Using evidence-based practice to promote teacher librarian services.

Thanks to the increasing influence of technology it is now easier than ever to gather information, and therefore extremely important that teacher librarians [TLs] promote their usefulness to their fellow teachers, their principal and members of their school community [cite]. Not only is the promotion of library services a part of the ‘Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians’ (Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association, 2012) to which all excellent TLs should aspire; but it also increases awareness of their abilities, enhancing collaboration requests which is well documented as having a significant impact on learning (Fullan, 1999; Gibbs, 2003; Farmer, 2007; Haycock, 2007; Morris, 2007; Todd, The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations, 2008). This is why early implementation of evidence-based practice by TLs is so vital.

What is evidence-based practice? According to Todd (2003) and Lamb & Johnson, (2013) evidence-based practice is ‘the process of documenting how a teacher librarian [TL] makes a difference in student learning’, by recording the effectiveness of library initiatives a teacher librarian demonstrates their significance to student learning which may help increase their influence within the school.

How can evidence-based practice be incorporated practically? Firstly, recording the amount of money raised for the school as the result of a book fair, or the number of potential parents who visited library events organised by a TL documents the effectiveness of library promotions. It is simple to measure the difference a TL makes to a program or a unit of study when they have had direct involvement. Lamb & Johnson (2013) provides a great example ‘count the use of proper citations in presentations a few days after a mini-lesson on citing sources’, this demonstrates how easy it is to document TL impact from everyday interactions with student.

However, the multi-faceted role of the TL means that differences that they make to the learning will not always be from direct interaction with students. An example of indirect involvement from a TL; a TL provides in-service training to fellow staff members on web 2.0 resources, this enables teachers to incorporate them into their classrooms thus setting the stage for increased student engagement. In this example a TL can provide evidence or both direct [in-service training] and indirect influence [its subsequent utilization in the classroom]. Questionnaires are a great way to obtain evidence of both measures, providing staff a questionnaire after in-service training asking them to indicate ‘what they learned’ (Todd, Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement, 2003), and then providing a follow-up questionnaire a week or more after training asking staff who has incorporated their new skills in the classroom provides documentation of the TLs impact. Alternatively, a TL has evaluated some of the schools’ resources, determined that they no longer meet current standards and has arranged for them to be replaced. Asking teachers to document the quality of resources utilized by students in presentations both before and after improvements were made, provides evidence for the indirect influence on student learning.

In conclusion, it is more important than ever for TLs to promote the differences that they make to learning and to the school community. By incorporating evidence-based practice a TL is able to provide tangible proof of their value to the school, and promote services that may otherwise be underutilized.


Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association. (2012, Dec 10). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved Dec 1, 2013, from Australian School Library Association:

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide , 12 (1), 56-65.

Fullan, M. (1999). Deep meaning of inside collaboration. In Change forces: the sequel (pp. 31-41). London: Falmer Press.

Gibbs, R. (2003). Reframing the role of the teacher librarian: the case for collaboration and flexibility. Scan , 22 (3), 4-7.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 25-35.

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2013). Library media program: Evidence-based decisionmaking. Retrieved Jan 6th, 2014, from The School Media Specialist:

Morris, B. J. (Ed.). (2007). Principal support for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide , 13 (1), 23-24.

Todd, R. J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations. Scan , 27 (2), 19-28.

Todd, R. J. (2003, April 1). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. Retrieved Jan 16, 2013, from School Library Journal: