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Book review:

 

Technology-infused Instruction for the Educational Community: A guide for school library specialists
Farmer, Lesley S J 2004, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, MD.
SCIS No: 1294871
ISBN: 0810851180

This is a very thorough treatment of the topic of embedding technology into the role of the teacher librarian. It is American in focus but the information, ideas and strategies are transferable to the Australian context. It presupposes a much heightened role for the teacher librarian within the school community, backed up by a team of library support staff and with dedicated time to prepare and implement the programs. For many Australian workplaces this will present a problem. It also presupposes that the teacher librarian has a high level of knowledge of technology, which may also present a problem for the implementation of the suggested programs in Australian schools.

The first section of this book, The Context, looks at the pedagogical base for the implementation of technology-infused practices in all learning areas. The author points out that most libraries already supply automated catalogues and circulation systems, electronic databases, internet searching and networked resources. She feels it is a natural progression to move to providing software that offers the whole range of desktop publishing, with the teacher librarian able to instruct and troubleshoot for all the functions.

Teacher librarians can rely on just-in-time training and coaching to respond to users' needs. However, the author sees a move beyond this to the level of prepared instruction with online tutorials, video clips for orientation, links to web tutorials, streamed video files and web page development with customised help pages. This would involve an overlapping of information literacy with technical literacy, which would extend not only to the student body but also to professional development of staff and instruction of volunteers, parents, administrators and board members, and members of the community. This may be beyond the scope of the job as most teacher librarians see it.

The second section, The Practice, sets out in seven chapters the details of workshops for each part of the learning community: elementary students, middle school students, high school students, paid and volunteer library staff, parents, administrators and board members, and community members. The workshop templates are very detailed, beginning with outcomes and moving on to preparation, timeframes, content, resources, assessment and evaluation, and follow-up. The teacher librarian is seen as the catalyst and 'change leader' for technological development of the whole school. The book also includes a valuable glossary and extensive bibliography followed by a detailed index.

Farmer's book sets out to be quite single-minded about the value of technology in teaching. From the beginning, the author predicts that 85 per cent of future careers will involve technology and that today's educators need to navigate these waters. This book challenges teacher librarians who have already achieved a high level of technical competence and encourages them to take on a leadership role. It may motivate some to upgrade their competencies and become 'change leaders' but, for others, it may be intimidating.

Reviewed by Heather Fisher
Teacher librarian
New England Girls' School, Armidale, NSW

Originally published in The Australian Library Journal, February 2006.

Reprinted with permission of author and The Australian Library Journal.