Lyn Hay Star Witness:-) 3 June Inquiry Hearing

2 06 2010
Today Lyn Hay, Charles Sturt University Lecturer,  was the “star witness” to answer questions from the committee of Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Canberra. CSU is the last of three institutions training TLs in Australia, and has the greatest intake.
Lyn was very good, as you would have expected, providing lots of graphed info on CSU TL student intake and grads over the years in terms of age, gender, pathways into course, where students come from.  Hope this handout will be made available.
Sharon Bird, Dr. Sharman Stone (Liberal Vic), Mike Symon (Labor Vic), Dr Dennis Jensen (Lib WA) from the House Committee on Education and Training were the ones I heard ask questions.
They were interested in:
Recruitment – especially how to get the under late 30s-40s interested in entering the profession and why they aren’t entering the course.  Lyn told them there are no longer any undergraduate programs. The last disappeared in the mid-90s. Dennis Jensen wanted to know why.  No real answer able to be given, but certainly involves image of TLs.
Collaborative teaching – why this is needed if all teachers are supposed to be able to teach IL.  Lyn spoke, of course, re the need for pre-service teacher ed on IL and collaboration with TLs, experienced TLs working with ed programs (Canberra did this) and did illustrate the value of teams in learning, esp from her research. (NB: I think we need to give more evidence to the committee re the value of collaborative teaching, not just with other specialist teachers, but with TLs in particular.)  They were very interested in the fact that Lyn’s research involves student feedback on the value of the TL and asked for the reference.
The effect of IT in changing the image of librarianship. Lyn made a good point about the importance of the library as the one open access (unlike irregularly staffed labs) facility in the school where students could access printers, software, internet, and help at time of need.
Mike Symon asked about the demand for trained TLs.  Where does it come from?  Lyn spoke about the diocese in northern Qld with 28 new libraries, yet no staffing formula for TLs. She spoke to a conference there about this and demand has grown. She mentioned the schools in Vic whose students are educationally disadvantaged by not having TLs.  (Where DOES it come from?  NSW, international schools, independent sector…..)
Relief from Face to Face (as it is called in NSW. Providing relief time for teachers) – Lyn stated this was not a smart use of an information professional, and locks teachers and their classes out of the library at time of need.  Collaboration in what TL teaches during RFF is at least a start. Principals can make or break a library service and the T/L, Lyn said.  Research on this since the 1930s.
Career pathways.  Sharman asked if there were ever TLs who became principals. Lyn gave an example (see info feedback via OZTLnet).
Repositioning TLs in terms of their image as leaders and their career pathways.  How can this be done?  This is the big challenge! (NB:Need to establish promotions position in schools for the information specialist.)
Lastly, Sharman asked about community-school libraries (NB: is in Alan Bundy’s sub, and is sure to be discussed at Adelaide hearing).  Lyn not in favour.  Difficulties when two funding bodies and so dependent on the individuals involved.  Regional students need targeted school library collections.
Again, important questions were asked by committee members who have done their homework and are looking for answers to guide recommendations.
Stay tuned for the next installment :
  • Canberra: Parliament House, Committee Room 1R6
    Thursday 17 June 2010, 9.30am – 11.00am



9 responses

3 06 2010
Sarah Mayor Cox

Thanks for keeping us all in the loop about the Inquiry into School Libraries Georgia, and all the others at the Hub. With all the current fuss going on about the blow-out with the BER schools, I can understand that this vital cultural and economic issue is not getting the coverage it needs, but it breaks my heart that more Australians are not getting behind the issue.

3 06 2010
James Henri

Thanks Georgia and thanks Lyn

I’m wondering if we have become so used to losing that we are now engaged in what is regarded as a low risk strategy associated with an argument for one qualified TL in every school?

Do any of us believe that this would actually solve the current set of challenges?

I urge those who will attend future hearings to fight for a higher risk strategy that may deliver much greater rewards.

I give some examples:

What is the reference to undergraduate pathways seeking to uncover?

I suggest that the actual reason for the demise of the one quality undergraduate pathway had nothing to do with demand or quality it was the product of an amalgamation of two tertiary institutions into The University of Melbourne. It wasn’t just the end of the undergraduate program it signalled the end of all library courses.

The argument against undergraduate credentialling rested on the belief that TLs must have good classroom experience or at least good curriculum experience. It tied to the argument that the school librarian must be a teacher. This argument was mounted in the days when TLs were a new animal and where it was unlikely to be the case that a new TL would have a mentor. It was in pre OZTL_NET TL listserv days.

This argument may need to be shifted.

I believe we should have a team of information workers in all but the very small scools where 1 TL will do it. In other schools what is needed is much more complex. Who manages the networks and the digital connections? Who pushes information policy and knowledge management? Who provides professional learning for staff? Who guides information literacy across the curriculum? Who monitors inquiry learning? Who develops robust information services? Who takes the whole school perspective on literacy? Who manages the discovery interface and the cataloguing? Who shelves and faces the stacks? Who provides information solutions to the corporate school and the leadership that informs whole school decision making? Who manages the netbook program, the IWBs [ed: interactive white boards] and all the other digital technology? Who manages digital and media services such as Clickview? Who manages the intranet such as SharePoint? Who manages the school’s walk into blended learning? Who manges school history and archives? Do I need to go on?

Now the answer to these questions will not be ONE Professional…right?

We need a TEAM. One member of that team ought to be a TL but there must be many more and some of those can certainly go down the UG path. We need Library Technicians, information managers, network and database managers, etc. And with any team we need a leader…That might be the Director of Information Services. That Director position ought to be at least at Faculty Head position but perhaps should be at DP level.

Now let’s consider a school from the ground up to cater for 600 students. How big is that information team? What other leadership positions does the school need? How should learning spaces be designed….do they need to be build on 1 CT for every 25.5 students?

Collaboration is not just a sexy word. There is not one single piece of research that puts the case that isolating teachers in classrooms actually leads to school improvement. Quality comes out of collegiality which harnesses a shared vision and delivers on that shared vision. When teachers do not collaborate student outcomes suffer. The research on this is solid and reflects what Senge has told us for far too long about learning organisations. So it’s really not so much about preservice teacher training hooking on IL…BUT rather what is needed is a vision within those university faculties of Ed that collegiality is the way of the future. Relationships matter and strong well directed relationships deliver better instructional settings. (ABTW ICT is the best thing that ever happened to schools in so far as it is all about enabling shifts in relationships.) And this is where the lack of an undergraduate TL major/minor just isolates the key player who is arguing for collegiality 🙂 New classroom teachers just dont know what a TL is because they don’t exist in their programs! Why shouldn’t someone who wants to teach science also be able to prepare for a career as an info professional?

There is nothing wrong with joint use libraries. But you dont put LPG into a diesel tank do you? AND it is more likely that small communities will have a school long before they have a public library so the quality of that school library should come first. We know that strength flows from the amalgamation of strong units not from the binding of weak ones.

And if schools don’t need an information leadership team why would they need a principal?

I urge those attending the inquiry to broaden the debate from just TLs and Students. There is much more and it needs air time too.

3 06 2010
Maggie Roche

Great idea J! aim for the stars, the other side of that argument is the golden rule of lobbying – to ask for what is achievable. Would it not be good to get a commitment from govt that specialist staff is needed, and then have a think tank to look ahead? In NSW a rough costing of replacing the lost RFF teachers that would enable TLs to be freed from RFF in 2002 was $55 million per year. Salaries have gone up a lot so imagine what that one thing would cost now. States are being asked to recommit to having staff in all schools. Try costing the basic restoration of what has been lost, then cost what you are asking for. What might govts be prepared, and be able, to pay?

4 06 2010
Are you in the “kno?” « Reading Power

[…] 11. 100 Ways to Use VoiceThread 12. Lyn Hay’s contribution to inquiry 13. Roundup of Resources for Literacy and Reading June 2010 14. Mind Maps for […]

4 06 2010
James Henri

Hi Maggie

What I have suggested we do is ask up front for what is needed. It is achievable in terms of the costs whether it is achievable politically is another thing.

I can be sure it is economically achievable because the independent schools can do it. AND governments provide funding to independents to save money 🙂 And independent schools get better student outcomes and that saves governments truck loads of $s from other budgets.
Of course my suggestion is not one-sided. If we looked at staffing the way I suggest we could also save some money since the 1-25.5 ratio for fixed and closed classrooms also goes out the window.

And if we believe our own research then we know that funding information services will do more for literacy than does all the money governments currently pump into the commercials who convince them that their latest you beaut scheme will do it…When the evidence is that FVR is the one thing that does it and it is the cheapest sollution and its all about the library (Krashen).

We need to be radical not conservative. The radical claim gains attention and demands to be shown why it is unacceptable. The conservative demand can be met by any positive response to partially satisy the demand. And my point is that we dont need 7 TLs in a school although some schools have them. What we need is a clever mix of information professionals and most do not need to be teachers. On the library side: one TL and 3 LTs would be fine in many middle sized schools and would be much better than 2 TLs but probably about the same cost.

Some schools would do well to dismiss the P and replace her with 2-3 information professionals.

We have a model of schooling that is broken. That broken model is propped up by a staffing formula that is also broken.

When I suggested to the committee that every small school needs a FT TL long before it needs a FT principal or a FT CT….they saw the logic of the argument and it is an argument that does not cost money… But when they put this argument to a TL who followed me she said she thought it was a bad idea……Well why is that so? Wouldnt a qualified TL be the first person you would want in a small 20 student school???????

And a national approach to the provision of core digital services, e-books, and discovery interfaces would save governments millions or perhaps billions.

Its hard to break away from existing paradigms but that is just what we need to do.

This is our chance. I dont think we get another one in my life time.


4 06 2010
Maggie Roche

Some good points james. I’m aware my approach is conservative, unlike the ideals I would like to see in place for education. I’m coming from primary schools where I’ve seen the thin edge of the wedge, maybe it’s different for high schools. I was thinking it would be good to get a basic platform established / reestablished, and then start going for betterments. This is a fragile time. You’re right whatever goes in the report is going to be it for a while. So is now the time for some serious brainstorming, tapping into the collective wisdom? Adding some submissions? As for a qualified FT TL in a 20 student school – hello !!!! Let’s get them into the larger schools first, and the support staff. Can’t see the equity in that.

6 06 2010
James Henri

Hi Maggie

I wrote a response to you “hello” comment but I lost it. Im pasting my recent OZTL_NET post below as a substitute.

There has been a bit of a debate about this at the Hub (although my most recent post expired from my screen before it got to the Hub) and I take this opportunity to clarify my position.

One of the strong arguments that has been given to the inquiry is the equity argument…in a nutshell all children deserve the same information rich schooling. My position is that this argument only holds water if it has no exceptions. Any exception leads to a counter argument that “well if school A doesnt need a TL and a library well why does school Y need these?” And eventually as we slide down the slippery slope of exception after exception we get to the exact position we are at today.

So lets take the reality that there are an abundance of small schools across Australia. (Im sure that Georgia Phillips could tell us exactly how many 20 pupil schools and how many 100 pupil schools exist.) And maybe there is a case to argue that this proliferation does not make sense…but that is not our case. Consider the newly established school named Thanks for the memories Julia which is 250 kls from the nearest school and has an enrolment of 20-30 pupils depending on weather and other frailties.

How would you staff this school?

Well our argument is that even these 20-30 pupils should get the same opportunities to a rich information environment as do those in 600 pupil schools so we must argue for a TL…right? And that will be a qualified TL…right?

But why would we make this argument when we know that there wont be a teacher out there who would suddenly take up the chance to grab a masters from CSU or ECU and then move to the Julia school to be employed for say 4 hours a week.

Back to the staffing issue… We would argue that the Julia school must have at least one FT teacher…right? And there must be an allowance to someone to act as Principal…to fill out all those forms and meet and greet new parents and fly-in politicians…right? And there must be at least one PT person to take up slack…right?

So tell me which of the three noted teachers:


is qualified to do all three roles?

Yes there is only one answer and that is the TL. So my argument is that because only a TL can do all that the TL ought to be the first employed and would take on the three roles of TL, P, and CT. Other PT staff would be found to supplement that.

Now Sue Johns is that TL. Will what Sue does look like what a TL in a 600 pupil school is doing? Well yes and no. But one thing is for sure when Sue is taking on the role of CT she wont organise her day anything like a CT in that 600 pupil school would. Sue will have to have vertical and horizontal integration and she will have to major on enquiry based learning. Yes she will model best practice and she can do that because she is able to resource learning just as any good TL can do. And guess what: the school wont have closed classrooms it will consist of agile learning spaces.

So how can anyone argue against this model? If you argue that the P can do it all then I ask what TL like skills does she have? If you say the CT can do it all then there goes the equity argument that we are making… And whatever a P adds to Julia I put it to you that a TL adds more.

Now this leads me to rethink the whole question of the undergraduate path that most primary CTs take but out of which TLs are excluded. This ought to change. WE should be arguing that primary TLs ought to have an option of taking TL requisite courses alongside teachers in training as a part of their BEd. In this way those who want to be a CT and not a TL could pick up some of these courses as a minor or as electives and hence address the other issue that we raise that CTs dont know anything about TLs or about IL and that they typically learn about isolation and not collegiality. In an ideal world TLs who came out of this tradtion would gain their first appointment at the feet of an entrenched TL or they would take up a small school appointment.

Of course there are other models too. But all other models cost more that the model Im suggesting which Im guessing would actually save money. And I realize that there are not enough TLs out there…BUT that is the same issue for those who argue for other solutions. Yes there is a crisis and we need to fund a couple of thousand new TLs over a 5 year period to meet the crisis.

Lets continue this debate and sharpen our ideas through it 🙂 J

7 06 2010
Inquiry Hearing now in Canberra – your chance to listen in « SAVING AUSSIE BOOKS


9 06 2010
Maggie Roche

The transcript of Lyn’s hearing is up. F A B U L O U S Lyn !!!

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