What do we want in a national professional association?

19 08 2012

We have never needed a strong, unified national professional association more than the present:  One which continues to follow up on the federal inquiry and to focus on advocacy for our shrinking profession. One which builds cooperation and unity with state and territory associations and alliances with other educators and parents.

A strong, unified national body could and should take leadership in following up the recommendations of the Federal Government Inquiry. It should campaign for national guidelines, lobby for “School Library Month,” facilitate a national dialogue …It must have a dedicated advocacy committee.

A strong, unified national body would ensure that its magazine contains articles about its meetings with ministers of education, DEWEER and tertiary TL trainers and about the profession globally.

A strong, unified national body would provide professional learning opportunities for principals and teachers, as well as TLs.

A strong, unified national body would use frequently up-dated social networking tools and up-to-date wikis to keep all members informed.

A strong, unified national body could develop advocacy tools for individuals and for state association campaigns, such as videoclips and e-brochures.  Short videos could be created through a sponsored student competition such as the US Why I Love My Library competition.  Brochures for targeted audiences could be commissioned. Guidance for parents could go beyond a wiki checklist. Assistance to principals in developing strong library services could be published. A strong, unified national body should be able to commission all of these efforts.

A strong, unified national body would form a coalition with publishers, authors, and parents to publicize the unique and vital role of professional teacher librarians in schools.

A strong, unified national body would use National Year of Reading to promote the role of TLs in reading development.

It would respond to the Gonski Report, lobbying for increased funding for public schools which are stretched to staff specialist teachers like teacher librarians

It would encourage all TLs to work with their teachers unions, using the recent AEU statement on the value of teacher librarians.

It would have a strong, articulate spokesperson, trained, along with all Board members, in working with the media. It would have a media coordinator whose sole job is to ensure TL success stories get press and broadcast time, speaking out on the detrimental effects of school autonomy and other relevant issues.

It would have vision, focus and leadership, and, most importantly, will. And its agenda and decision-making would be transparent. Public dialogue would be encouraged about objectives and agendas, with no single voice dominating.

ASLA could provide these needs. It certainly proclaims such aims. So could the Schools group in ALIA. It has the larger professional body for support. In the US, the professional librarians’ association, the ALA, is campaigning strongly for school libraries.  We could become a strong voice through ALIA. Or we could form a new association entirely. One thing we MUST do is discuss what we want to see of our professional associations (please leave comments here as this topic is seemingly blocked on OZTL) and then we must make it happen.




4 responses

20 08 2012
Anne Weaver

Georgia, thanks for the information about the schools group in ALIA. Anne

20 08 2012

In the states, the AASL is organized within the structure of ALA. Gives them much needed resources and extra clout, I think.

20 08 2012
Catherine Hainstock

Thanks for this article Georgia, focus and clarity on this situation is most welcome. I believe you have hit the nail on the head, we are at a critical time and need to concentrate our collective energy on raising awareness of our role/value and advocating for TLs in schools. Coming from Vic, I have no personal experience with ASLA but have been most impressed with ALIA’s work with VIT and the AITSL.Ensuring there is proper recognition for our dual role and unique position in the areas of standards/practice and performance reviews I see as a crucial function of our professional association.

21 08 2012
David Linke

This post is reposted here from OZTL list with the permission of the author, David Linke.

From: Answers | EdAlliance
To: oztl_net@oztlnet.com
Sent: Tuesday, 21 August 2012 10:33 AM
Subject: [OZTL_NET] FW: What do we want in a national professional association?

Georgia –

You are very brave for coming out and asking these vital questions. I’m guessing that your inbox might have a few angry responses in it this morning, and I truly hope some encouraging ones also.

Asking questions in public of your national association is essential to good organisational development. I suspect that many are asking these very same questions of themselves or amongst their teams during the past few days.

The contentions you make are important debate points. These are the things that a national organisation needs to do to actually lead. ASLA might very well be doing these things or the things it feels the most important or what can be achieved within the funding it has.

I suspect the most controversial contention in your writing is the idea that ASLA might be (or should be) replaced by ALIA. The reality is that no one person or organisation actually makes that choice. It’s the members and their responses that actually make the choice. Members respond to the work of the organisation or don’t respond through perceived irrelevance.

So yes, right now the School Library Profession – including Heads of Library, Library Technicians, Library Officers and Teacher Librarians – does need a national association more than ever, but only if that association does the things it’s members want it to do. I can’t imagine there are many
people that want to see ASLA fragment, or see a public fight between SLAQ and ASLA or any other entity.

I suspect that most people want to see a clear, professional, transparent and conciliatory response from all sides of the fence. Then an agreement on a way forward that actually clearly defines the objectives of state bodes, national bodies and the members of all.

David Linke

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