A message from the heart

12 06 2011

From South Australian, Erica Jolley, to her network of academics:

I’m passing it (see message below) on to as many as are interested in seeing Australia not following the American way. In South Australia, all students are to have ‘portals’, not into their minds and hearts, into electricity and power grids, subject to breakdown – that’s the Budget leaflet from the Minister for DECS – We know we must stay connected to the technology which is driving the way the world operates but we narrow the options, we decrease avenues for learning when we focus so solidly on one avenue for the gathering of information. It is not even real learning.

Real learning is when heart and mind take in wonder, feel, touch, taste, smell, and begin to differentiate this from that in the world away from the screen and fingers on a keyboard. I listened to what is happening with Centra on the School of the Air. So many breakdowns in communication. So much frustration for children.

Libraries, in school, and in the communities, are the ‘safety net’. With so many more students of a multi-cultural background in our public schools, the roles of libraries as ‘safety nets’, and the role of teacher librarians as assistants to the wider range of avenues for students, teachers and members of the community – parents – is vital.

We need the Federal government to support the re-establishment of courses for Teacher librarians and to protect the libraries that still exist. Once the books, non-fiction books in the case of one school, and other media materials are dispersed, if they are documented and available in a subject area – if that has happened – their role in the interconnection of avenues of discovery and learning is lost. Sound education, not just the schooling of the young through mechanical ‘portals’, broadens the horizons, helps students to think through and concentrate on complex ideas as their capacity to learn, feel and understand develops.

Equity in education will demand that we fight for a broader vision, not just force students into a different kind of sausage factory. Please, everyone, make an effort to help the Federal government to see what is the ultimate cost if libraries and teacher librarians are allowed to be lost because Principals, through the Local Empowerment Policy, can decide they are ‘redundant’ in a ‘hi-tech’ world. We need action from the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, and from the Minister for Tertiary Education, Chis Evans, as well as action in the States and Territories.

Have a look at the item Ian Purcell sent me please. See what has been happening in USA. We have a tendency in this country to wonder where something went and valuing it when it is irretrievable. The report re School Libraries and Teacher Librarians did not push for action now. We do not need more reports. We need to protect the school libraries still in existence and bring in teacher librarians where they have been lost. And training takes time.

Thank you,  Erica Jolley,

Education/Health liaison, Australian Federation of Graduate Women-SA

On 10/06/2011, at 5:09 PM, Ian Purcell wrote: Erica, I thought you might be interested this article on Libraries as Safety Nets http://www.care2.com/causes/education/blog/libraries-are-part-of-the-safety-net-no-wonder-governments-hate-them/


From Georgia Phillips, 25 May 2011

On Monday and Tuesday, politicians from both sides of the House spoke in support of the School Library Inquiry Report in Parliament. Wonderful speeches, full of understanding and support….and all because of you who signed the petition and made submissions and appeared as witnesses!!

You can find the speech by Amanda Rishworth, Labor SA (current education cttee chair), who tabled the Report, and Deputy Chair Ramsay, Liberal, SA, in  Monday’s Hansard pages 11-13.  They were alloted 10 minutes. See <http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr230511.pdf>

They then referred the Report for further debate in the Main Committee.  Yesterday, 24th May,  more time was able to be alloted, and many of the original education committee members as well as current members  spoke eloquently of the plight of teacher librarians and the need for the recommendations. Here are some excerpts.

Karen Andrews, Liberal, Qld: “At a local level, I have seen the wonderful work done by teacher librarians as they work directly with students. I support their ongoing roles at school as they work directly with students. I support their ongoing roles at school and I will continue to support the schools in McPherson and especially the teachers, principals, headmasters, heads of school, students and teacher librarians.”

Alan Tudge, Liberal, Vic:”The library itself may have changed in terms of its focus and the technology and skills required; nevertheless it still has a very important place in Australia’s schools. Hopefully the recommendations arising from this inquiry will further enhance the importance of school libraries in Australia’s school systems.”

Sharon Bird, Labour, NSW: “I commend the chair, Amanda  Rishworth, the member for Kingston, for the work that has been done and all members of the committee in following up and  producing this final report. I do so in particular because the issue was originally brought to my attention as a result  of an online petition that had been running amongst teacher librarians. They were particularly concerned about the fact that in the digital age, for some reason—I think we gathered a lot of evidence that is reflected in this report about why this was happening—people were coming to the view that teacher librarians were not necessary in schools, where in fact quite the opposite could well be argued to be true.

With the depth, complexity and breadth of information available to young people today, they need an experienced navigator more than ever to assist them in assessing the source, the legitimacy and the value of information that they are accessing, in particular, online. It was something that, particularly  as a former teacher, caught my attention.”  READ HER ENTIRE SPEECH pages 105-106!!  Sharon Bird, as a former history teacher, DOES understand the issues and the need for qualified TLs.

Deborah O’Neill, Labor, NSW: “I come to this assessment of the inquiry and its report from the point of view of being a teacher myself. I have never been a librarian and I have always held  them in great esteem. The access that teacher-librarians have provided for my own children in the primary context has been a transformational learning experience…I recall, very fondly, a teacher-librarian who worked at my school during my secondary schooling….Without a framework that articulates the importance and the centrality of our teacher librarians and the work that they do, they become extremely vulnerable…There can be no possible way that it would ever be okay, not only for the students but for the teacher themselves, to put a poor teacher [into the library]…, regardless of whether they are delivering a curriculum or delivering critical digital literacy, critical thinking and critical  support for students in a teacher-librarian context inside a library. This goes to the heart of the professionalism that is required. The professionalism of the teacher librarians that I, along with my colleagues on the committee, took evidence from was absolutely outstanding. They deeply understand what a teacher librarian can bring to learning and to life outcomes for young people.”

Mike Symon, Labor, Vic: “We found that private sector schools overall greatly valued teacher librarians and used teacher librarians as a selling point to attract parents to their schools. It was a fairly simple argument that they put to us, and it came from many sources: having teacher librarians in our schools improves our results….Whereas some state systems were inclined to use teacher librarians as relief staff if a teacher was sick or could not attend class for some reason, that certainly was not the case in the evidence that we heard from the private schools. As a better qualified person than a ‘standard’ qualified teacher, if that is the right description, the teacher librarian has knowledge above and beyond, and to be put into a position where you can be called away from your job at any time to go and mind a class because someone is not available really undervalues the profession.” He included ALIA’s definition of a TL with an emphasis on information literacy.

“It was very interesting to hear that in many cases the role of a teacher librarian directly suited the role of a digital gatekeeper for information. I must say, I had not thought of that at the start of the inquiry, but by the end of the inquiry I was quite convinced that this is a new and expanded role for teacher librarians. It probably builds the case more than ever for having teacher librarians in greater numbers in as many schools as possible.”

Yvette D’Ath, Labor, Qld: “. I note the comment of the chair in the foreword of the report: The Committee was advised that Charles Sturt University’s second semester intake of students into its Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) had doubled in 2010, and, it was suggested that the publicity surrounding this inquiry may have been a factor in the increased numbers being attracted to the teacher librarian profession. If that is what this inquiry did, if it does nothing else, that is a fantastic result.”

“Recommendation 3 is: The Committee recommends that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority include statistical information about the breakdown of all specialist teachers, including teacher librarians, on the My School website.

This recommendation was made because it became clear that we do not know what specialist teachers we have in our schools. We found out in Queensland that you may have done a masters in teacher librarianship, you may be a specialist in this area, but when you register in Queensland as a teacher there is not even a category to identify yourself as a specialist in this area. That needs to be rectified. It also showed once again that we do not have consistency across the states. If we want consistent outcomes then we have to have consistency across the states on … I look forward to forwarding copies of this report out to those teacher librarians in the schools so that they can see what their effort to bring information to us has resulted in with these recommendations.”

See <http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr240511.pdf> Pages 103-110

I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Symon when he states, “I certainly recommend that report for reading by the wider public and especially the education sector.” It can be found at <http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_representatives_Committees?url=ee/schoollibraries/report.htm>

Congratulations all! Now its time to get our message to parents and other politicians!!

Georgia Phillips


A thank you to Committee of Inquiry MPs

18 08 2010
To the House committee members of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians:
Ms Sharon Bird MP (Chair) (Australian Labor Party, Cunningham, NSW)

Dr Dennis Jensen MP (Deputy Chair) (Liberal Party of Australia, Tangney, WA)

Ms Julie Collins MP (Australian Labor Party, Franklin, TAS)

Mrs Yvette D’Ath MP (Australian Labor Party, Petrie, QLD)

Mr Steve Irons MP (Liberal Party of Australia, Swan, WA)

Mr Robert Oakeshott MP (Independent, Lyne, NSW)

Mr Sid Sidebottom MP (Australian Labor Party, Braddon, TAS)

The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP (Liberal Party of Australia, Murray VIC)

Mr Mike Symon MP (Australian Labor Party, Deakin, VIC)

Mr Tony Zappia MP (Australian Labor Party, Makin, SA)

Somehow you have found the energy and the will to read the hundreds of submissions, travel to every state and territory, ask the hard questions and critically analyze the information and begin to form understanding and judgements.  In three short months you have seen into the heart of a decline in our profession which has taken decades.  You have looked for truth and for facts and for answers. We thank you for your commitment to education and learning.

We look forward to your report.  But even with no report, we thank you.

The media knows about TEACHER librarians, now! (See the long list of articles in the right hand column!) More principals are starting to look at the research. Parents are asking why their school doesn’t have a TL.  Universities are looking at how to extend their programs. And politicians are starting to understand what can be done at all levels to improve student literacy and learning through libraries. We have a long way to go, but it is a start.

We wish you every success in your campaign and sincerely hope that the committee will be able to finish its valuable and extensive work. And that JULIA GILLARD who requested the inquiry will be there to act upon its recommendations.

Thank you again on behalf of The Hub and Australian teacher librarians and students.

Write a Letter to Your Editor Today

8 08 2010

A Template Letter to Your Local Newspaper:

Australia has lost over one third of its qualified teacher librarians under the policy of empowering local schools. Once a world leader in school libraries, we are about to lose our standing and our profession. How will Julia stop the decline and still extend the Empowering Local Schools policy she announced last week? The answers can be found in an inquiry she requested as Education Minister.

The report from the four-month long House Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians, interrupted by the election, awaits completion. After 382 submissions and twelve hearings in all states and territories, the cross party House Committee on Education and Training chaired by Sharon Bird, MP, has come to grips with the complex issue of declining numbers of qualified teacher librarians in our state schools.

The loss of tertiary training programs, inadequate staffing budgets, lack of national standards, ignorance of international research linking well-staffed and well-supported school libraries with student literacy and learning and the loss of state school advisory services and their corporate knowledge are just some of the causes which state and federal governments must address. Ask what your candidates will do to facilitate this report. Every Australian student deserves a quality school library with a qualified teacher librarian.

(Include your name, address and contact phone number.)

My letter published in Illawarra Mercury 11 Aug 2010.

Perth Hearing notes

16 07 2010

13 July 2010 These are personal notes. The transcript is now available.

Inquiry House Cttee members present: Sharon Bird, Dr. Dennis Jensen, Steve Irons

Session One
Witnesses: WASLA – Val Baird; Edith Cowan University – Barbara Combes; Ms. Anette Ainsworth

Anette explained in her opening statement how she had moved from the public to the private sector in order to continue working as a TL. She is concerned about the huge inequities in the sectors. Library services have decreased yet the need for these services has increased with increase of technology. The shortage of TLs and teachers training to be TLs is due to lack of incentive – no jobs at end – and now there are not enough TLs to fill advertised positions. TLs are usually part of middle management in the independent schools.

Databases are expensive and, even with consortia, most state schools have limited budgets. These students don’t have access as do their counterparts in private education. Some state schools are operating with a budget of $1000!
In short: State schools don’t’ have adequate staff, resources and funding.

There followed a discussion of Gen Y’s real lack of search and critical thinking skills (BC’s research). Need to be taught along with ethical use and copyright from primary level. Searching databases different from search engines. Need for skills in creating new meaning from information Teachers need the expertise of TLs.
Anette gave example of own school’s results of test of beginning students at their secondary school. Came from a variety of feeder schools- state and independent. Tested a number of facets. Most didn’t achieve above 35% for Inquiry Process. Those that did usually came from a school with a TL in the library. [GP: Anything published on this???]
Barbara: ECU is introducing a compulsory unit for all undergrads: Communications in an IT environment, to address skills gap in new students. Part of unit will cover ‘How to search for information’.
Again, Sharon Bird asks why the independent sector make their excellent libraries a selling point, while govt school principals try to eliminate TLs. [GP Where does such ignorance come from? Self-delusion? Direction from above? Some outside influence? This IS a question which requires answering.]

Anette: Librarians and library officers do not know the curriculum. WATLNET listserv has become in practice a forum for library officers seeking help. [GP: I’ve wondered this about OZTLnet also.]

Dr Dennis Jensen (DJ): Believes ‘flexibility’ (of staffing) is code for “TLs no longer required.’” Addressed question to Barbara regarding the inequities in TL course structures:
Edith Cowan University
Master of Education 8 units – 120 points – 2 semesters
Master of Information Services (Teacher Librarianship) 11 units – 3 semesters full time

Charles Sturt University
Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) 8 units – 2 semesters full time
Queensland University of Technology
Master of Learning Innovation (Teacher Librarianship) 8 units – 2 semesters full time
This is a disincentive to study TL’ship at ECU. Any discussion on this?

Barbara: Accepted differences. Course is research based – loathe to dumb it down. Some arguing to and fro ensued. [GP: Do we have published research as a result?]

SB: Problem that message in Grad Dip qual is a devaluing of TL’ship. Doesn’t drive reform in Teacher Ed courses. ECU cutting their nose to spite their face. Students will go elsewhere.

Barbara: Been trying to open conversation with Teacher Ed at ECU for years.

DJ: Vilification of Google can be counter-productive. Google scholar is good. Cost of databases?

Anette: 25% of her budget goes to databases. World Book alone is $1500. It has various levels of reading access. Cost of most databases on basis of ratio per head of student population. ERA or WA based consortia can get them a little cheaper.

Session 2
Children’s Book Council of Australia (WA Branch) – Jan Nichols and Lefki Kailis / writingWA – Alison Sutherland, Director of WA State Library

Lefki Kailis: Reading for pleasure encourages literacy and contributes to the mind and imagination. Impact it makes on learning and critical thinking is underestimated.

Alison: Described State Library Better Beginnings program which has been going for 3 years. By product – encouraging literacy skills in parents.

SB: Why do you think ed depts have not made the connection between research and testing results and school libraries?

Lefki: Principal is the key factor. If principals don’t see library and TL as crucial and speak in those terms to staff, then the library is marginalised. Key about TL training: it is holistic, across the curriculum, transferable skills. Literature component prepares TLs to address particular students and particular needs. TL focusses on both development of student and skills.

DJ: New teachers don’t now what TLs do or can offer. Would you comment on necessity of increasing the profile of the TL within the community? TL’ship a dying profession – a lot to do with Depts but there is an element in which the TL profession needs to take responsibility. What have their professional bodies done to promote the profession? Why are TL Uni courses not attracting students?

Lefki: WASLA – Does PD (Professional Devt) but failing in PR. With coming of technology, TLs were at the cusp. Because the embrace of technology has been so whole-hearted, technocrats are now replacing TLs. TL must have both skills – literature and technology.

Collaboration between public and school libraries discussed. Steve Irons asked about programs in schools that involve parents in reading which were then discussed.

Session Three
Western Australian Local Government Association – Michelle Poepjes

Michelle: Spoke very quickly but the gist was that she was not supporting school libraries as such but rather combined-use community libraries. 232 public libraries with wide variety of resources and services including online tutoring. Thought BER funding that has gone into school libraries would have been better spent in building stronger partnerships between public libraries and schools.

SB: Situation in WA re shared libraries? Issues? Location of shared libraries is often an issue. Time lost from teaching if not on school grounds so teachers opt not to take students to library. TLs employed under Teachers’ Award; librarians under Local Government Award.

Michelle: Yes, this can cause friction and has. Positive outcomes are personality based.

Discussion of staff qualifications, problems with the Better Beginnings program, ECU research on same, the need for public librarians to assist the public in navigating the websites, including government ones, and the potential value of nationally purchased databases.

Session Four
Catholic Primary Principals’ Association (W.A.) – David Barns and Tim Emery

David: We represent 130 principals across the State in schools ranging from 10 students to 700. Conducted a survey on TLs and 72 principals responded. General consensus that:
• For the future, TLs very important but flexibility in staffing should remain
• Role of TL needs to evolve
• There are limited training opportunities
• Support from govt is necessary
• BER highlighted lack of appropriate staff in primary school libraries.

Sharon asked why only independent school principals seemed to value TLs. Replies included fact that TL role includes DOTT (RFF) so role constrained, lack of supply.

Tim stated that teachers can teach IL and research skills.
SB replied “I don’t believe that!” When asked what he knows about the research, David replied he was unaware of it.

A discussion followed of difficulties of staffing country schools, TLs’ wish for part-time, lack of scholarships from CEO (as in Brisbane) to train TLs. Unable to give figures on number of qualified TLs in Catholic schools, no requirement to staff a TL, no role description, teacher lack of understanding, existence of ASLA standards.

SB stated that systems have lost leadership.

Session Five
Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia Libraries Inc. – Penny Worthington and Robin Wake

The uniqueness of the TL role was discussed, cross-curricular and flexible – great potential. Most teachers let kids cut and paste. No time or knowledge of teaching guided inquiry and critical questioning. Teachers who collaborate develop innovative programs. Benefits of prac students being brought to the library.

Penny and Robyn spoke about their own experience with supportive principals and networks and lack of support in DETs. SB said it was sad when any system relies on volunteers for its quality.

AISWAL was unable to get details about qualified staffing in their canvassing of schools. Both TLs had Head of Dept status, one had a role statement.

WA Department of Education – Andrew Thompson (Acting Director of School Support Programs). Accompanied by Sue Lapham (Director of Services, Dept of Training and Workforce Development) and Jean Anning (Acting Coordinator, CMIS, WestOne Services, Dept of Training and Workforce Development

Generally an unsatisfactory session in that no stats were provided on qualifications of the 70 TLs said to be employed, no awareness of research just reiteration of the principal’s right to flexible staffing. Principals dependent on online curriculum support and resource information bank in their decision-making. Nothing to contribute regarding the TL’s role in literacy programs. Stated IL embedded in WA Curriculum Framework, with some measurement of outcomes in Years 11 and 12 through WACE courses. No evidence of continuum of skills being taught. SB reiterated that students are entering uni without the necessary information skills.

DJ Your Dept expresses support for TLs but it doesn’t seem to be real. 1 TL for every 10 schools would indicate the Dept doesn’t believe in TLs.

AT refuted this. Decisions are being made by principals but there are supply and demand issues. He didn’t know if there was a role statement or if TLs could register through WACOT.

DJ stated that these decisions are being made without adequate knowledge of research and role and without any strategies from DET to promote the use of TLs in schools.

AT That is possible. Anything to increase awareness would be a good thing.

There was a to and fro between SB and AT about funding and advice for literacy and numeracy and implementation of programs within individual schools.
AT argued that principals do this…
SB rejoindered that a principal doesn’t have time to implement programs. Further discussion of who teaches information literacy and how it is not assessed.

Questions were left with DET to forward responses as time ran out.

Adelaide Hearing impressions Pt 2

15 07 2010

Session 3 of the Adelaide Hearing on 12 July (Transcript now available)
Witnesses: Dr Josephine HANISCH, Program Director, Researcher, University of South Australia
Education Services Australia (former Curriculum Corporation and Education.au) – Stacey HATTENSEN, , Senior Manager, Publications and Library Services, and Prue MITCHELL, Senior Education Officer
Julie WELLS, President, Children’s Book Council of Australia, South Australia Branch

Following opening statements, SB asked ESA if their services can be used by non-TLs. The reply indicated that untrained staff relied greatly on the help desk. (83% of Australia’s schools subscribe to SCIS.) The discussion ensued generally exploring the value a teacher librarian brings to the school and to learners. Dr. Hanisch spoke of the need for a chair in teacher librarianship to lift the profile, for research to inform public debate.

SB asked about the possibilities of working with the education faculty as QUT was keen to do. Jo supported working with Uni of SA ed school to look at double degree or other scenarios. SB tried to focus on pre-service teacher ed “Part of the issue which has been raised with this in terms of demand driving positions is that if you have a teaching body in a school who do not know how to utilise the library or the teacher librarian—which is scarily more common than we might like to think—that then breeds the school executives who do not value the library and the teacher librarian and over time we have seen that decrease. When I did my teaching qualification I do not remember doing anything about the library and the teacher librarian. That was a long time ago. I thought it may have changed; apparently it has not.”(p. 30)

Jo stated it would be more difficult at Uni of SA where ed faculties and teacher librarianship were separate schools. Sharon suggested that it might be timely to get more integrated.

Tony asked the witnesses about the lack of understanding of the TL role in education depts as well as DETs. General agreement.

Session 4
Friends of Libraries Australia, Dr Alan BUNDY, President;
Public Libraries South Australia: Judith CAMERON, Executive Committee Member, and Ms Bernie McSWAIN , Vice-President

Alan had only about 10 minutes as they were running behind. (He suspected, however, the chair has heard enough already to be able to identify the issues and at least some of the solutions.) He picked up on a previous comment from the Chair on the relationship between reading and gaming and offered to send a conference paper on the topic only recently raised in Australia. The Chair requested a copy.

Alan stated in his opening remarks that “At the moment—and this is the contention of FOLA—the states and the territories have not been held to account for a significant neglect of both the role of teacher librarians in school libraries and also the proper funding of the public library system, too much of which has been left to local government.” (p.35)

A discussion of a national consortium for bulk purchasing of data base subscriptions for schools, especially primary which don’t tend to be available in public libraries. One third of public library users are children and young adults and friends of libraries groups are good contacts for school libraries and P&Cs/P&Fs.

Alan commented on his recent trip to Spain where they had no TLs. He has recommended that they begin to develop the profession if they intend to have the joint use libraries they are looking at.

Sharon: “It is one of the ironies highlighted by many submissions that other countries are starting to look to our model and copy it and see its value at the same time that we might, sadly, be running it down. It is a timely message to end today’s session on, Alan.”

Do we need federal standards?!! Do we ever!: The Brisbane Hearing

6 07 2010

Brisbane Hearing 6 July 2010 for the Australian House of Representatives Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians
Parliament House, Brisbane

The following are draft notes which should be checked against the transcript when it is released.
Committee members in attendance included: Sharon Bird, Dr. Dennis Jensen, Mike Symon and Yvette D’Ath (Qld MP).

A repeated question from the committee was “Do we need Federal standards?”
The answer needs to be a resounding YES! Principals need a reference in this age of devolved staffing. They need a standards reference, with the same standards for primary and secondary, though different emphasis. They need a role statement reference. And they need a research clearinghouse for reference.

Qld DET “Workforce Futures” witness, Gary Francis, needs this research also. He is currently collecting data/evidence for departmental decision-making. Gary Francis will be “interrogating the evidence” of this inquiry. He needs to know why all teachers can not be expert “knowledge workers” and teachers of IL and selectors of quality literacy resources; why quality teachers need the support of the TL knowledge navigator and literacy and IL expert.

As Dr. Jensen stated, there almost seems to be a policy in state DETs to run down the role of the teacher librarian. SLAQ admitted that TLs could be part of the problem in not promoting their role, although with some 430 members they have an excellent opportunity to promote the TL role through their association. Marj Kirkland, CBCA President, stated that some regional directors are openly speaking out against having teacher librarians!

And today’s hearing brought out the need for the Australian evidence: support for research linking quality school libraries and reading and academic achievement.

The equity issue between states and sectors again emerged. Too many students have NO access to quality school libraries and qualified teacher librarians, especially in remote regions. The private schools on the Gold Coast all have teacher librarians, while only 50% of government schools do.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission, represented by Adrian Miller and Terry Creagh, laid Catholic school facts on the table in a matter-of-fact way, outlining staffing levels and shortfalls and being quite open about problems with staffing geographically isolated and small schools. Yet 85% of the 288 Catholic schools in Qld are staffed by a qualified Teacher-Librarian, though only 15% of these are FTE.

The Brisbane Catholic Education’s scholarship scheme to attract more teacher-librarians is an initiative bringing younger TLs into the profession and fill staffing gaps. During the past two years, dozens of Catholic teachers have trained as TLs under this scheme. Jane Connolly, Professional Officer Executive Support and Mary Tsourounakis spoke for BCEO.

QUT is benefiting from this program, with TL program numbers almost doubling since 2007-8 to 110 in the course this year. Perhaps the DER and BER programs are also having an effect. Qld DET also had a sponsorship program at one time for half the TL Masters course.

SB: There is a problem with not having anyone to supervise pracs! “Hopefully we can do something about that.” QUT agreed that special programs were needed to catch up with training, with the Commonwealth supporting places at universities and employers recognizing the need for dual qualifications, and support with subsidies and leave.

The witnesses for Queensland University of Technology were Mandy Lupton, Unit Coordinator/Lecturer, Master of Education (Teacher-Librarianship) and Dr Hilary Hughes, Coordinator, Master of Education (Teacher-Librarianship).

Brisbane Catholic Education tabled a TL role statement, for which it was commended by Dr. Jensen, while Qld DET could only refer to a description of physical duties of TLs in relation to OH&S and work cover! Sharon Bird asked how many principals would know of the Learning for the Future standards and Standards of TL Excellence? Great laughter from the gallery!! [GP note: Why can’t every state professional association send at least the latter to every school via systemic school leaders email networks? Or through Principals Associations?]

SB asked why the Catholic system has taken such a positive stand in sponsoring TL training.

The reply from Jane Connolly was that TLs are REQUIRED for the best possible outcomes for students! They are needed for curriculum leadership, IT skills, and literacy skills.

SB asked about TLs having a leadership role although rarely part of executive.

Kate Seed from QTU said they are not classed in Qld DET as head of a service, but as teachers. Teachers of literacy and numeracy are recommended to be part of the executive, so the same could certainly be done for TLs.

Central and regional school library advisors were disbanded around 1990. No support service is left although E-Learning is running an online Digital Pedagogy Licencing course and the remaining Library Service (combined from TESOL, professional and in-service libraries) tries to do what it can. Corporate knowledge has been lost. In the past advisors would always see the principal first when visiting a school, so affording an opportunity for sharing knowledge.

QUT was left considering what it could do beyond its 4th year Stepping Out program to initiate pre-service teachers into the wonders of IL and collaboration with TLs. Mandy said they would have to take this back to education lecturers.

The Qld Teachers Union was represented by Kate Seed, Industrial Advocate, and Margaret Kittson, Chair of the QTU TL Cttee and TL Holland Park State School. Kate and Margaret spoke about the current procedures regarding flexible school staffing under workplace reform agreements. While QTU has tried to uphold its TL policies regarding non-contact time, CPPT and flexible scheduling in primary and special schools and Section 6 of the State Teachers Award which highlights the dual focus of the TL role, many principals choose to ignore these agreements. Strong recommendations are needed from this committee. If there are national standards then negotiations will have to take place with each industrial body.

The question of tied funding arose. Kate stated that they are already doing this with the National Partnership Agreements, so tied funding should be very possible.

The last session was the Qld Department of Education and Training represented by Laurie Campbell, E-Learning, Gary Francis, Director, Workforce Futures and Julie-Ann McCullough.

This session was in stark contrast to the previous session with BCE and QCEC. Two of the Ed Qld representatives side stepped, refused to reveal information, said they did not know the answers to questions (such as the number of TLs in their schools) etc. Ed Qld referred only to TLs’ teacher qualifications and was of the view that every teacher should have information literacy skills. Where particular students were missing essential skills in their mapped profiles, individual interventions would be made. The view was expressed that every teacher was a “knowledge worker” and that the department felt that it was important for principals to be able to have the flexibility to tailor things to suit local needs. Sharon made the point that as she sees it it is just too big a job for principals to get their heads around everything.

Marj Kirkland, Pres of the Children’s Book Council of Australia and TL, Aquinas College, and Megan Daley, VP CBCA and TL St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School tabled a supplementary submission which emphasized the differences between sectors and highlighted the need for funding and staffing in school libraries. In summary it stated:

Statistics from the March 2010 national survey by the Children’s Book Council of Australia:

624 respondents to survey.


127 schools indicated that they had received $500,000 or more in BER funding for their library; 85 of those received over $1,000,000.

Of these 127 schools, almost one in five (18%) do not have a qualified teacher-librarian in their library. In fact, the figures may be worse than that, as some libraries may be ‘out of contact’.

The average library budget of these BER libraries was $16,895.
Over 65% of BER school library budgets were $10,000 or less.
30% of BER school library budgets were $5,000 or less.


Anglican Schools:
Average Library Budget: $44,762.
80% of Anglican school library budgets are greater or equal to $20,000.
5 stated that their budgets are unknown. One commented: “We do not have a budget. We spend until told to stop.”

Independent Schools:
Average Library Budget: $37,220.
74% of Independent school budgets are greater or equal to $20,000.
6% of those schools had library budgets of over $100,000.

Catholic Schools:
Average Library Budget: $20,732.
39% of Catholic school library budgets were greater or equal to $20,000.
Less than 1% were $50,000 or greater.
43% were $10,000 or less. 22% were $5,000 or less.

Government Schools:
Average Library Budget: $10,606.
13% of government school library budgets were greater or equal to $20,000.
Only 2 (.5%) of the 375 schools had a budget exceeding $50,000.
66% had a library budget of $10,000 or below. 36% were $5,000 or less. 3% were $1,000 or less.

Marj referred to recent studies which show that information literacy is decreasing in students entering tertiary studies and critical thinking is in decline. The federal government needs to lead on IL and digital literacy and define the TL role in same.*

The question of national negotiation of database subscriptions came up again, which would be especially good for primary.

Chris Kahl, Pres of the School Library Association of Queensland Inc and Robbie Rentz, Pres, Brisbane Subcommittee of SLAQ and TL Marist College, Ashgrove offered a supplementary sub of two case studies of primary and secondary schools and a variety of programs from around Qld in different sectors.

The cmttee questioned both groups about the assertion of DETs that all teachers should/can teach IL. The consensus, including SB, was that teachers are the general practioners and TLs are the much needed expert specialists.

SB: Raised the fact, as she did in Darwin, that DEEWR has not referenced any of the research on libraries and literacy.

The need for Australian research was emphasized.

Margaret Spillman, TL Mackay West School, and Kate Balderson, Library Assnt, Mackay City Council Library Service, discussed their program Productive Partnerships-Learning for Life. This cost-neutral collaboration between the primary school and the public library has won outstanding awards, but the reason it exists is so that the school library can still offer vital services even though their budget hasn’t changed in 15 years! The Council Library, in turn, registers new borrowers in Year One of their schooling!

Queensland schools staff teacher librarians, but they do not have to be placed in the library!! They can be put on classes. There are now many schools without TLs in the library, including seven high schools on the Gold Coast.

Sunshine Coast Teacher-Librarian Network Group was represented by Graeme Smith, TL, and Kylie Downey, TL Meridan State College.

Sheryl Gwyther, author behind the Saving Aussie Books Re-visited Campaign, spoke to her submission on the vital need for quality school libraries and teacher librarians in promoting children’s literature and literacy. The school workshops they organize and their contribution to Educational and Public Lending Right royalties are significant in supporting Australian childrens writers and illustrators.

The above individuals joined the committee in considering the value of school library staffing, funding, and scheduling statistics in the MySchool website [GP: YES!] and the meaning of the Deep Web [the major part of the web, some say 500 times the size, which isn’t searchable from ordinary search engines ]

They also responded to questions about the perception that IT specialists can replace TLs (Sheryl: not their literacy role!), the PD role of TLs in keeping up with new resources and information tools (Graeme), schools being built without libraries (Kylie described a Sunshine Coast high school which tried this until they realized their students were disadvantaged, and built a library).

Margaret spoke about a Torres Strait Island school where books are being thrown out of a school library to be replaced by e-books, without consideration of IT availability and maintenance problems!

Sheryl spoke about the need to educate parents and the community and politicians in what is being lost.

The Softlink International Chief Operating Officer, Nathan Godfrey, said that 40% of Australian schools have a Softlink automated Library Management System. Yet NSW DET is holding back on upgrading to web-based systems, now a standard. Connectivity and security policies seem to be the issue. Other new key directions are Web 2.0 applications for interaction with students and books, Online Learning Portals for direct communication and Data Based Tools for analyzing and reporting. Their new GPS tool can be used to analyze reading patterns, for example, and validate against NAPLAN results.

In fact, Softlink has done this with a survey of 500 schools matching NAPLAN results to funding and staffing of the library!??!!
SB asked for the breakdown – and so does The HUB!!
What a day!!

* Greenfield, P.M. 2010 ‘Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?’, Connections, SCIS, Issue 73

University College London (UCL) CIBER group.(2008) Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. London: University College London. CIBER Briefing paper; 9. h

DEEWR interrogated by House Cttee

16 06 2010

Witnesses in today’s Canberra hearing were Dr. Evan Arthur and Margaret Banks from the federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Committee of Inquiry members included chair Sharon Bird (NSW), Dr. Sharman Stone (Vic), Mike Symon (Vic), Yvette D’Ath (Qld), Tony Zappia (SA) and Sid Sidebottom (Tasmania).

I really felt that the two groups were not quite on the same wavelength. Sharon had to keep calling them back to the issues of teacher librarianship and libraries. The witnesses talked, instead, about the government’s agendas in BER, DER, NPA and Nat’l Curriculum in broadly political terms.

Sharon Bird really tried hard, as did Sharman Stone, to highlight the lack of NP literacy programs related to libraries, the need for specific standards in teaching related to TLs, the need for IL (Sharon didn’t call it that specifically) as well as ICT pre-service training of teachers, and the need for leadership PD to incorporate role of the TL. Sharon Bird indicated it is an opportune time to see that leaders get training in the role of TLs, as part of the School Leadership Standards being developed. Margaret Banks agreed.

Stone tried to discover if any consideration was given to staffing the new BER libraries but got no real answer, other than that economic stimulus was paramount. Mike Symon’s question on value for $$ with these libraries was taken on notice.

As a new survey is currently being done on school staffing supply and demand, some sense was sought of whether the staffing of school libraries was being examined. The answer wasn’t clear to me. In the survey four years ago, principals had indicated a shortage of some 400 teacher librarians [but what does that really mean? ASLA is saying we need about 3000 TLs!) [Australian Secondary Principals certainly see a reduced supply of TLs.] It would be good if the qualifications of library staffing were included in the survey. Arthur seemed to think MySchool couldn’t do this, a school’s own web site should do this. Sharon reiterated that this is information which parents would want to know along with other MySchool data.

Arthur seemed to think there was evidence to support locally based decision making over centralized decision making (in relation to non-appt of TLs in many schools). I haven’t seen anything convincing myself – one study. He certainly hadn’t considered the evidence placing TLs strongly in improving student achievement.

Standards of excellence for teachers are still being developed and submissions being collated to go to the Australian Institute for Teacher and School Leadership. These rewritten standards will go to MCEECDYA by the end of October and will inform PD, teacher registration, pre-service courses and accreditation processes.

ASLA and ALIA are helping with exemplars for TL practice, but the fact that we already have our professional standards wasn’t mentioned nor was inclusion of IL knowledge, skills and practice in teaching standards. Issues of quality assurance in libraries was skirted around by Margaret. The actual accreditation process for teachers is being developed within jurisdictions, not by the federal govt. The idea of inspectors came up.

Bird tried to ask about cooperative database subscription through NLA, but Aruthur didn’t seem to understand. He talked instead about copyright (a committee he has chaired) and “federated identity management” so teachers could access databases such as TaLe even though in another state.

The problem of getting teachers to remote and low SES schools was explained rather extensively by Banks. Bird had to call the discussion back to the terms of reference.

Dr. Stone wanted to know if teacher librarians are driving literacy initiatives. Banks suggested that a recent literacy forum and the building of an evidence base might help answer this. Sharon Bird asked for this evidence.

I think it was Sharon Bird who said knowledge of IL and school libraries needs to be in the teacher accreditation standards [or was it just my own scribble???].

Lastly pathways into teacher librarianship studies were discussed. One avenue might be through ICT and information subjects which could be applied to graduate teacher librarian courses.

All in all, I felt the committee and DEEWR need to extend their communication, and so did Sharon Bird, as she suggested they might be called back at the end of the hearings.