Labor (and TLs?) a chance to win in the ACT

3 09 2012

Labor a chance to win 22 Oct.

Long term lobbying by ACT TLs working with the AEU education union has gotten Labor to make some pre-election noise about the need for teacher-librarians in ACT government schools.

The ACT is in full election campaign mode and the Chief Minister has released information regarding ACT Labor’s funding to ‘equip our students for the digital age’. (

Investment in new library resources – public primary schools
This program will deliver $1 million in grants to students in public primary schools, delivering more resources to school libraries to encourage reading and digital literacy.

This funding will support the excellent level of existing literacy within public primary schools, as well as introducing students to the exciting possibilities of online learning and digital literacy from a young age.

Students will be able enjoy a range of new reading resources including:

  • Digital tablets and e-readers;
  • Computer and video conferencing infrastructure;
  • Books and e-books; and
  • Journal, magazine and newspaper subscriptions.

ACT Labor believes that school teacher-librarians remain best placed to manage the roll out of these modern resources in school libraries. As such, a condition of the annual grant will be that the school maintains a teacher-librarian.


The Canberra Times has followed up with an opinion piece by TL Holly Godfree, reprinted in the SMH “TLs crucial in info age.”  The last two paragraphs are particularly valuable:

Has this ”invisibility” [of TLs] hurt the profession? Perhaps it has. Maybe this is why teacher librarian numbers have been dwindling in the ACT’s public schools, particularly primary schools and early childhood schools, at an alarming rate. Further declines can be anticipated under the new school autonomy plans: cuts to less ”showy” parts of the learning environment are easier to make if one is forced to balance a school budget.

Noises from candidates in the upcoming ACT election regarding boosting teacher librarian numbers, along with ACT Labor’s recent announcement about the provision of extra digital resources in primary schools being conditional upon a teacher librarian being maintained to manage these resources, are encouraging developments. Governments must also commit to concrete measures to train and recruit more of these professionals, who are critical components in the transformation of mere information into true knowledge.


Keep up the great work all!

South Australian school libraries hit by tight budgets

1 08 2012

Indaily ‏@indaily
Under threat: Tight school budgets force librarians into classrooms What are your thoughts #adelaide? @aeusa

Australian Education Union takes a stand on teacher librarians

14 06 2012

While state and territory teacher’s union have supported teacher librarians to various degrees in their struggle for existence , what has been vitally needed is a statement of recognition and support from the national government schools’ union, the Australian Education Union.  At last, we have one.  Congratulations to all those who helped to develop it. It will be a much needed core document in the work of all state and territory unions in our fight to staff school libraries with qualified teacher librarians.

Library Statement 2012[1]

ACT schools without TLs are disadvantaged, Mr. Barr!

27 07 2011

The article in today’s Canberra Times by Breanna Tucker is a well considered description of our lack of faith in the awaited government response to the Inquiry report.  The recommendations themselves could have been much stronger to begin with.

Meanwhile, the article quotes the ACT DET  figures showing “that all but one ACT public high school has a qualified teacher-librarian and two-thirds of primary schools had one at least part-time.” Yet their 2008 survey with the AEU showed “almost 50% of primary schools do not have a qualified teacher librarian, although most have a teacher providing access to library resources for some of the time. A number of schools do not have any teacher employed to provide library services ” (AEU sub 113 to the Inquiry).  Has the situation improved so considerably??  Or is it once again a question of semantics regarding what a “qualified TL” might be? Principals had quoted the lack of available qualified TLs, and insufficient funding and staffing points as their reasons for not staffing qualified TLs.  Has this changed so considerably in 2 1/2 years?

The ACT Minister of Education, Andrew Barr, meanwhile, is able to wash his hands of the issue by stating that principals have been empowered to staff their schools as they please.  No mention of insufficient funds or lack of available trained TLs.  ACT DET should be offering the sorts of scholarships available in NSW from DET to place untrained personnel in tertiary teacher librarian courses. They should be providing the staffing points and the funding.

As the ACT AEU has stated in its submission to the inquiry:

Students enrolled at schools with a qualified teacher librarian who provides programs such as information literacy, promotion of reading, ICT skills and effective management of the library resources are advantaged. Consequently, those students at schools where there is no qualified teacher librarian are significantly disadvantaged in their access to successful literacy programs.

The article states that “The Australian Education Union has called on the ACT Government to make it compulsory for all schools to have a qualified teacher-librarian, at least part-time, as part of minimum staffing requirements.”

Public education should be about addressing disadvantage, Mr. Barr, and providing the best services for improving quality teaching and learning for all students.

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.