BER libraries not value for money without qualified TEACHER librarians

19 10 2010

Media Release from The Hub

20 October 2010 (Please forward to your local, regional newspapers, if you are in Victoria)

246 new government school primary libraries are being built with BER funding in Victoria. Most cost $2,000,000 or more. This infrastructure is long overdue, but without qualified staff, these schools will not be getting value for money, according to Georgia Phillips, co-founder of The Hub: Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia.

Says Mrs. Phillips, “Recent research has shown that only 13% of Victorian primary schools are staffed with qualified teacher librarians. This is a decline from 55% in 1983. Many schools employ library technicians and librarians (not certified as teachers) to run school libraries. 12% of these are managed by someone with no formal qualifications of any kind, including volunteer parents.”

“In NSW we haven’t seen volunteers running school libraries since before the 1970 Commonwealth grants,” says Phillips. “In NSW all schools are officially staffed with teachers who are also trained as librarians.”

“Since the early 1990s there has been no government requirement in Victoria regarding school library staffing. With declining budgets, schools are often forced to go for cheaper options, even when they know that teacher librarians make a difference to student learning.”

Award winning children’s author, Phil Kettle, knows teacher librarians make a difference.  Yet in his travels to schools, he too has seen their numbers diminish. “Teacher librarians are essential in ensuring children are provided with diverse reading opportunities. They encourage the wide reading which increases literacy levels.”

Nathan Godfrey, of Softlink International, a leading developer of library systems, confirms this. Softlink has undertaken a study of NAPLAN results and school library resourcing and found a strong relationship between the two. These findings were included in the Softlink submission to the recent federal Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools.  Mr Godfrey said “These results are of interest to the whole education community.  There was a significant positive correlation between a school’s library budget and NAPLAN Reading Literacy scores. Importantly, there was also a significant positive correlation between the number of school librarians employed in the school and literacy scores.  As a result of this research, Softlink’s own product development is focused on using the school library system to provide additional guidance to teachers on student literacy levels.”

The Federal Inquiry took evidence of over 60 studies internationally confirming this. Dual qualified teacher librarians make a difference to student literacy and learning. Reading scores rise. Students read more.  Their writing and spelling and vocabulary improve. Academic results improve regardless of socio-economic considerations.

“Yet, the Victorian government seems unaware of the research.  They refused to appear at the hearings,” says Mrs. Phillips. “While we still await the federal inquiry report, interrupted by the election, the Victorian government must take the initiative. If they truly care about literacy and student achievement, they must require and support the staffing of their school libraries with qualified teacher librarians.”

Contact: Georgia Phillips, The Hub, 0419423570,

Contact: Phil Kettle   0417663396

Contact: Nathan Godfrey, Softlink Chief Operating Officer  07 3124 6111




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