Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update




« BFTP: Becoming George | Main | Paraprofessionals: a dilemma »

Are good teachers also good librarians?

If your boss is seen as a librarian, she becomes a resource, not a limit. If you view the people you work with as coaches, and your job as a platform, it can transform what you do each day, starting right now. "My boss won't let me," doesn't deserve to be in your vocabulary. Seth Godin Moving Beyond Teachers and Bosses

Godin sees teachers as limiters, not enablers:

We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a 'good student.'

He says we form the same relationship with our bosses when they act as teachers.


Do classroom teachers need to start performing more like librarians? I've thought so for a long time. Fifteen years ago, when the Internet was just starting to be used by students in our schools, I watched as some boys looked up information about the Ebola virus at the Center for Disease Control using a library computer. To me, the ramifications were astounding.

When those boys returned to their classroom, they were suddenly the content experts on this topic, not Ms Anderson, the teacher. If Ms Anderson had always viewed herself as the content expert and dispenser of that content, she was in for a rude awakening. 

But if she sees herself as a process, rather than content, expert, Ms Anderson still has a valuable place in the information age. When those boys came back from the library, she needed to be able to ask questions like: 

  • Where did you get your information?
  • How do you know if the information is reliable?
  • Is the information important for others to know?
  • If so, how will you communicate this information?
  • And how will you know you've done a good job?

The teacher is asking the same kinds of question, performing in the same kind of role as the librarian.

With an increasing number of students carrying Internet-connected devices, they don't even have to leave their seats to be "content experts." This shift from content to process expert is accelerating, not diminishing.

And librarians ought to be helping teachers make the transition. 

Good librarians have always also been good teachers. Are good teachers also good librarians?

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (45)

Bravo! Your line about the teacher seeing herself as part of the process rather than someone disseminating information really spoke to me. This "guide on the side" form of teaching will result in students taking initiative for their own learning.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSherri Whitham

I love how Ms. Anderson sees herself as a "process" expert. When students as me a question that I'm not completely certain of the answer, I invite them to look it up with me. I share the process of using resources to research the topic.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTammie Celi

Yes, teachers greatly benefit professionally (and students benefit academically) when they utilize knowledge and skills that librarians display on a daily basis in their position. Thus, there should be more co-planning between teachers and librarians.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarina

I think I would add in the notion that one should read more than one source in order to be an expert.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterashley case

This perspective would be a shift on my campus. Many teachers are assigning research to the students, but checking in with the students on their understanding of information literacy is not a practice common to our teachers. I need to consider how I can encourage this shift.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStacia Salanoa

Students need to have access this information. An IPad issued to every student or a small computer lab in most classrooms allows for this. Right?

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRSH

Teachers are subject experts, as well as instructors. Teacher Librarians are information experts, as well as instructors. Librarians help direct teachers and students to quality sources and show how to use them.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLori B.

I agree that teachers will need to become more like Teacher Librarians. Our students need to be asked the same questions about the information they are accessing as they become content experts. We will assist in training out teachers.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

I think that this is indicative of a larger trend in education. We are no longer really teaching a "canon" of books and facts that students need to memorize by rote, but rather a process of inquiry. In other words, we are more concerned with teaching students how to learn and become advocates for their own education, and this process is enhanced by the access to information provided by the internet.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMike Weintraub

Good teachers can be good librarians with all of the necessary training that is required to be a librarian. A good teacher can borrow or learn from a librarian.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterC. M. W.

I see that kids access information all the time, either at the direction of their teacher or not. What I do not see is the kids analyzing and internalizing that information. Teachers seem to be happy with the regurgitation of the info, but do not ask students to explain where they got the information, if it is reliable and/or recent etc. Even to the point where students actually cut and paste from a Website and that is accepted as research. Yes, teachers need to be more llike TLs, newer teachers seem to understand this than those who have been around for awhile.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaureen Keough

In absolute agreement. As students begin research assignments, they need to know not only their content but also if their "content" comes from reliable sources.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFernando Navarro

I think librarians should be conduits of knowledge.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Lynch

I like the emphasis here on procedure, i.e. teacher librarians assist students in procedures to find accurate, relevant answers to their queries, whatever they be. A challenge for us is the ever present need, seldom actually uttered, for all students to pass. Students who chose not to engage their own abilities are negative data points for which schools are held accountable.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Stoffers

It's a brave new world where teachers, teacher librarians and students have to collaborate in order to bring together all the resources available.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterargueta

The process of students accessing information outside of formal classroom material changes the classroom dynamic and the teacher needs to be open to that. There is so much information available that no one can know everything. It is important that students learn to evaluate their sources; they must be able to cite their source and not just say, "I read it on Google," as so many of them do. Learning new things, sharing new information, evaluating the source from which it came, citing the source from which it came so that others may also evaluate your source are all important components of the new classroom paradigm.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMelinda Buterbaugh

The blog is appropriate to our situation as TLs. When the teachers come into my library to team teach, I end up being the subject expert and soon the students are subject experts. If we see more teachers teaching like TLs, then student competence increases noticeably.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterConstantine Treantos

The CCSS is getting teachers to do more research, not necessarily in the library. They don't always realize what the librarians can contribute to the teachers' new roles. It Ellen's school they are all going to the computer lab for more computers.

They need to learn more about the process of teaching research. And if they are not English teachers they may not remember learning how to do it. They don't know how to do a bibliography, note-taking, organization, or plagiarism. They need help.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Whelpton

All sorts of information is all over. Students need librarians to help them evaluate what they have found - is it accurate? Is it worth sharing?

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

The classroom teacher can only do some of what we do.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterM

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>