‘My understanding and practice of leadership in a school library.’

Prior to my study of ETL 504 I had not really considered the question of leadership in any sense at all. So to consider how leadership operates in a school and more specifically in a school library has been an interesting thought process.
My brain is overwhelmed with the theories – the absolute multitude of theories on leadership. I had previously thought leadership was a relatively simple thing to define, and you either had leadership abilities or you didn’t. It was more or less a case of ‘being born with it’. Of course now I know it’s not such a simple thing. There are many learned skills and styles of being a leader, however there does seem to be a some particular essence of ‘being a leader’, which may or may not be a ‘learned skill’.

At the forefront of my mind when considering leadership is John Kotter’s explanation that management and leadership are not the same thing (Kotter, 2012). This leaves me second-guessing everything I consider about leadership, to ensure it really is leadership and not management.

So to the school library and leadership. Most teacher-librarians are the only ones in the school; they do not have the luxury of working with other teacher librarians or in a team. Opportunities exist for them to display leadership qualities in other ways though. A teacher librarian in a secondary school can take the lead in initiating team teaching and inquiry learning projects. They can offer professional development along the same lines as well. They could ensure they become part of the literacy team or a team designed to improve student outcomes. This provides opportunities to disseminate some of the powerful information a teacher librarian has.

A teacher librarian in a primary school can do many of the above things as well. However the current trend of using library classes for RFF means there are fewer opportunities for team teaching. A teacher librarian in a primary school can lead a group of library monitors. They can also take the lead in book week celebrations and promoting reading events such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge. Often a primary school library also has a group of parent helpers who come in and do a range of jobs in the library. These people need to be guided and led and the teacher librarian is the obvious person to do this.

There is also opportunity for teacher librarians to lead at their network or peer meetings. They can take leading roles in the library world by publishing papers or posting to a blog. The well-know teacher librarian and blogger, Joyce Valenza is a fine example of this.

Clearly a teacher librarian can fulfil a leadership role in many different ways. Although the teacher librarian is often viewed as being on their own and removed from the general school environment they are able to present themselves as leaders in the school in a variety of ways, thus increasing their visibility and profile.


Kotter, J. (n.d.). Change Management vs. Change Leadership — What’s the Difference? – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Retrieved January 28, 2013, from


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