Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Action Is Eloquence

Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Action Is Eloquence

Article excerpt

Action Is "Action is eloquence." The words are Shakespeare's (n.d.; Coriolanus), and they have become my professional motto. My career is characterized by jumping at unexpected opportunities that seemed to fall from the sky. I've certainly changed lanes a number of times, driven by a desire to learn and make a tangible difference.


If you had asked the teenage me, I would have said that I was destined for a career in music, and indeed I completed an undergraduate degree in music education and a graduate degree in clarinet performance. I worked as a student assistant at two university music libraries, foreshadowing the eventual lane changes in my career. After some early ventures into being a freelance musician and studio instructor, I completed my education degree, with music and school librarianship as my teaching focuses. I spent many years as a middle school instrumental music teacher with a schedule that included a smattering of core subjects, mostly English and history. I loved teaching music and have remained an active musician in my life outside of school, but midway through my career I realized my true teaching passion was in teacher librarianship.


In 1999, when the opportunity arose to take over the library at my school, I jumped at the chance. Succeeding an exemplary teacher librarian made it possible to build deeper capacity for collaborative inquiry, reading engagement, and particularly for integrating technology into teaching and learning. The principal was very supportive, valuing the instructional leadership for learning processes and cross-curricular approaches that the teacher librarian provided.

All of this was within the growing external threat of massive cuts to educational funding in Ontario (Martin, 2009). I had arrived in my dream position only to have that rug pulled out from under me after a few short years. Elementary teacher librarian staffing was cut drastically in my school district. For one short year I found myself traveling between three schools, but the era of full-time positions was over.


In 2002 I became consultant for K-12 libraries for the Waterloo Region District School Board. Despite my relatively short tenure as a teacher librarian, I was fortunate to be hired for my competencies over my experience. The position involved supporting all aspects of the library program for 116 elementary and secondary schools. This included leading a comprehensive professional learning program for teacher librarians, teachers, and library support staff and delivering countless workshops for other instructional leaders, teachers, and students on information literacy, digital resources, information ethics, and educational technology. Administrative duties included managing all aspects of online database licensing and access, administering a professional learning fund that made it possible for teacher librarians to attend conferences, and participating in many system initiatives. One of the most interesting aspects of my position was extensive consultation in the design and functionality of new libraries and library renovations. Over my 12 years as consultant, we built 17 new school libraries and renovated 18.

The most important project during my tenure as consultant was the creation of the library learning commons website. We brought together a team of elementary and secondary teacher librarians to create a comprehensive suite of instructional resources that could be accessed from a common site or integrated into existing school library websites. The website made a huge impact within the school district, with a common yet adaptable instructional approach and seamless access to online resources. It gained national and even international attention, not only for the usefulness of the resources and design but also for the powerful model of collaboration in its creation and use across schools and panels. …

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