Which is more dire? No books or no TL?

31 05 2012


Henley HS has just joined Overdrive and rented some 300 books, not 16000! At an average $16 each, such a collection would cost a quarter of a million.  Would that every principal would spend this on books, e- or otherwise, in a year!

Interview with principal on ABC Adelaide Drive

Henley High School scraps books.  The Australian 30 May 2012 by Natasha Bita.

Well, it is daft, as Mal Lee has said, but not as daft as getting rid of their teacher librarian first! And I have been told that “Henley’s  literacy levels (reading, persuasive writing, spelling and grammar) have not gone through the roof but dropped this year.”

But, let’s look at the books vs laptops issue yet again.  Yes, formats are changing.  And isn’t it a good thing TLs are being trained in addressing all the complex issues of that change.  Trained TLs with a deeper knowledge  of resource selection and provision and use do not throw out entire paper collections.  They know that paper will be around for some time yet, as we move to digital collections.

Trained TLs know how to get those reluctant readers hooked on books – not just on virtual worlds and social media. They know that boys love those shocking books, books about the weird and wonderful, the supersized and superheroes, the biggest, smelliest, fastest, most dangerous….so many great reads not yet in e-form. They know that kids must want to read, and to read a lot, in order to master reading enough to work online without  the hyper-link hop and cut and paste.

If books were so passe, why did students and staff walk off with armloads at Henley?

If “no books” was such a good idea, why are so many books still in the top Anglican and Catholic and independent school libraries, along with e-books and along with a library staff which can reach 10 positions!

These trained TLs can deal with the problems of negotiating licenses, conditions of use, lack of actual ownership and circulation challenges of e-books.  They can determine when the paper version is still the better value.  When the paper version suits the learning styles of their students, or when subscription to a digital reference work is better than a paper version.

They know kids jump to texting and FB the minute they can; that they have difficulty concentrating on any sustained narrative, let alone a digital one.  With Google-cut-and-paste alone, we are in danger of shallow knowledge, knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep.

Teachers and teacher librarians working together can overcome this danger by designing authentic, real-world based, problem solving learning experiences which require critical thinking and do not allow for cut-and-paste.  Learning using all available formats, paper, digital, video, audio, kinesthetic, visual, interactive….

Do the parents of Henley HS and Varsity College (which isn’t throwing out ALL books) realize how disadvantaged their children will be?  Parents at Cambridge HS, NZ, forced the government to reverse the decision to turn their library into a cyber cafe and the principal who made the decision was replaced. Windsor (Canada) Catholic schools reversed their no books/”learning commons” decision. Parents were outraged, as the parents at Henley and Varsity, and all educators and parents, should be.




9 responses

31 05 2012

So when did the digital revolution = getting rid of books, let alone teacher librarians from a library? It saddens me that our ‘educated’ Principals are making such uninformed decisions about the essential roles the tl and library play in a school community. I can’t understand how Principals, Departments of Education, hey even governments, can ignore all of the research out there that shows links between libraries and literacy.

1 06 2012
Toni Leigh

We all need to advocate now before it is too late – Don’t leave it just to Georgia and a few others!

1 06 2012

The truth is so often buried in the ‘detail’, thank you to David who is willing to stick his neck out and dig deeper than the Principal’s e-speak.

3 06 2012
Georgia Phillips

Letter to the Australian:

I think your journo may have been fed a porky by the Henley HS principal (BER Waste, 30 May 2012)

Henley High has just gone live with Overdrive e-books at http://henleyhs.lib.overdrive.com/

They have about 300 books. To say that they have 16,000 is just ludicrous!!

One of the first schools in Australia to have Overdrive has taken some considerable time and money to amass 458 books, at a cost of $8,295. This is a not insubstantial collection in a year, which works out at a cost of around $16 each.

Therefore, this principal claims to have spent around $250,000! Her comments would have allayed a lot of fears on the part of the public about students now having no resources at all. But people need to know the facts. Would that many of us would have a principal who’d spend a quarter of a million dollars on books of any kind!

3 06 2012
Sandra Mason

My experience, as Head Librarian at Christian Brothers College in Adelaide, is that students still really value a traditional book, and they especially enjoy coming to the library. We wrote to the the Australian last week in response to the article, but are yet to see our comments in print. Here is some of what we wrote:

“At Christian Brothers College libraries at both the senior and junior campuses are hugely popular resources for students, staff and parents. As well as a quiet center for study; the library is an exciting place to browse magazines, read non-fiction items including the latest newspapers and magazines and provide a variety of electronic and hard copy teaching and learning resources. Head Librarian Sandra Mason comments “The novels are very popular and don’t require electricity! I believe it is important to embrace the digital technologies available, and there is an amazing array of digital tools that students can use to enhance learning, but there is still a place for the traditional library as well.”

At Christian Brothers College we have two qualified teacher librarians because to quote an Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) submission to parliament last year, “Having access to electronic information can never replace the contributions to learning provided by teacher librarians…”
“There is much research evidence from the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia that students attain higher levels of achievement when they have access to an adequately resourced school library staffed by a qualified teacher librarian (ALIA submission 332, pp. 35-37).

Principal Noel Mifsud comments: At Christian Brothers College we value our library not simply as a repository of resources, but as a center to inspire high quality teaching and learning. We purposely featured the interactive library as the center piece of the new Junior Campus because of the importance of libraries in providing high quality 21st Century education. End here.”

3 06 2012

Excellent response! Please do send it to principal Schneyder at http://www.henleyhs.sa.edu.au/contacts
and to Matthew and Dave, ABC Adelaide Drive http://bit.ly/LePHRq
Get in touch with Natasha Bita directly. Email me at gphillip@bigpond.net.au for her address.

3 06 2012
Georgia Phillips

Posted at ABC Adelaide DRive http://bit.ly/LePHRq

1. No teacher librarian since end of 2010 and years 8-9 not allowed in. How much money was being put in to keeping the collection up-to-date, paper and digital?
2. Unlikely to have acquired a quarter million dollars worth of e-books in a year. They cost an average of $16. Henley HS has only 300 e-books on Overdrive. 16000 Project Gutenberg old classics? Boy, good thing the students got to carry home armloads of those new books!
3. No evidence kids can follow a sustained narrative on a screen. “Gen Y” student finds reading off a screen tiring, jumps around the hyper-links, uses social media.
4. Has no professional TL selecting resources, teaching critical thinking, building a targeted collection, attracting reluctant readers to graphic novels, books of records, dangerous animal books, sharing the funny, shocking, weird and wonderful, coordinating a school-wide literacy program. Does this principal know about the research linking trained TLs to improved literacy and academic achievement?
5. Henley’s literacy levels (reading, persuasive writing, spelling and grammar) have not gone through the roof but dropped this year
6. Who selects the databases and teaches students and staff how to use them? Google hits less than 1 and 400 of the deep web.
7. Little non-fiction available as e-books as yet, and quality narrative non-fiction not on websites.
8. Ask why Scotch College and Brisbane Grammar don’t do likewise? And why they have 8 or 10 on their library staff?
9. As a fairly low academically-oriented school (350 doing VET) how do poor readers do? How many have books in the home? How many value reading p or e books? What improves reading (and spelling and punctuation and grammar and writing and vocab? Books, books and more books (Stephen Krashen)
10. Where is the evidence base and who is conducting the audit? They threw out a library worth, what? a quarter million or more? Charging students $65 for textbooks and $69 for library resources. Hope the SA DEC requires proof of value for money in terms of learning outcomes! Is anyone asking them?
11. The NZ principal who did something similar was moved on and parent outrage saw the library rebuilt and restocked. Where is the parent outrage???

11 06 2012

From Patricia Bernard, author 3 June
I have just read that there are two collegtes, Adelaide and Qld who are ‘doing away’ with their book library. This is so sad. As an Australian author of 44 books, and a visitor to primary, high, tafe schools as a creative writing author/ teacher, I find this phasing out of books so detremental to the students. Let digital and books live in tandam. Why throw away books. Not every child, teenager, adult wants to read on kindle.
I, and the childrens/teenage writers network of Sydney, were also upset to read how many schools do not have librarians. Without an imaginative, creative, helpful librarian to point, aim, cajole, assist and enthuse many children will miss out on so much. The librarian of a school is the heart of a school. I know, I visit about 60 or more schools a year and the librarians are wonderful. I am about to go to Paris, France to visit schools there. These schools normally have no libraries, yet bookshops flourish in Paris.

21 07 2012

Patricia, please have your network lobby the NSW state govt and local MPs to retain teacher librarians or we will lose them in NSW under local empowerment (Local Schools, Local Decisions) as they have in the other states. URGENT!

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