Students' Information Literacy Needs in the 21st Century: Competencies
Prepared by the ASSOCIATION FOR TEACHER-LIBRARIANSHIP IN CANADA (ATLC)
and the CANADIAN SCHOOL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION (CSLA), November 1997.
Students in Canada today need to be able to think rationally and
logically. With more and more sources of information, both print and
electronic, and the increasing difficulty of ensuring that students can
derive meaning from this information, the role of the teacher-librarian
becomes central. Teacher-librarians are skilled in accessing and
evaluating information regardless of delivery system, book or computer,
and providing leadership in the appropriate use of newer information
There is a significant body of research that demonstrates that a
qualified teacher-librarian has a positive impact on school culture and
student achievement. Indeed, several studies have established that
teachers collaborate more in schools with a teacher-librarian and
students read more, enjoy reading more, write better, access and use
information more effectively and excel in academic content areas. This
does not happen by chance, however.
In these schools information literacy is incorporated into school and
classroom programs because:
the program is recognized as a partnership of the principal,
teacher and teacher-librarian, supported by
the school district and community;
the district insists on flexible scheduling [the teacher-librarian
is not the preparation time or "relief" for classroom colleagues];
the principal encourages collaboration and team teaching through
this flexible schedule;
teachers acknowledge that the processing and use of information is
a school-wide concern, for integration with classroom content
the teacher-librarian takes the initiative, places a priority on
cooperative program planning with colleagues and encourages team
The teacher-librarian is a highly skilled teacher, with
competencies provided by a combination of teacher education, classroom
experience and courses in teacher-librarianship and information studies.
The teacher-librarian should be in the forefront of curriculum and staff
development, familiar with the full range of instructional strategies
and learning styles, able to organize time and resources, and active in
professional concerns within the school and the district.
In approving this document, school boards, agencies and professional
associations affirm the research evidence that indicates that integrated
library programs impact positively on collaboration, leadership and
student achievement when the teacher-librarian has experience as a
classroom teacher, qualifications in teacher-librarianship, information
studies and learning resources management, preferably at the graduate
level, and works collaboratively with teachers in flexibly scheduled
programs to integrate information problem-solving skills and strategies
in the ongoing instructional program.
The competent teacher-librarian is committed to:
the principles outlined in the Students' Bill of Information
implementing curriculum with colleagues;
initiating collaboratively planned and taught programs to
integrate information literacy in the context of the curriculum; and
the effective use of information technologies.
Professional Competencies relate to the
teacher-librarians' knowledge and skill in the areas of collaboration
and leadership, curriculum and instruction, cooperative program planning
and teaching, information resources, information access, technology,
management and research, and the ability to apply these abilities as a
basis for providing library and information services.
Personal Competencies represent a set of skills,
attitudes and values that enable teacher-librarians to work efficiently
and effectively, be good communicators, focus on continuing learning
throughout their careers, demonstrate the value-added nature of their
contributions and thrive in the new world of education.
The following sections highlight the major professional and
personal competencies of teacher-librarians and provide practical
examples of the multitude of roles and tasks that teacher-librarians can
perform. The examples are illustrative and are tempered by critical
factors such as the nature of school leadership and culture, the climate
for collaboration and innovation in the work environment, flexible
scheduling, the time allocation of professional and support staff and
the specific education and training of the teacher-librarian to do the
1.1 places a priority on staff relationships and leadership
in the implementation of change.
EXAMPLES: Establishes rapport with school staff,
students and the community. Develops a collaborative approach with the
principal, teachers and other staff. Provides an environment conducive
to learning. Keeps abreast of and communicates developments in
curriculum, instructional strategies, and newer information
technologies. Participates in the school's governance by serving on
advisory and decision-making bodies.
1.2 provides leadership in collaborative program planning and
teaching to ensure both physical and intellectual access to information
and commitment to voluntary reading.
EXAMPLES: Advocates the integration of information
skills and strategies in classroom programs through collaborative
program planning and team teaching with colleagues. Develops with
teachers a coordinated approach to information literacy, including
decision-making, problem-solving and research strategies, integrated
with classroom instruction. Understands and distinguishes between
physical and intellectual access to information. Provides leadership for
reading and research programs, incorporating both informational and
imaginative literature and technologies. Plans and teaches with teachers
from establishing objectives through to student assessment and unit
1.3 knows curriculum programs mandated by the province,
district and school.
EXAMPLES: Is aware of new curricula and implications
for implementation. Provides support for teachers through training and
implementation. Understands the appropriate integration of resources and
technologies with specific curriculum areas. Promotes congruence of
stated learning outcomes, delivered curriculum, assessment and
supporting resources and technologies.
1.4 understands students and their social, emotional, and
EXAMPLES: Understands child and adolescent growth
and development for the age levels of the school. Can respond to student
needs and interests. Works with teachers and others to match resources
to a variety of learning styles and requirements and to adapt the
curriculum and program for students with special needs.
1.5 has expert knowledge in evaluating learning resources in
different formats and media, both on-site and remote, to support the
EXAMPLES: Works within written school and district
policies on the selection of learning resources and their appropriate
use. Works within a written school policy on the purchase and management
of all school resources and their access. Evaluates print, CD-ROM and
on-line versions of databases. Selects the best books, journals,
nonprint and electronic resources for specific curriculum areas and
specific learning outcomes using authoritative evaluation sources and
selection"tools". Organizes teacher involvement in evaluation. Compiles
guides to resources both on and off site. Develops and manages a
collection of quality materials that reflect resource-based units of
1.6 develops and promotes the effective use of informational
and imaginative resources in all formats through cooperative
EXAMPLES: Promotes voluntary reading throughout the
school. Develops themes and celebrations that reflect the school's
curriculum and unique community. Designs and produces materials for
specific instructional purposes, where commercial materials are not
available. Assists students and teachers in the effective use of
resources and technologies.
1.7 provides appropriate information, resources or
instruction to satisfy the needs of individuals and groups.
EXAMPLES: Recommends learning resources for specific
learning outcomes. Works with individuals and groups to identify'
problems, frame questions, check authority, evaluate information and
develop critical thinking. Provides guidance on accessing information
appropriate to the specific need. Understands the design and structure
of bibliographic and other databases. Conducts searches from complex or
difficult sources. Answers questions using on-site and remote resources.
Assists students and teachers with using authoring tools in print,
electronic and multimedia formats. Supports colleagues who are accessing
information services from the classroom.
1.8 uses appropriate information technology to acquire,
organize and disseminate information.
EXAMPLES: Establishes, maintains and teaches the use
of an on-line catalogue of the library collection. Works on information
management teams to select appropriate software, hardware and security
for desktop access. Contributes to a home page for the World Wide Web
for the school. Links the library page to other relevant curriculum
sites. Informs school community of copyright issues. Keeps up-to-date
with new products and modes of information delivery. Plans and
participates in the development and provision of information
1.9 manages library programs, services and staff to support
the stated educational goals of the school.
EXAMPLES: Develops an integrated library program
linked to the curricular goals of the school. Develops procedures for
the cost-effective selection, acquisition, organization, management and
use of resources. Manages professional and support staff Recruits,
selects, trains and motivates volunteers. Manages space and equipment.
Maintains an inventory of materials and equipment. Plans and manages a
budget which reflects the instructional program. Develops a marketing
plan for specific audiences. Plans strategies for securing support for
learning resource services in the school and community.
1.10 evaluates program and services.
EXAMPLES: Actively seeks opportunities for
improvement and strives for excellent programs and services. Involves
school staff in program evaluation. Conducts regular needs assessments
using research tools such as questionnaires, focus groups and
interviews. Prepares oral and written reports on program development.
Reports regularly and confers with the principal and staff on program
implementation. Conducts research related to the solution of information
management problems. Demonstrates how library and information services
add value to the school. Refocuses programs and services on new
2.1 is committed to program excellence.
EXAMPLES: Seeks feedback and uses it for continuous
improvement. Celebrates own success and that of others. Takes pride in a
job well done. Shares new knowledge with others at conferences and in
the professional literature. Uses the research base of education and
teacher-librarianship as a resource for improving services.
2.2 seeks out challenges and sees new opportunities both
inside and outside the library
EXAMPLES: Takes on new roles in the school community
that require an information leader. Uses library-based knowledge and
skills to solve a variety of information problems. Expands the library
collection beyond traditional media such as books and journals. Creates
the"library without walls".
2.3 sees the big picture.
EXAMPLES: Recognizes that information seeking and
use are part of the creative process for individuals. Sees the library
and its information services as part of the bigger process of making
informed decisions. Anticipates trends and proactively realigns library
and information services to take advantage of them.
2.4 looks for partnerships and alliances.
EXAMPLES: Provides leadership in information
management. Forms partnerships with other libraries for resource
sharing. Seeks alliances with vendors to improve products and services.
Seeks alliances with
researchers in education and library and information studies to conduct
2.5 creates an environment of mutual respect and
EXAMPLES: Knows own strengths and the complementary
strengths of others. Is dependable. Values and acknowledges the
contributions of others in a problem solving environment.
2.6 has effective communications skills.
EXAMPLES: Runs meetings effectively. Presents ideas
clearly and enthusiastically both orally and in writing. Requests
feedback on communication skills and uses it for self improvement.
2.7 works well with others in a team.
EXAMPLES: Seeks out opportunities for team
participation. Asks for mentoring from others when needed. Looks for
ways to enhance personal performance.
2.8 provides leadership.
EXAMPLES: Exercises leadership as a member of teams
within the school and community. Seeks opportunities for leadership.
2.9 plans, prioritizes and focuses on what is
EXAMPLES: Recognizes that ongoing planning and time
management are required. Reviews goals with administrators and
colleagues on a regular basis.
2.10 is committed to lifelong learning.
EXAMPLES: Advocates for a learning environment to
encourage the contributions of staff members. Participates in
2.11 is flexible and positive in a time of continuing
EXAMPLES: Willing to take on different
responsibilities and respond to changing needs. Maintains a positive
attitude and helps others to do the same. Looks for solutions. Uses
technology as an enabler.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Teacher-librarian: A professional teacher with a
minimum of two years of successful classroom experience and additional
qualifications in the selection, management and utilization of learning
resources, who manages the school library and works with other teachers
to design and implement resource-based instructional programs.
School library: The instructional centre in the
school that coordinates and provides on site and offsite access to
information, resources, services and programs that integrate information
literacy, the intellectual access to information, with teachers, to
develop independent learners who are effective users of information and
ideas and committed to informed decision-making.
School library program: The collaboratively
planned and taught units of study developed through the shared expertise
and equal partnership of classroom teachers and teacher-librarians based
on the principles of resource based learning and designed to achieve the
educational goals of the school.
Support staff: Under the direction of a
teacher-librarian, may include graduates of a post-secondary library
technician program who organize and maintain the resources and equipment
and provide reference and technical support services to teachers and
students; clerical staff who provide support services in areas such as
acquisition, circulation, and processing of resources, shelving and
filing of materials, and typing or word processing; adult and student
Information literacy: The ability to: recognize
the need for information to solve problems and develop ideas; pose
important questions; use a variety of information gathering strategies;
locate relevant and appropriate information; assess information for
quality, authority, accuracy and authenticity Includes the abilities to
use the practical and conceptual tools of information technology to
understand form, format, location and access methods, how information is
situated and produced, research processes, and to format and publish in
textual and multimedia formats and to adapt to emerging
This document is based on prior work by the Association for
Teacher-librarianship in Canada and the Canadian School Library
The format has been adapted from one developed by the Special
Libraries Association (Washington, DC).
Prepared by a joint committee of the Association for
Teacher-librarianship in Canada and the Canadian School Library
Association - Joan Harper (CSLA); Ken Haycock (ATLC/CSLA Chair), Judith
Kootte (CSLA); Pat Parungao (ATLC); Liz Austrom (ATLC) - in consultation
with provincial and national education groups and associations and a
national response panel.
Research evidence for these competencies has been reported in
scholarly and professional journals and monographs and in Australia,
Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Learning to learn: Policies and guidelines for r the
implementation of resource-based learning in Newfoundland Labrador
schools Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education, 1991.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
School library policy for the province of Prince Edward Island Prince
Edward Island Department of Education, 1989.
Nova Scotia school libraries: Standards and practices. Nova Scotia
Teachers Union, 1987.
Standards and practices for New Brunswick school libraries. New
Brunswick Teachers Association Library Council, 1989.
Direction générale d'évaluation et des ressources
didactiques. Also: Library resources in the schools: Pedagogical and
organizational aspects [English translation]. Québec Ministère
de l'Education, 1987.
Partners in action: The library resource centre in the school
curriculum. Ontario Ministry of Education, 1982. Also: Information
literacy and equitable access: A framework for change. Ontario Ministry
of Education, 1995.
Resource-based learning: An educational model. Manitoba Education and
Resource-based learning: Policies, guidelines and responsibilities for
Saskatchewan learning resource centers. Saskatchewan Education,
Focus on learning: An integrated program model for Alberta school
libraries. Alberta Education, 1985. Also: Focus on research: A guide to
developing student research skills. Alberta Education, 1990.
Developing independent learners: The role of the school library resource
centre. British Columbia, Ministry of Education, 1991.
Guidelines for the development of school information centres. Northwest
Territories Education, 1990.