"As members of the school instructional team, teacher-librarians provide a leadership role in information literacy and work collaboratively with classroom teachers to ensure that literacy skills are integrated effectively into the instructional program." (Achieving Information Literacy, P. 9)

Becoming a successful Teacher-Librarian requires an educator to embrace life-long learning by educating themselves with the latest technologies, resources, literature, and programs. Continual professional development, reflection, and foresight are also leadership qualities that respected Teacher-Librarians or Library Media Specialists possess. The Achieving Information Literacy document also describes a leader as someone that has, "Personal skills such as a commitment to lifelong learning, communication skills, flexibility, positive attitude, accepts challenges, and is a team player." All of these qualities mentioned enable the Teacher-Librarian, as a leader, to take on leadership roles to communicate and collaborate with admin and staff to provide instruction to students and professional development for staff.

The leadership roles of the Teacher-Librarian is set out as follows in Achieving Information Literacy:

  • Meet regularly with school administration
  • Provide in-service and professional development for staff
  • Serve on curriculum and school committees

The leadership roles noted in Branch and Oberg's article, The Teacher-Librarian as Instructional Leader, as agreed upon by Teacher-Librarians and principals in their research are:
  • cooperative planning and teaching
  • collection development
  • inservicing teachers

Other studies mentioned in their article have also confirmed the important role of the Teacher-Librarian as an Instructional Leader. "The 21st century teacher-librarian must be an instructional leader. This means focusing on two key challenges - leadership in a complex organization and information literacy instruction" (Branch & Oberg, 2001. p. 9). Teacher-Librarians who are committed to becoming experts in the field of information literacy and instruction will help to improve student achievement. Involvement in units of instruction from the very beginning is also where the Teacher-Librarian can display real leadership. The T-L should be responsible for suggesting ideas for activities, and in the break down of the steps needed to accomplish the task, including which steps are to be performed by whom.

Fulfilling these roles will help the Teacher-Librarian build strong relationships with their colleagues, which in turn may prompt staff to work with the Teacher-Librarian to help construct an effective library program that directly improves student achievement. Through this collaboration the T-L can demonstrate to staff that the library program will help them meet existing learning outcomes, not create new ones. Integrating technology and information literacy skills within the existing curriculum, working as partners, the teacher and T-L can successfully attain their goals while improving student achievement.

Effective Time Management for the T-L Leader

The following suggestions are listed by Woolls to help improve the T-L effectiveness through time management:
  • Begin/End day with quiet planning time
  • Start the day with one task that can be accomplished quickly
  • Keep your calendar/plan book up to date
  • Focus on one project at a time
  • Meet all deadlines (personally or set by admin)
  • Delegate well
  • Avoid trying to do everything perfectly
  • Assign priorities to tasks

Professional Competencies (Achieving Information Literacy, 2003)
Below is a table outlining the leadership roles of a Teacher-Librarian and specific examples to fulfill these roles. There are more detailed examples in the Achieving Information Literacy document (check out the Reference page).

Places a priority on staff relationships and leadership in the implementation of change.
Examples: collaboration; aware of developments in curriculum, new technologies; serves on advisory committees
Provides leadership in collaborative program planning and teaching to ensure both physical and intellectual access to information
and committment to voluntary reading.

Examples: advocates integration of info skills into classroom; collaborates with teachers to develop info literacy skills including
decision-making, problem-solving, & research strategies.
Knows curriculum programs mandated by the province, district and school.
Examples: aware of new curricula; provides support for teachers for training and implementation.
Understands students and their social, emotional, and intellectual
Examples: understand child growth & development for age level of school; match resources to variety of learning styles; adapt curriculum
for students with special needs.
Has expert knowledge in evaluating learning resources in different formats and media to support instructional program.
Examples: uses school/district policy to select appropriate resources; evaluates print, cd-rom & on-line versions of databases; develops &
manages a collection of quality materials.
Develops and promotes the effective use of informational and imaginative resources in all formats through cooperative professional activities.
Examples: promotes voluntary reading; develops themes/celebrations
that reflect school curriculum & community; assist students and
teachers in effective use of resources & technologies.
Provides appropriate information, resources or instruction to satisfy the needs of individuals and groups.
Examples: recommends learning resources for specific learning outcomes; works with individuals & groups to conduct searches, access information
evaluate information, & develop critical thinking.
Uses appropriate information technology to acquire, organize and disseminate information.
Examples: establishes, maintains & teaches use of on-line catalogue; selects appropriate software, hardware & security; contributes to school web page.
Manages Library programs, services and staff to support the stated educational goals of the school.
Examples: develops an integrated library program linked to the curricular goals of the school; manages space & equipment; maintains inventory of materials.
Evaluates program and services.
Examples: actively seeks opportunities for improvement; involves school staff in program evaluation; conducts regular needs assessments; prepares oral & written reports.


Asselin, M., Branch, J. L., & Oberg, D. (Eds.). (2003). Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in Canada (Monograph). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian School Library Association: Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada.

Branch, J. & Oberg, D. (2001). The Teacher-Librarian in the 21st Century: The Teacher-Librarian as Instructional Leader. School Libraries in Canada, 21(2), 9. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Leadership photo. Retrieved from: www.aast.edu/.../ 2_3_2_leadership-risesmart.jpg

Woolls, Blanche. (2008). The school library media manager. (4th edition). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.