The Heart of a School: A "Day in the Life"" of a Teacher-Librarian

Jody Howcroft

“The heart of a school.”1  Roch Carrier, Canadian author and National Librarian,  used this phrase to describe school libraries. Think of a school library you have visited recently. Would you describe it in the same way?

The fact is that if we took a tour across the province there would be a huge discrepancy,  from shining examples of the ideal library to libraries  that languish in a state of neglect.

Let’s stop for a moment on our imaginary tour at one school: Cathy Wever Elementary  School in Hamilton, a school that celebrated its one-year anniversary  this past September.  It is a model of what every school of today should be: a beacon within its gritty, downtown neighbourhood.  The library in Cathy Wever is an example of the ideal – truly the “heart of the school” – and it is here where we will spend the day.

Only 10 percent of Ontario elementary schools have a full-time teacher-librarian, compared with 42 percent 25 years ago.2

7:45 a.m.
By its location within steps of the school’s front door, the library signals its status in the school. A sign says “Welcome” and the doors are wide open.
Sue MacLachlan, the school’s full-time teacher- librarian, is out making her rounds. She adeptly juggles a tangle of bulbs and wires while making repairs to AV equipment and determining which pieces need to be sent out for repair. Cathy Wever is a school of 654 students, with two floors and a generous footprint, making this a time-consuming  task.  This  multitasking master  chats  with colleagues at the same time, updating them on new arrivals in the library, planning opportunities to work as a team, and fielding their requests for materials: “Is there a picture  book  suitable for Intermediate-level students touching on the theme  of  acceptance?” “Could  a  collection  of books on pioneers be set aside?”


8:30 a.m.
Back in the library, MacLachlan starts pulling books for the staff she connected with on her rounds while  bracing for the bell to ring. Ten minutes to go … This  room  shines. Windows  cover  one  full length of the room. The furniture is comfortable, unblemished, and  clean. The  space allows for an enviable floor plan consisting of computers, tables, a desk, a carpeted area for read-alouds, comfortable seating, two offices, a professional library, a  book  room,  a  circulation  desk, and books – precisely organized shelves stocked with a large, current collection.


8:40 a.m.



press standing around podium

For a dramatic several days in early February, the activities of ETFO, the Ontario  Public   School  Boards’  Association (OPSBA),  and  th

etfo president sam hammond speaking at podium outside

On October 11, 2012 ETFO filed a  court  challenge  against  the Ontario government’s Bill 115 on grounds that the law, which strips the education sector of its right to bargain collectively, violates rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.