Does your child have the school library he/she deserves? Use the information at our new MySchool Library website to evaluate.
Studies have shown that school library programs have a significant effect on the learning achievement of students. It is important that parents take an interest in this important area of the school at a time when funding has been reduced for so many school libraries in Australia.
Take a few minutes to read “Definition of a school library” and then rate your school library by finding answers to these questions.
1. Is the school library staffed by a professional teacher librarian with adequate time to work with students and teachers? Australian standards* call for a full time teacher librarian for 17 total teaching staff, two for 50.
2. Do clerical staff shelve and check out books? Clerical assistants can free teacher-librarians to work with students.
3. Is the school library open to students every day, all day? Many school libraries are closed on some days due to low staffing levels. Many are closed to others when teacher librarians take a teacher’s class for their release time.
4. What is the annual budget for materials? Australian standards* recommend 12-34 items per student depending on the school enrollment, with a 10% annual replacement rate.
5. Are the materials in the school library current and a good match for your child’s assignments? If there is no teacher librarian, who manages collection development?
6. Ask your child if the teacher librarian works with the class to assist students to learn.
7. Is the Internet part of your student’s resources? Does the teacher librarian help students make the best use of the web?
8. Does your child like to read? Matching the right book to your child takes time and and an indepth knowledge of literature, from the classics to new releases. A teacher librarian is the only staff member whose job it is to do just this.
9. Does your child feel welcome in their library? Do they enjoy using the library?
If the answers to these questions do not provide you with a level of confidence,
• Email us here at The Hub and tell us about your school library, the good and the bad. What does your child have to say about their library?
•Join our writing campaign and send a letter to your local Federal member. It is time for a National standard for funding and staffing for school libraries. Details of members can be found here, and a sample letter here. Feel free to use it as is, change it a bit to reflect your own circumstances, or write one of your own.
• Speak with other parents about your concerns, you may not be alone.
• Contact (or join) your school parent group (P&C, P&F) and get the school library issue on their agenda.
•Express your concerns to your Principal. With no mandatory requirement for library funding and staffing, this is who decides how much or how little is allocated to your school library. Your library budget and staffing reflects how much your principal understands and values the contribution that libraries make to education.
This document is based upon “Does Your Child Have a Good School Library” by the British Columbia Coalition for School Libraries. Copies may be made for any educational purposes without permission. See http://bccsl.ca/does_n.htm
Sample parent brochure This is our own adaptation of the BC brochure, done with permission for educational use.
*Read about Australian Standards for school libraries in
Learning for the Future: Developing Information Services in Schools. 2nd ed. Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association. Carlton South, Vic.: Curriculum Corporation, 2001. [Copies are available @ $32.95 from Curriculum Corporation
Report shows inequities and inadequacies in school library resourcing
Australian Council of State School Organisations, Australian Education Digest, 13 August 2009
A new survey by Edith Cowan University for the Australian Library and Information Association and the Australian School Library Association, has released its initial report. What it shows is a great inequity between private and government school library staffing and funding.
The survey found that the majority of school library budgets are abysmal! In particular, 75% of government schools have annual budgets of under $20,000, 50% are under $5000, and some 17% of budgets are under $1000. Altogether, nearly one third of all schools surveyed have budgets of less than $5000. And in the NT, which includes many remote schools, over half have budgets under $500!
Read further from the Australian School Libraries Research Project survey.
What some Australian parents are doing: Submission from the Western Australian Council of State School Organizations, 2002, on school libraries and the online environment. Click on WACSSO submission.
What Canadian parents are doing:
“The Ontario Coalition for School Libraries (OCSL) is a volunteer organization working to heighten public, media, and government attention to the alarming state and growing crisis in Ontario’s school libraries. Parents, educators, business people, cultural sector representatives and concerned individuals are working together to put school libraries on the government agenda.”
Ontario School Library Association brochure for parents.