How to become a teacher librarian: Australian careers in teaching

Teacher librarians have a unique role in the Australian education sector as libraries in schools are often seen as a fun escape from everyday class or a refuge for studying. They work in both primary and secondary settings and are responsible for identifying and providing appropriate resources for students to enhance their studies. Teacher librarians guide students to find the right tools to assist in their learning and also help students learn how a library works, so as to use it best to their advantage throughout their educational lifetime. Teacher librarians also help students familiarise themselves with computer and other technologies, run distance education programmes and manage the library’s resources. They have a crucial role in supporting the wider teaching staff of the school to improve student literacy by creating a literacy thirst and passion in a child’s early development. To become a teacher librarian you must have completed a relevant tertiary qualification, generally either in Education or Library Studies.

  • Task Career in focus: What a teacher librarian does

    The role of teacher librarian is a varied one encompassing a range of core tasks. Teacher librarians must have excellent communication skills, which are needed to teach students and staff how to use information systems, advocate for improvements to literacy programs and resources , work with administrative staff as well as contribute to curriculum and policy development. They also have responsibility for administrative tasks related to budget and staff management, as well as for the processes and policies directly affecting the library such as resource acquisition.

    Tasks:

    • Teach effective research skills
    • Manage library resources and purchase new materials
    • Develop library policies and procedures with admin staff
    • Perform end of year stocktakes and periodic weeding
    • Familiarise teachers and students with library resources and study tools
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a teacher librarian

    Teacher librarians must be able to effectively engage and communicate with young children and adults, whilst being able to remain well organised and have the ability to multi-task and prioritise. Basic financial management skills are an important aspect of the teacher librarian role, as this is often required to manage your allocated budget and use it to buy additional resources and programs as you see fit. It is also essential that teacher librarians have a good understanding of curriculum and pedagogy, as well as the fundamentals of information studies and library management.

    Skills/attributes
    • Organisation and time management skills
    • Communication skills when working with a variety of age groups
    • An understanding of current research methods and available resources
    • An interest in fostering literacy skills
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within teaching

    There are a number of possible career progression options available to qualified teacher librarians. Because being in a teacher librarian role often requires you to have experience and knowledge in a blend of topics, such as technology systems, education and management, this opens your career up to a variety of opportunities, some of which are outlined below.

    Principal

    Principals work with both education and administrative staff to ensure the smooth functioning of the entire school, and the skills you have acquired as a teacher librarian means you can effectively manage and communicate to both. Principals are generally experienced teachers who also have a strong understanding of the wider environment in which the school sits, including curriculum development, staff and budget management.

    Vocational Education and Training Lecturer

    Experienced teacher librarians who also hold a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment are able to lead courses and workshops for those wishing to learn more about, and potentially work in, information services and teaching settings.  This has become a growing sector, with more jobs being created in this area.

    Library Manager

    Teacher librarians, particularly those with specialised skills in information management and retrieval, can also move into library roles outside of the education sector that are of a more senior standing. These roles can include managing departments within public libraries, working in a corporate or parliamentary library, and even museum, archival and cultural services.

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a teacher librarian

    There are essentially two pathways to enter this industry, either through a teaching background or through experience in library services. To become a teacher librarian in Australia, you must hold a Bachelor-level qualification and complete further study in either education or information services.

    Starting Out

    Get a handle on core skills for working in information services within the education sector.

    Building Skills

    View courses that will build on your existing skills to further your career as a teacher librarian.

    Developing Your Resume

    Qualified teachers can expand their career opportunities by undertaking additional study in information services.

    Industry Recognition

    In order to work within the school system in Australia as a teacher librarian, you’ll need to register with your state authority.

    Entering the Workforce

    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your career in education. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for teaching jobs.

    Job Prospects in teaching: Working life as a teacher librarian

    Qualified teacher librarians are in demand and there are increasing numbers of job opportunities available for those in this field. 

Teacher Librarian Resources:

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