Petition deadline Thursday

8 11 2009

Next week the sitting of Parliament resumes in Canberra. The Petitions Committee chair will receive our petition on Friday and take it to the Minister of Education and her counterparts next week.  So last chance to sign.

Then, what do you think might be our next step?  Many in the Australian library community have for the past decade called for a review of school libraries in Australia. One is Friends of  Libraries Australia President, Alan Bundy.  Read his letter to the Victorian Minister of Education in 2003.  He asks for a national review of school libraries in crisis.  Alan Tudge’s response is now dated.  The 2007 Staff in Australia’s Schools report indicates that teacher librarians are one of the shortage areas for primary specialist teachers.

Certainly many bodies concerned with school libraries, teacher librarians, children’s books, public education, principals’ groups, unions, and so on would be interested in making submissions to such an inquiry.  So write to Julia Gillard now.  The time is right with the developments in a national curriculum and new libraries being built under BER and the devolution of budgeting and staffing to school principals.

The last national review was the Fenwick Report of 1966 commissioned by the then Library Association of Australia.  This report had a strong influence on eventual Commonwealth funding of school libraries, the building of libraries, the development of standards (Books and Beyond) and the training of teacher librarians in the halcyon days of the 1970s.  But what has happened since school libraries have become the responsibility of the states and territories?

Australia is well overdue for a review of school library staffing and funding and role in supporting teaching and learning.

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