after position in the school? I believe that one key element in this answer is that
these are all self-centred and ego-driven dimensions. People -- administrators, classroom
teachers and parents -- sometimes do not see the links between what you do on a day-to-
day basis and how that enables the learning outcomes of the students. I am going to be
blunt here. I hope I am wrong. But you will not be heard until your day-to-day practice is
evidence-based; a practice that is directed towards demonstrating the real tangible power
of your contribution to the school's learning goals -- goals that while expressed in many
different ways, have at their heart concepts of knowledge construction and human
understanding. The evidence of your direct, tangible contribution to improving learning in
your school should be the substance of your message, the substance of your public
concern, the substance of your negotiations.
In my short survey, one teacher-librarian commented:
"I teach with some wonderful, dedicated teachers, and we use scads of ingenuity in finding
the resources we need, and teaching our students. This is still the best job in the world, either
teaching on its own, or being a teacher librarian, and there is great satisfaction to be had
from finding a needed, elusive fact, or introducing a child to a book that brings them back for
'more of the same, please'. But there is so much more we could do."
I would suggest that the answer to the concluding remark, "But there is so much more we
could do" needs to foocus on evidence-based practice. We might argue that there is a great
deal of evidence out there that highlights the empowering role of the school library. Yet
even with this evidence, it is sometimes difficult to convince school executive of the
nature, scope and importance of this role. Why? I think there is a simple answer to this.
The evidence is not local, immediately derived from the day-to-day teaching and learning
going on in a specific school. Principals, teachers, parents, want to hear local success, local
improvement; they want to know how their students in particular are benefiting, not how
others are doing. Yesterday (June 14th), the US Senate approved the first major overhaul
of the country's education policy in 35 years. The Bill calls for annual testing of students in
reading and methematics, and requires each school to demonstrate progress in
eliminating academic achievement gaps. Failing schools will receive aid to improve, but
will face the loss of funds and other penalties if they fail to make adequate progress. If a
school does not make enough progress after two years, it must allow students to transfer
to other public schools. Schools with a continuing record of failing may also be required to
replace staff or restructure. However we might react to this approach, it clearly shows that
local outcomes will matter; local improvements will be monitored, watched, listened to,
and it highlights the importance of teacher-librarians being engaged in evidence-based
practice that shows that their role in the learning goals of the school makes a difference.
Oberg (2001) makes this timely comment: "Many people, including educators, are
suspicious of research and researchers. Research conducted closer to home is more likely
to be considered and perhaps to be viewed as trustworthy".
EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE
Another teacher-librarian provided this longer reply to my challenges request:
"Information technology has provided the means for teacher librarians to present themselves
to the world in a way clearly valued to the world. We employ our information management
skills to manage information and knowledge across a whole spectrum of formats. We are at
the forefront of taking information technology from a frightening spectre to place it within
the context of education in a controlled and meaningful way. We look at the curriculum
needs, and work with teachers to plan their courses and lessons, than set about finding the
best information in whatever format, including websites, and applying the most suitable
information technology -- from simple pathfinders on a website to highly complex webquests.
We then teach teachers and their classes how to use it. Schools and teachers are convinced
that we know what we are doing because we use every opportunity to be involved in
curriculum planning and to sell our skills to the school community: on councils, meetings, in-
service, assemblies, workshops. We use our websites to best effect for the school and to
present our knowledge and information management to the school and the broader
community. We monitor education and librarianship email discussion lists and channel
relevant emails to our colleagues. We publish good news about our libraries in every venue
possible. We send our library staff to as many professional development sessions as possible."
There are some worthwhile initiatives here. The fundamental question needs to be asked:
what difference did this make to student learning? The focus here is on "doing", and
undoubtedly, some fine doing. What did this do in terms of students "being" and
"becoming"? For students, teachers and parents, what was the "experience"? What were
the differences, defined and expressed in ways that say: "hey, we want more of this!". This
is evidence-based practice.
Evidence-based practice focuses on two things. Firstly, it is the conscientious, explicit and
judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the performance of your
role. It is about using research evidence, coupled with your own professionsl expertise and
reasoning to implement learning interventions that are effective. Without current best
evidence, practice runs the risk of not only being out of date, but detracts from the real
purpose, to the detriment of learners. Secondly, evidence-based practice is about ensuring
that your daily efforst put some focus on effectiveness evaluation that gathers meaningful
and systematic evidence on dimensions of teaching and learning that matter to the school
and its support community, evidences that clearly convey that learning outcomes are
continuing to improve. Some may claim that evidence-based practice is impossible to
practice, given the seemingly limited time for keeping abreast, let alone implementing
strategies, or that it is only possible to be done by those in ivory towers. My view is that
evidence-based practice is fundamental to future survival. Unless teacher-librarians
engage in carefully planned evidence-based practice, I see the continuing erosion of the
role. It is about action, not position; it is about evidence, not advocacy, and at the heart of
this is inquiry-based learning for knowledge construction.
THE RESEARCH EVIDENCE
There is a considerable body of evidence aslready existing that provides direction in terms
of where the evidence-based focus of a school might lie. This research evidence is well
documented in substantive reviews undertaken over a number of years, for example, by
Didier (1984), Haycock (1992, 1994), Loertscher and Woolls (1999), Oberg (2001), as well
as many individual and large-scale research studies, such as Kuhlthau's research on
inquiry-based learning and the Information Search Process (1993, 1994, 1999), and the
Colorado Studies by Lance and colleagues (1992, 1999, 2000, 2001). It is imperative that
teacher-librarians continue to engage actively with this leterature, and use it as a way of
determining how each individual school might establish its library program, identify
learning needs, and chart its own evidence.
As I examine this literature, I see at least 8 important generalizations about the
relationship of school libraries to learning, each underpinned by specific research-based
evidence. These are:
 A shared educational philosophy centering on inquiry learning provides an
appropriate and common climate for engaging teacher-librarians and school staff
in collaborative, integrated learning opportunities. A "shared philosophy of
learning" (Kuhlthau, 1993) underpins a shared vision for the learning outcomes,
and a commitment to a shared collaborative process.
 A process approach focusing on the systematic and explicit development of
students' abilities to connect with, and utilize information to contruct personal
understanding results in improved performance in terms of personal mastery of
content.
 The systematic and explicit development of students' abilities to connect with,
interact with, snd utilize information to construct personal understanding results
in more positive attitudes to learning, increased active engagement in the learning
environment, and more positive perceptions of themselves as active, constructive
learners. Kuhlthau has in particular studied attitudes and feelings of certainty and
confidence in the search process, and demonstrates how feelings of uncertainty
and poor self-concept can change positively through engagement in active inquiry-
centered learning.
 The development of student competence is most effective when it is integrated
into flexibly delivered classroom instruction at the point of need.
 Active reading programs foster higher levels of reading, comprehension,
vocabulary development and language skills.
 There are benefits to students when school and public libraries communicate and
co-operate more effectively. Evidence suggests that students who are active school
library users are more likely to have more positive attitudes to public libraries and
using those libraries.
 Successful school library programs are ones that set clear expectations and
manageable objectives, establish realistic time lines, and gather meaningful and
systematic feedback from students and teachers on the impacts of the programs.
 School leaders tend to be more supportive when they can see the library actively
engaged in the teaching and learning process, and when they can articulate specific
impacts of this engagement. Such evidence to them demonstrates people-centered,
learning-cerntered empowerment.
We should be greatly encouraged by such findings, but it is not good enough to simply tout
these findings particularly in the context of shoring up image, position, role, power, or
status, or a clarion call for more funding for teachnology or resources. I believe central to
our role is the major task of developing our own school evidence that supports these
findings -- building the local case in the context of more global findings, as well as
identifying specific local learning dilemmas, and exploring how the school library program
might contribute to their solution.
SOME OPPORTUNITIES FOR EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE
One key area that teacher-librarians might focus on relates to students' engagement with
information technology. There are m,any important learning dilemmas emerging from
available research evidence, and these might form the centre of carefully planned,
evidence-based practice. The Table below highlights some learning dilemmas faced by
students when engaging with the World Wide Web. I have analyzed this literature from an
information literacy perspective, where information literacy is conceptualized as
centering on people connecting with information, interacting with information and
utilizing information as part of the learning process for knowledge construction. The
research, primarily American, provides insights into the cognitions, behaviors and
emotions that are commonly experienced during the process of interacting with electronic
information. This research, in contrast to the commonly held view that young people are
gurus in this vast digital world, suggests that the intuitiveness, ease, certainty, and success
as input and outcomes attributes of searching the World Wide Web are highly
questionable, and highlights significant learning dilemmas in this arena.

INFORMATION
LITERACY RESEARCH FINDINGS
DIMENSION

Connecting with Atkin (1998); Watson (1999); high levels of information overload;
information inability to manage and reduce large volumes of information;
Bilal & Watson (1998); McNicholas & Todd (1996); Todd (2000):
failure to retrieve documents based on aboutness; formulating
ineffective search queries; failure to utilize Boolean operators
Kuhlthau (1991); McNicholas & Todd (1996); Watson (1999):
considerable insecurity and uncertainty when searching;
McNicholas & Todd (1996); Kafai & Bates (1997); problems with
working with search engines;
Hertzberg & Rudner (1997); Nims & Rich (1998); tendency to
conduct simple searches, crafting poor searches; considerable
guessing of appropriate terms;
Nims & Rich (1998): high expectation of the technology's ability to
make up for poor searching techniques
Fidel (1999): examine only first screens of most sites
Schacter, Hung & Dorr (1998): preferred browsing techniques to
systematic, andlytic-based strategies;
Hirsch (1999, 1997): motivation for searching decreases when site
load time is slow, and especially in relation to graphics -- technical
implications

Interacting with Atkin (1998): coping strategies -- filtering, simplification, errors,


information delegating; feelings of confusion and frustration;
Bilal & Watson (1998); Hirsch (1999): not thinking critically and
evaluatively in searching; limited use of thesaurus
Hertzberg & Rudner (1997): typical user only performs 2 or 3
inquiries per search; very small number of citations examined (5-6);
abort searches quickly;
McNicholas & Todd (1996); Schacter, Hung & Dorr (1998); Hirsch
(1999): inability to judge quality of information
Watson (1999): inability to question the accuracy of Web information
McNicholas & Todd (1996); Wallace & Kuperman (1997); Hirsch
(1999): not able to judge relevance of information;
Fidel (1999): often inappropriately favoring visual cues; minimalist
behaviour -- made quick decisions at all stages of search process;
looked at pictures rather than textual information as signs of
relevance; use of "landmarks" rather than in-depth critical analysis of
sites to judge relevance and quality

Utilising McNicholas & Todd (1996): project management issues of time,


information workload management, meeting deadlines
Hertzberg & Rudner (1997): median amount of time spent in
searching was 5-6 minutes; willing to construct answer on limited
information; users satisfied with any somewhat-relevant hit
McNicholas & Todd (1996): tendency to plagiarize

As can be seen from the above analysis, students are experiencing a substantial range of
learning dilemmas associated with the World Wide Web. Any one of these learning
dilemmas provides a rich opportunity for teacher-librarians to intervene, and through
collaborative, inquiry-centered approaches, demonstrate that their practice makes a real
difference to student learning. This does not imply that information technology alone
provides the opportunities; opportunities exist with all facets of the library's information
literacy, reading, and literature programs. What is important is that the learning needs are
identified, instructional strategies developed, and considerations given to how this will be
evaluated. This is evidence-based practice. It might be in the form of statistics, or stories,
or documented case studies, or analyses of reflective student interviews or feedback
processes. It does not need to be complicated, but manageable, and clear. Oberg (2001)
identifies a range of evidence-based practices. In this paper, she asks: How can we show
that school libraries are making a difference in student learning? She explores key
approaches, some of which have already been touched on here. They are:
 Using research findings from the school library field; as indicated, these highlight an
extensive range of learning dilemmas that have a clear information literacy focus.
 Analysing the results of national, state or provincial testing programs: these provide
opportunities to see what key learning needs are, and how the library can
intervene to improve these. Often such results are accompanied by reports on the
local school, and sometimes these make explicit suggestions relating to critical
thinking skills, reading abilities, transfer of knowledge to new situations, ability to
interpret information, ability to structure and organise information. These are
opportunities begging the library program to intervene.
 Using locally available library and test data: the school library's automated system
can provide data about circulation of library materials; these data can be
correlated with learning programs, test scores, assignment results to see if there
are patterns that indicate that using the library makes a difference. For example, it
might show that the class that has the highest circulation, or the class where
collaborative inquiry learning processes have been implemented have scored
higher on reading comprehension or content mastery.
 Carrying out action research or teacher-researcher projects: at the heart of this is an
identified learning problem, and developing a cycle of collaborative planning,
acting, evaluating and reflecting to address it. The problem might be low
motivation for reading, plagiarism, weaknesses in skills of analysis and synthesis,
or it might relate to World Wide Web issues, such as issues centring on the
evaluation of web information. I want to commend to you the 1996 Volume 3 Issue
2 of School Libraries Worldwide, which documented a range of perspectives and
strategies on action research. Action research projects provide real, creative, and
collaborative opportunities for teacher-librarians to initiate and document
learning improvements. I want to commend to you the forthcoming book
 Using statistical data that is available or easily obtained: this approach might
include census data or educational system data, so that a specific school situation
might be compared to regional or state or national levels, and opportunities
identified for the school library program to intervene.
PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING
At the heart of evidence-based practice, and driving this practice, are 10 principles of
learning. I have been greatly influenced in my thinking by a paper called "Powerful
Partnerships: Shared Learning" (1999), developed by the American Association for Higher
Education and other associations, which articulates these principles of learning as a basis
for collaborative learning where students, teachers and community are all stakeholders. I
will briefly outline these. These principles form an exciting basis from which a library
program can be derived; they define the functions and roles of the library team working
transformatively for knowledge construction; they become the basis of the criteria for the
selection of resources; they shape the allocation of physical space in thelibrary; they are
the basis of developing school-wide ownership of the library program. In addition, they
become the marketing framework of the library, and are the basis for demonstating the
evidence of the power of the library. Each of these learning principles forms a basis
around which evidence might be collected to show the power of the library program.
WORKING FOR KNOWLEDGE
LEARNING PRINCIPLE CONSTRUCTION:
TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP

1. Learning is an active search for An inquiry-based learning approach is the


meaning by the learner: it is about central philosophy and practice of the school --
constructing knowledge rather than from it stems the information search process
passively receiving it; involving and the range of teaching-learning initiatives
learners directly in discovery of which focus on the development of the
knowledge; enabling them to transform intellectual scaffolds for engaging with and
prior knowledge and experience, and to using information for knowledge construction.
take responsibility for learning Inquiry based learning, not information literacy
or information skills, is the educative platform.
Outcomes articulated in terms of learning gains,
with evidence, becomes the strongest argument
for library support

2. Learning is about making and Need to situate information literacy advocacy


maintaining connections: linking and initiatives within an empowerment model
concepts, ideas, meaning; linking mind towards knowledge construction, rather than
and environment; linking self and conveying a deficiency notion -- ie students are
others; linking deliberation and action. somehow deficient because they do not have
these skills.
Ensuring instruction links needs to experience.
Giving learners responsibility for solving
problems and resolving conflicts.
Creating a physical and virtual environment that
is an invitation to connect, to get to know, to
know more.
Making sure my instruction makes explicit the
relationships of need to the curriculum.
Ensuring that I personalize interventions
appropriate to learners' circumstances and
needs.
Gathering evidence on which to base learning
initiatives and decisions.

3. Learning is developmental: a Planning for the progessive, developmental


cumulative process involving whole nature of each learning experience: instruction
person. Intellectual growth is gradual: should be additive and cumulative -> greater
advancement, consolidation, richness, complexity.
reinforcement; fostering an integrated Tracking student development of competence
sense of identity. (gathering the evidence).
Providing opportunities for trialing, testing,
reviewing, as well as opportunities for needs
assessment, discussion, reflection.
Systematic approaches to gathering evidence.

4. Learning is both individual and This might mean:


social: Responsive to students' Opportunities for peer tutoring and learning
personal histories and common from each other; enable students from different
cultures; opportunities for co-operative cultural backgrounds to experience each other's
learning; cultivating and inclusive traditions -- choice of resources;
community; valuing human differences. creative approaches responsive to different
learning styles and development of self-learning
packages to cater for different learning styles;
creating learning zones in the library, depending
on social or individual needs;
librarians daring to have fun with their students
-- in the library!
using school, home and community as resources
for collaborative learning.

5. Learning is strongly affected by Ensuring that the library plays a key role in
educational climate in which it takes building a strong sense of community.
place: value academic and personal Library conveys a clear sense that it values
success and intellectual inquiry; involve intellectual inquiry and knowledge construction.
all constituents in contributing to Library rules and regulations invite, rather than
effective student learning feeling forbid.
connected, cared for and trusted. Learning environment in which students feel
connected, cared for, trusted -- and where they
do not suffer from LH ("Loans Harrassment") or
PFS ("Petty Fines Syndrome")
Clearly thinking about what you convey that is
important to your students by your attitudes,
values, and in-house behaviors.
Celebrate knowledge successes.

6. Learning requires feedback, Instructional design encourages goal setting,


practice, and use: and opportunities for students to chart and
Feedback -> sustained learning measure their learning gain.
Practice -> nourishing learning Grab every opportunity to provide information
Opportunities to use -> meaningful on their progress towards meeting learning
learning goals.
Engage in a recurring process of needs analysis
and improvement.
Be prepared to take risk and learn from your
own mistakes.
Encourage development of learners as
constructive critics.
Ensure demands for behavior modification and
rules compliances are not your primary
feedback, rather your feedback is the feedback
of learning-partners.

7. Much learning takes place Creative and imaginative approaches to


informally and incidentally: instruction -- not necessarily the group one-size-
Activities beyond the classroom enrich fits-all approach.
formal learning experiences; Rethink distributuion of responsibilities.
Mentoring relationships beyond the Engage school staff as Information Literacy
classroom; support staff.
Learning in a variety of settings and Identify strategies that ensure the library is a
circumstances. learning portal to information and enrichment.
Develop pathways to extension and enrichment
on curriculum topics.
Provide a virtual or real space that links
students with peers, staff, community mentors.
Create a physical environment that is an open
invitation for mystery, intrigue, discovery --
where accidental discovery is highly likely: ie an
invitation to dance the "knowledge dance".
Use of volunteers and activities.
Provide on-line help points: quick-fix.

Learning is grounded in particular Provide opportunities to tailor education to


contexts and individual experiences: individual rather than mass-produced delivery.
Requires effort to transfer specific Explore how you can use educational
knowledge and skills to new technologies as tool for collaborative learning.
circumstances; Make the library a hotbed of learning activism, a
Grounded nature of learning: encounter space where they can encounter alternative
alternative perspectives and other perspectives and other realities, challenge
realities conventional views, test application of new
knowledge, engage in dialogue with people of
disparate perspectives and backgrounds -- in an
environment of safety and respect.
Focus on the development of the experience,
and reflection on the experience.
Provide students with opportunities to share
their experiences with others that have shaped
their identities and learning.
Understand factors which affect student
cognition.
Curriculum co-ordination to contextualize
learning experience.

9. Learning involves ability of Provide opportunities and processes to help


individuals to monitor own learning: students understand their strengths and
Understand how knowledge is weaknesses in learning.
acquired; Help students observe and record their own
Know how to work with capacities and progress in learning.
limitations; Awareness of own ways of Show students how to think about their learning
knowing; Ability to monitor own and learning processes in a reflective way.
learning.

10. Learning is enhanced by taking Students learn more when asked to tackle
place in the context of compelling complex and compelling problems that invite
situations: them to develop an array of workable and
Provides challenge and opportunity. innovative solutions.
Stimulates brain to conceptualize, Students tend to engage more when they
contemplate and reflect. produce work to be shared with multiple
Amplifies the learning process. audiences.
Ensure instruction provides opportunities for
active application of skills and abilities.
Effective instruction takes place when students
are placed in settings where they can draw on
past knowledge and competencies.

CONCLUSION
On the basis of what I have said, and in summary, I would like to suggest the following as a
model of teacher-librarians creating an information-knowledge environment for learning,
one that focuses on information connectivity and empowerment for knowledge
construction and the development of meaning and understanding. At its heart is an
educational philosophy and practice centering on inquiry learning, and which drives the
transformative actions and evidence-based practices centering on knowledge construction
and meaning making. This focus underpins the nature and scope of collaborations to
achieve learning outcomes, and in the context of the educational role of the teacher-
librarians, is likely to give emphasis to the information search process and enabling
students to connect with, interact with and utilize information in the process of knowledge
construction. This shapes and guides the selection of resources amd how information
technology is utilized across the school. And this focus underpins the nature of the
management role of the information-knowledge environment and its infrastructure to
create a knowledge sharing community.
At the heart of a school library empowering learning are teacher-librarians and educators
whose philosophy and actions empower learners to connect with, interact with and utilize
information to develop their own understanding, to construct their own meaning, and who
have the evidence to demonstrate this. It is about adding value and making a difference to
people. Systems, structures, buildings provide infrastructure, frameworks, contexts,
locations, and linkages are important, but they in themselves do not empower. It is people
who empower, and people who are empowered.
Senge (1990) claims that empowerment is one of four components that are central to
transformational leadership. These components are "the Four Es" -- Envisioning,
Energizing, Empathizing, and Empowering. Caldwell & Spinks (1992) argue that
transformational leadership is about leadership that transforms rather than simply
maintains the status quo; it is about leadership that brings about meaningful and
purposeful change; it is about leadership grounded in actions and evidence that create the
desired reality. Transformational leadership is about creating and enabling preferred
futures, and this is achieved through people who are empowered to take evidence-based
action. It is commitment to making a difference through action. It involves envisioning,
energizing, emphazing, and empowering. Central to this is a shared inquiry centered
philosophy and process of learning.
This calls for conceptualizing the role of the teacher-librarian as partner-leader. Partner-
leaders demonstrate:
 Purposeful leadership: have a clear vuision of desired learning outcomes for the
school;
 Strategic leadership: have a clear blueprint for translating learning-centred vision
into evidence-based actions;
 Collaborative and creative leadership: are able to creatively combine capabilities,
and mutually reinforce capabilities, to deliver real value to the school community;
 Renewable leadership: are able to be highly flexible and adaptive, continuously
learning, changing and innovating; and
 Sustainable leadership: being able to identify and celebrate achievements,
outcomes, and impacts -- showing, through evidence, the role of the teacher-
librarian is the most prized role in the school.
A personal philosophy of mine is "You begin the road by walking it". Today I present to
you the road, the way ahead, and I challenge you to walk it.
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