South Australian school libraries hit by tight budgets

1 08 2012

Indaily ‏@indaily
Under threat: Tight school budgets force librarians into classrooms http://bit.ly/P4MEJC What are your thoughts #adelaide? @aeusa

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No Books? No Libraries?

17 12 2011

In 2007, COBURG SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, VIC. was a new school with dispersed book collections, virtually no non-fiction and lots of computers. (See article in Access, Nov 2007 by  Jennifer Sargeant, Director of Information Resources).  The principal had said there would eventually be a library “of sorts.”  Is there now?

Also in 2007, MORDIALLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL, MELBOURNE, closed its library entirely, disposing of its existing collection “so that the space could be used for a VCE centre, with the remaining books split amongst each year level. No catalogue, no borrowing system.” Each year since, they had to buy duplicate copies of books for access.  No TL then. What’s happening now?

BULLEEN HEIGHTS SCHOOL, an autistic school in Doncaster, Victoria, didn’t have a library.  Children were using the public library. Are they still?

In 2008, the sole TL at a school of 1000 students was told that all of the non-fiction would be removed from the MACKAY HIGH SCHOOL, QLD  library. The rationale was that students in the era of the Internet do not need books to research information. Some walls in the library were knocked down to form one large area to house a mass of computers.

In 2011 the library, however, is still functioning and a thriving hub, though the non-fiction collection is much smaller.  A staff survey which opposed the removal of non-fiction may have stopped the change.

I am told that MACKAY NORTH HIGH SCHOOL, QLD was to divest itself of non-fiction [see update in comments, this has not happened.] as has CALEN SECONDARY COLLEGE, (P-12) QLD. What do students and staff and parents think?

In 2008, LUMEN CHRISTI COLLEGE, GOSNELLS, WA a consultant reviewing the library suggested the idea of getting rid of non-fiction and replacing the books with computers, because “students in the era of the Internet do not need books to research information.”  Awaiting update. (I would love to know if this “consultant,” who doesn’t know the recreational benefits of non-fiction, is still employed.)

HENLEY HIGH SCHOOL, SA 2010

The Principal of Henley High in November 2010, announced through the Messenger Press  that her school was going ‘Hi tech’, because “few books were borrowed from the library.” Within three years, she expected there to be no need for the use of that space as such. The photograph in the Messenger Press showed empty shelves behind the girl with her laptop near the fiction section that had been retained.  Many books have gone to other libraries which appreciated them. There is now no TL or library assistant. The library is now called a Senior Study Centre.

The worst aspect of it all was the reaction of DECS and the fact that the unnamed spokeswoman for the Department of Education when asked about the loss of the library simply said that schools were moving to computers. She seemed to be unaware that the Federal government has just spent billions putting libraries in schools, public and private, throughout Australia!

Departments of education in NSW and other states are using the coming into play of the Local Empowerment Policy to wash their hands of responsibilities for decisions by principals in schools. It saves so much $$!

Theoretically, school councils might be used as governing councils, but they can be told whatever the principal wishes and their advice can be ignored.

The Local Empowerment Policy, already being abused in WA through the Independent Public Schools program being set up by the Liberal government there, will allow Principals to have free rein but what about funding? There do not appear to be any guarantees built in for principals to include as essential members of staff either school counsellors – that’s why the push to chaplains – or teacher librarians. And in SA the newly negotiated agreement with the AEU has now excluded teacher librarians and school counsellors from the essential members of staff.

So now under a state government “Expanding State High Schools” program, MARRYATVILLE HS, SA Resource Centre looks to be replaced by a General Learning area where a reading room is now, a science building with an “Area supporting Resource Based Learning”, an admin office….in short dismantled and dispersed as at Henley HS.

VARSITY COLLEGE SENIOR CAMPUS LIBRARY, Qld Nov 2011

The school has made the decision to remove all the non-fiction books from the catalogue, cull many and move the rest to the backs of middle school classrooms [sound familiar?]. Senior classes will be expected to rely solely on the internet or the online databases. Some fiction books will be kept in the library space which is being converted into a “digital break-out” space.

It’s all done with smoke and mirrors folks, and under the directorship of a regional director who has publicly stated that we don’t need libraries in schools any more. Many state schools on the Gold Coast now do not have a T/L (NB: Robina, Miami, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Nerang, Southport and others… and others with a teacher in charge who is taken off some classes and spends that time in the library [remember the “good old days”?]. As one deputy has stated, their teacher in charge “sets up displays and orders books”.

MT TAMBOURINE HIGH SCHOOL, Qld. was advertising for a TL for a library with NO books  Awaiting update.

AQUINUS COLLEGE, Melbourne is reputedly going paperless next year. What do these schools know about the availability and licensing of Australia history, art, industrial arts, health, sexuality, poetry, culture, etc. books in e-format that we don’t know?

AND CLOSING DOWN A LIBRARY?

CAMBRIDGE HS, NZ, LIBRARY WAS CLOSED, NOW REOPENED 2011

Philippa Stevenson: Library’s return puts heart back into high school

The school library that was closed to be replaced by a cyber cafe was at Cambridge in the North Island of NZ.  The principal thought it was a ‘museum”.  She was eventually replaced when the decision was reversed because of the publicity and the Department of Education and government got involved.

Some US primary libraries are re-opening (though with no TLs, only volunteer parents many of whom are raising the  funds themselves to re-open their libraries: one school district in California, one in Philidelphia, a school in Michigan.  Clerks are being rehired in 2 Napa Valley schools to re-open their libraries. Belmont CA has rehired 3-4 TLs to reopen six primary school libraries 

And in Windsor Canada Catholic Schools are bringing back libraries and books!!   The Windsor Public Library and the region’s Catholic School system are working on a partnership to save the school board’s libraries from extinction. Last spring, the board made a controversial move to remove most of the books from its school libraries…..

Is there a message here?!

And the latest good news? The US Congress is set to approve $28.6 billion for school libraries.  Thanks to the heroic work of school library champion, Senator Jack Reed.  (Or should it be READ!:-)  Now where is our OZ champion?





Teacher Librarians Ramp Up Campaign

12 10 2011

See the latest Education Review and ring or email your federal MP today.

ACT NOW for Inquiry Report Response.

A teacher in WA has written to Perth members Stephen Smith and Julie Bishop:

To the Honourable Stephen Smith and Honourable Julie Bishop,

I am writing to you to encourage you to consider taking to cabinet the issue of Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools.  I was involved in writing a P&C submission to the House Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in 2010 which was included in the final report to Parliament (Giralang Primary School, ACT).  I have worked as a teacher-librarian for 2.5 of my 7 years of teaching in primary schools, here in WA and previously in the ACT.  I wish to encourage you to follow up on this issue as I, and many other educators, parents and advocates of schools, are disappointed at the lack of commitment to school libraries by individual schools, state Department of Education’s and the Federal Government, both currently and previously.

I call on the federal government to ensure that all Australian primary and secondary students have access to a school library and a qualified teacher librarian.

As it has done in the past, the federal government is in a position to influence state school library funding and staffing. To do this, it can:

  • collect national data on school library staffing, funding, and scheduling;
  • tie funding so that states can and must adequately staff and fund school library programs and services;
  • require that literacy programs and other national curricula should explicitly recognize the central role school libraries have in student achievement, literacy attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success;
  • develop national school library standards;
  • increase teacher librarian training positions in university programs.

The eleven report recommendations are not costly nor difficult and aim to advance student literacy and learning through the collection of data including a workforce gap analysis, extending programs for the training of teacher librarians, supporting Australian research similar to that overseas which has demonstrated the link between school library staffing, funding and scheduling with student achievement and literacy, lowering the cost of online databases for schools, and development of a national policy on information and digital literacy.

I would also like a body be set up to formulate up-to-date guidelines for school library staffing and funding as asked for in many of the 387 submissions. The government should also fund the placement of teachers in teacher librarian programs to meet the severe decline in numbers in most of our states and territories.

Lastly I ask you to show your commitment by signing the School Library Service Declaration at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/school-library-service-declaration.html

It is the responsibility of federal and state and territory governments to maximise educational outcomes for all Australian students through quality school library services with qualified staff.

Thank you for your consideration and support,

Dorothy Hepburn

(Primary School Teacher – Teacher Librarian)

NORTH PERTH, WA

______________________________________________________________________________ Another teacher librarian wrote in SA to his local MP (who was on the original House Inquiry committee). He will now try to follow up with a phone call.                                          

Dear Mr Zappia,

I call on the federal government to ensure that all Australian primary and secondary students have access to a school library and a qualified teacher librarian. It is important that the government acts now to respond to the Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools before the end of the year.

Personally, I am a qualified teacher librarian (M.Ed Teacher Librarianship) which means that not only can I teach comfortably within a classroom but as a Teacher Librarian I am able to work to ensure the valuable resources provided by state and Federal government funds are properly used within schools to achieve effective educational outcomes for students.

I live in Golden Grove and currently work at Paralowie School R-12 but have worked in many schools as a teacher and teacher librarian,  including Valley View Secondary School in the Makin electorate. Paralowie is a very large Reception to Year 12 school, and through the support of our principal we are lucky to have three qualified teacher libarians (two secondary, including myself, and one primary). The engagement of information, reading, literature and education within our school library (which we call a Resource Centre) that occurs across all year levels through the employment of qualified teacher librarians could not be replicated by a non-qualifed School Service Officer.

Unfortunately, our example at Paralowie is not the trend across Australia. Recently, I have heard that the teacher librarian at X will be retiring and at this stage will not be replaced next year. This is a very sad state of affairs, as the X Library was once one of the most well resourced and suitably staffed school libraries in South Australia. Similar misinformed actions have been occuring in the schools across Australia, where due to the lack of funds and support for school libraries, schools are ignorantly believing that Google will teach our students the information skills that they require in the 21st Century.

This is not about simply protecting our jobs as teacher librarians. Like many teacher librarians, I am more than qualified to teach in a classroom and have done so for over ten years. I have taught a wide range of students, subject areas and many diffferent and difficult schools across Adelaide and South Australia. My role of teacher librarian gives me the opportunity to connect valuable information and educational resources to students. As teacher librarian, I provide teachers with the best and most up-to-date resources and help teach valuable 21st Century research skills to students. Most recently this has occured with my support of the new SACE subject called Research Project. This is something that someone without the dual qualifications of teacher and librarian would not be able to do.

The eleven report recommendations are not costly nor difficult and aim to advance student literacy and learning through the collection of data including a workforce gap analysis, extending programs for the training of teacher librarians, supporting Australian research similar to that overseas which has demonstrated the link between school library staffing, funding and scheduling with student achievement and literacy, lowering the cost of online databases for schools, and development of a national policy on information and digital literacy.

I would also like a body be set up to formulate up-to-date guidelines for school library staffing and funding as asked for in many of the 387 submissions. The government should also fund the placement of teachers in teacher librarian programs to meet the severe decline in numbers in most of our states and territories. 

Lastly I ask you to show your commitment by signing the School Library Service Declaration at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/school-library-service-declaration.html

It is the responsibility of federal and state and territory governments to maximise educational outcomes for all Australian students through quality school library services with qualified staff.

Thank you for your consideration and support,

Adam Fitzgerald MEd. (Teacher Libarianship), Grad. Dip. Ed. BA.

SA





South Australian Graduate Women speak out against school library closure

30 03 2011

With permission, here is part of a recent submission to the current Federal Review of School Funding from a member of  Graduate Women – SA.  Submissions close today 31 March in Australia and can be submitted from

http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/ReviewofFunding/Pages/Submissions.aspx or from

[The final report on the Review of Funding for Schooling (Dec 2011) otherwise known as the Gonski Report]

Further submission to the Review of School Funding – March 30th 2011

Graduate Women-SA

Dear Panel,

The Graduate Women-SA, affiliated with the Australian Federation of Graduate Women with concern for the education of girls and for social justice, and affiliated with the IFUW with consultative status with UNESCO, has been made aware of the capacity of Principals in South Australia to decide which staff they need to have to fulfill their estimation of a school’s staffing needs.

However, student counsellors and teacher librarians are no longer considered essential members of staff. That means that Principals may replace student counsellors by what were once chaplains but now are Christian Pastoral Officers or workers with all the possible intrusion of sectarian influence that such a position creates. Public schools are secular in order to recognise and value the wide range of family-held positions and to free students from any form of pressure from different religious organisations….[section on school counsellors]…..

The second issue is the decision not to include teacher librarians as essential members of staff. Teacher librarians have been at the forefront of helping schools to meet the wide range of changes in resources and ‘tools’ available for learning since 1975. They have helped teachers broaden their knowledge, helped individual students explore areas of interest outside the specific subjects they are studying, provided support for students and their parents with particular needs, been there before school, during lunch times and after school to answer questions or meet all kinds of needs – intellectual, emotional and psychological. Teacher librarians, working across subjects, have helped staff and students to make links with other subjects. That interdisciplinary capacity has helped to broaden the horizons of students, staff and families. Today, because they are not tied to subject specific requirements for My School results, they are even more valuable in that their support for students’ literacy is non-judgmental and is not tied to passing or failing.

Some Principals in public secondary schools, convinced that they need to be at the forefront of the ‘digital education revolution’, have decided they do not need teacher librarians and, indeed, that they do not need libraries. In one metropolitan South Australian school the Principal has decided that the library will be redundant in another two years, believing that leasing e-books will be an appropriate alternative. While e-books may be the answer for subject-based texts, there will be a new level of costs to be factored in by schools as the loan is for a limited time.

Dispersing the non-fiction held in a library to subject areas defeats the purpose of a library where students and staff have the opportunity to explore across a range of disciplines and find unexpected connections. In the 21st century, we are becoming aware of the interconnectedness of so much that we saw as separate in the past. Graduate Women-SA urges the panel not to lose sight of the fact that face-to-face connection is important for the development of interpersonal skills and human relationships, the quality of which lie at the heart of learning.

What will be missing, if more Principals follow this approach, is the broader vision. Students do need to explore beyond the boundaries set in place by this or that subject-based curriculum. Do we want Australian children and young people to have those narrower options? Do we want them to continue to have the narrow outlook of the 20th century when one was considered either ‘academic’ or ‘non-academic’? Do we want citizens unable to recognise the connections between human and natural events? Do we want to perpetuate the past?

All resources, including books, need to be fostered in schools. Decisions to get rid of books are decisions to narrow options for students. Teacher librarians, as non-subject specific members of staff, are in the position of helping to enrich the intellectual and emotional lives of students. They contribute to improving the literacy level of students. Browsing is different from surfing. Time is secondary. A book cannot be removed from the computer once the time allocated for the loan is reached as an e-book can. The leased e-book just disappears when the time is up. What does this mean for the person for whom such time pressure undermines his or her capacity to learn?

School Principals, who have the broader visions for the future, should not be penalised because some schools decide that academic study via the computer is the way to go. Graduate Women- SA requests that the Independent Panel take into account the impact on public schools of these recent decisions by Principals who have sought to save their salaries and replace teacher librarians with subject teachers.

Graduate Women-SA asks, in this submission to the Independent panel, that it recognise the integral roles of student counsellors and teacher librarians as part of the human infrastructure of public schools. Where decisions to undermine these positions are already taking place, we request that the panel takes it into account and quarantines funds allocated to schools to counteract the impact of such short-sighted approaches to the salaries for student counsellors and teacher librarians. Not all Principals, given the Local Empowerment Policy, will be driven by this narrower technological focus. Funding for schools should not force future Principals, and their communities, down this narrower pathway.

What will be missing, if more Principals follow this approach, is the broader vision. Students do need to explore beyond the boundaries set in place by this or that subject-based curriculum. Do we want Australian children and young people to have those narrower options? Do we want them to continue to have the narrow outlook of the 20th century when one was considered either ‘academic’ or ‘non-academic’? Do we want citizens unable to recognise the connections between human and natural events? Do we want to perpetuate the past?

All resources, including books, need to be fostered in schools. Decisions to get rid of books are decisions to narrow options for students. Teacher librarians, as non-subject specific members of staff, are in the position of helping to enrich the intellectual and emotional lives of students. They contribute to improving the literacy level of students. Browsing is different from surfing. Time is secondary. A book cannot be removed from the computer once the time allocated for the loan is reached as an e-book can. The leased e-book just disappears when the time is up. What does this mean for the person for whom such time pressure undermines his or her capacity to learn?

School Principals, who have the broader visions for the future, should not be penalised because some schools decide that academic study via the computer is the way to go. Graduate Women- SA requests that the Independent Panel take into account the impact on public schools of these recent decisions by Principals who have sought to save their salaries and replace teacher librarians with library officers or school support staff.

Graduate Women-SA asks, in this submission to the Independent panel, that it recognise the integral roles of student counsellors and teacher librarians as part of the human infrastructure of public schools. Where decisions to undermine these positions are already taking place, we request that the panel takes it into account and quarantines funds allocated to schools to counteract the impact of such short-sighted approaches to the salaries for student counsellors and teacher librarians. Not all Principals, given the Local Empowerment Policy, will be driven by this narrower technological focus. Funding for schools should not force future Principals, and their communities, down this narrower pathway.

A copy of The Hub’s submission to the review can be found here.





Tell Your Union

20 03 2011

The new enterprise agreement between the Australian Education Union (AEU) in South Australia and the Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) has bargained away guaranteed staffing of teacher librarians and counsellors in government schools.  It seems school support staff can now supervise students if a teacher is permanently housed nearby or teaching in the library. Some retiring teacher librarians are being replaced by teachers without library qualifications or not being replaced at all. Staffing is being eroded.  Where a primary school of 700 may have had the equivalent of 2.0 TLs, they may now have 1.  Where there was one, there may be none. Newly graduated TLs are not able to find positions.  TLs who were formerly able to plan collaboratively with classroom teachers, now may be required to provide non-instruction time for other teachers instead.  At least 7 high schools have reported not having any teacher librarian at all. In one case the high school now has no library.  In the previous staffing formulae every school was allocated teacher librarian time.  Even under that formula an estimated one third of school libraries were not staffed by qualified TLs or were understaffed. Now there appears to be no formula.

“It may be that schools see replacing teacher librarians with [School Support Officers] SSOs as an easy cost-cutting exercise, since SSOs are so much cheaper than dual qualified teacher librarians. This blatant exploitation of SSOs is an issue in itself. But even worse is that apparent economic considerations over-ride educational theory and espoused departmental policy. Foundations for the Future declares, ‘Student learning is at the heart of everything we do’. Replacing teacher librarians with SSOs actively works against this, since it is hard to extrapolate improved learning outcomes from such a move.” (Sue Spence, “Survey highlights major problems with library staffing,” AEU Journal, SA branch, 4 December 2002.)

Western Australian AEU is commencing its round of enterprise bargaining.  So is the NSW Teachers Federation. Are you having a say in your union?

Here is one letter to the SA AEU which may inspire you to do so.





Empowering Local Schools to dismiss teacher librarians

7 03 2011

Someone should tell the state premiers.  It’s been good spin for you for the past few years, but meanwhile who will be running your reading challenges when all the teacher librarians have turned out the lights? When all the books are left to parents to purchase for their child’s iPad or laptop?

Books of the Year? Sorry, can only afford to download Wind and the Willows and Alice in Wonderland and Macbeth.  Share those with bub on the knee.

What is it with Inquiries?  Do they give the imprematur to speed up the very practices being investigated for their negative effects?  Wrong word, of course. Imprematur is license to print.  We are talking here about the license to burn, discard, disregard the print.  Unless its out of copyright free print or disjointed, unverifiable, unedited, non-narrative print. Because you sure won’t find narrative non-fiction or a free Book of the Year on your laptop, Sally and Johnnie and Mohammed.

Mad?  Yes I’m mad! When I hear that the South Australian government has negotiated away any safeguard for teacher librarian positions, and school support officers are trying to cope with supporting teacher curriculum needs and students who need to be taught how to find reliable information.

Mad when I hear that Western Australia’s government is going full-steam ahead with its “Independent Public Schools” program. Teacher librarians of 20 years are suddenly supernumaries and feeling betrayed.  Library Officers get Level 2 pay to do a professional teacher’s job.  Teachers and students get short changed.

Do the real independent schools do this?  Hardly! New $8 million Resource Centre Learning Hub Libraries with four full-time professional staff speak loud and clear to prospective parents. (“Libraries turn a fresh page,” Sun Herald, 27 Feb 2011) They are saying, “We know quality libraries support quality teaching and learning.”

So what is Julia’s Empowering Local Schools policy really about?  Without the funds of independent schools, it can only be about shifting the responsibility and the blame. Even Julia knows that NAPLAN literacy results have been correlated with well-staffed and well-stocked school libraries.

So premiers, be sure you have a license for your bookmobiles. The challenge will be that the next generation can read at all.

Write a letter to your local federal member and to the House Education and Employment Inquiry committee now.





The federal inquiry: where are we up to?

24 02 2011

The Federal House Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools has been resumed.  The re-constituted House education committee (now called the House Standing Committee on Education and Employment) is finalizing its report.

In fact, the new chair was quoted in the committee’s last media release: “Announcing the inquiry, Committee Chair Ms Amanda Rishworth, MP, said, ‘The Committee is very pleased that this matter will be revisited by the new Education Committee. Teacher librarians make a significant contribution in our schools and we look forward to sharing our findings on how to enhance this valuable community resource. ‘”

The committee will still take submissions. They hope to have a draft completed by the end of this autumn session and before the budget session. Your submissions might include updates on changed situations, such as that in South Australia where principals are now given carte blanche when it comes to staffing under the new state award.

Under such conditions, Victoria has only 13% of its primary schools staffed with teacher librarians.  If you are in a state school or are a state school supporter, you should be fighting for a dying profession and making your views known to your state AEU branch or association.

The AEU’s latest poll asks how you think school funding should be spent if public education funding were increased. Specialist teachers such as teacher librarians are not mentioned.  It makes you think they haven’t paid any attention to the inquiry and its strong message.  If you wish to let them know how you feel email aeu@aeufederal.org.au

If you are in Victoria or South Australia (or any state or territory!) you should be writing to your federal member and to your state member to urge them to renew the profession and to stop the extinction. There must be strong national and state school library standards. Teacher librarians must be visible in policies and programs which acknowledge their explicit value, with adequate support staff and funding, to student literacy and academic achievement.

Australia has been a world leader in having dual qualified professional staffing in its government school libraries.  Now NSW is the only state left to do so.  Federal National Partnership Agreements threaten TLs even in that state.

The Hub calls on our national and state professional associations, unions, childrens writers and book councils, parents associations and all teachers and teacher librarians and their supporters to come together in a national campaign. Now, before the budget session, and BEFORE the report recommendations are made, is the time to act for

A Qualified Teacher Librarian in Every School!