Information Specialist vs Teacher – Coping with tension or striking a balance?

The following is in response to a task asking MEd(TL) students to discuss:

* the tensions between the information specialist and the teaching role of the TL; and
* how you think you might cope with these tensions.

I am not quite sure why there needs to be tension between the information specialist and teaching roles of the TL. I think those are roles that complement each other very well. If the idea is that there is competition for priority and time spent pursuing or fulfilling those roles, I concede that as a fair point. However, balancing competing facets of your job is fairly standard in the professional world. Primary school classroom teachers need to balance the generalist nature of their teaching role with the specific interests and expertise they may bring to the school. They also need to balance their various roles relating to instruction, pastoral care, administration, extra-curricular activity supervision and more.

When working as a TL, I would attempt to balance the various demands of the different roles by trying to make the competing demands as transparent as possible. I would try to keep lists of tasks that need attention and try to allocate tasks into categories relating to the role they pertain to as Purcell (2010) recommended when studying your practice for effectiveness of time use. Then I would try to prioritise – probably using a hybrid of the teaching method of identifying and completing “must do” and “can do” tasks in conjunction with Wilson’s (2009-2018) application of the 80/20 principle where in any given planning time you identify the tasks that will give you the most ‘bang for your buck’. These prioritisation techniques would be applied across the role categories to ensure that progress was being made in all roles and facets of the job. Setting up a system or routine like this to follow should help to keep things on a more even keel and make it easier to get back on track after the inevitable urgent emergency situations arise demanding immediate attention and tearing well-intentioned plans and programs to shreds.


Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

Wison, T. (2009-2018). How to make the 80/20 rule work at work. In Time Management Success. Retrieved June 3, 2018 from

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