What’s Happening with School Libraries?

20 04 2017

Rick Susman, Managing Director of the Booklegger and founder of the Book Bank Initiative, is interviewed by Jon Faine and Sally Warhaft. (Broadcast Wednesday, 26 April on ABC Melbourne 774 Morning show.)  Catch up online.


Children prefer to read books on paper

15 03 2017

“…the myth” that children are all digital natives and prefer e-reading, “has already had an impact on book resourcing decisions at school and public libraries, both in Australia and in the US, with some libraries choosing to remove all paper books in response to a perceived greater preference for eBooks.

But by doing this, libraries are actually limiting young people’s access to their preferred reading mode, which in turn could have a detrimental impact on how often they choose to read.”


“Data from the 997 children who participated in the 2016 Western Australian Study in Children’s Book Reading were analysed to determine children’s level of access to devices with eReading capability, and their frequency of use of these devices in relation to their recreational book reading frequency. Respondents were found to generally underutilise devices for reading purposes, even when they were daily book readers. In addition, access to mobile phones was associated with reading infrequency. It was also found that reading frequency was less when children had access to a greater range of these devices.”

From abstract of “The influence of access to eReaders, computers and mobile phones on children’s book reading frequency” by Margaret Merga and Saiyidi Mat Roni


Letter to SMH: School libraries vital to fostering the love of literacy

6 08 2016
5 August 2016

   Dr Robyn Cox (‘‘Results won’t improve overnight’’, August 4) and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (‘‘War of words over worth of Gonski model’’, August 4) are certainly both correct in stating that literacy and numeracy results take time to improve.

However, Dr Cox needs to go further in her opinion that more focus is needed regarding teacher professional development in knowledge about language and teaching strategies about reading.  

Why do we continually believe that literacy, taught as a standalone program in the classroom is the answer to increasing literacy standards? What happens to a student after leaving school, who may have improved their literacy level according to a standardised test, but who never develops an actual reading behaviour, enabling them to actually develop that love of story, to read critically and to believe that reading is an essential, valued endeavour?   Literacy programs must revolve around quality of story and the engagement of the reader.

All schools have a library, but the quality of that library and its intrinsic value to a child’s engagement with reading is unfortunately in sharp decline.   The answer is staring Mr Birmingham et al in the face. Well resourced school libraries and a qualified teacher librarian working with classroom teachers (and even parents) in whole school reading (and writing) programs to develop a reading culture holds the key. Not only in improving the literacy results politicians are so focused on, but to set a child up with a lifelong behaviour of the joy and value of reading.  

Sharon McGuinness Thirroul

Dear candidate/local member

18 03 2012

Could we ask you to please have a closer look at the current LP and ALP policies on devil-ution in school staffing and budgeting?

Among other negative repercussions, in Australia it has resulted in the loss of separately staffed teacher librarians in our nations schools, primary and secondary.

Without adequate funds, principals have been forced to cash in specialist positions to ensure classroom teacher staffing. This has been going on since Kennett led the way in Victoria, where now only 13% of primary schools have teacher librarians. Tasmania followed suit with school autonomy and now only has 29 qualified teacher librarians in 125 K-10 schools (23%).  The Northern Territory has 13 qualified teacher librarians in 151 government schools.  New South Wales and Queensland are now threatened with the disease of “independent” and “locally empowered” public schools.

Australia is now in the embarrassing position of having 46% of our adult population unable to cope with day to day literacy needs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Core Skills for Business (DEEWR, 2008) has stated “this can create problems in the workplace that prevent a business from reaching its full potential….OECD research has revealed that raising a country’s adult literacy by just 1 per cent leads to a rise in productivity of 2.5 per cent and a 1.5 per cent increase in GDP.”

Teacher librarians improve literacy.  They promote the love of reading. build literacy skills (including spelling, grammar, vocabulary and writing skills!) which are a key to the digital age and raise NAPLAN literacy scores.  Over 60 studies have demonstrated this.  No research has demonstrated that school based management improves student learning outcomes.  It does, however, devolve responsibility and save government spending.

In this National Year of Reading, we ask you to consider instead the long term financial cost of having a nation of non-readers, students disadvantaged by not having the professional knowledge and passion for reading of qualified teacher librarians.

If you wish to have further information on any of these issues, please don’t hesitate in contacting us. We trust you will act in the best interest of our nation’s students and an informed democratic society.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

SHOUT for Literacy and Libraries

21 07 2011

More cuts to library services, now in the public arena.  In times of global economic crisis, libraries which provide internet connections, newspapers, magazines, narrative non-fiction, e-books, audio-books, p-books are needed more than ever.  While I haven’t been able to locate figures for Australia, over a quarter of UK children and young people do not own books.  Without books in the home, school and public libraries become even more valuable.

PISA reading test results (2009) for Australia show the gap is widening between higher socio-economic status readers and lower ones.  The gap is the equivalent of three years of schooling.

What would help overcome this gap? Books, books and more books!  As Professor Stephen Krashen has found over many years of research and study,   “It has been firmly established that more reading leads to better reading (and writing, spelling, vocabulary and grammar), and that more access to books results in more reading” (Krashen, Lee and McQuillan, 2010).  The most fiscally responsible way to provide these books is through public and school libraries.

Yet the recent literacy educators conference in Melbourne had nary a reference to the role of libraries in literacy.  Why?  Could it be that so many literacy teachers have no libraries in their schools? Or if they have them, they are poorly funded and inadequately staffed? Most do not have qualified teacher librarians to network with colleagues, book councils, booksellers and publishers and read professional reviews to select the best reading, whether it is e-reading or p-reading, for their unique student body.  Could it be that teacher educators, even literacy educators, have had little experience in excellent school libraries and do not pass on to pre-service teachers knowledge of the role of TLs in literacy learning?  Could it be that principals have little to go on to justify expenditure on TL staffing and library funding?

Yet if we truly believe that it is the right of every child and citizen to be able to read and to have fiction and narrative non-fiction and picture books and e-books and manga and graphic novels and iPad ezines and biographies and folklore and fairy tales and stories of exploration and invention and imagination, then we must all SHOUT FOR LITERACY AND FOR LIBRARIES!

Let your local council, your local newspaper editor, your local talkback host, your local school principal, your state government, your federal representatives and opposition spokespeople know,  children and adults need libraries to be well funded and well-staffed as never before.

To assist in this, The Hub is establishing a new information site to connect teacher educators, principals, teachers and TLs.  Your practical ideas would be appreciated. Contact hellohub@gmail.com

SHOUT FOR LIBRARIES is the catch cry of Patrick Ness, winner of the 2011 Carnegie Medal, in his acceptance speech.  It was sent by The Hub to every state and federal education minister with a request to:

  • Insist on National Guidelines for quality school library services.
  • Offer scholarships now for training places, as in NSW.
  • Put teacher librarians and libraries into federal and state policies on literacy and the national curriculum.
  • Tie literacy grants to teacher librarian staffing.
  • Ensure National Partnership Agreements and awards can not trade off specialist teachers, such as teacher librarians.
  • And read the speech in full!

Hubbers address literacy educators on libraries and literacy

7 07 2011

Tomorrow, Saturday 9th July, three members of our Hub campaign will talk to literacy educators at their national ALEA conference in Melbourne.  We are taking the message of the plentiful research linking school libraries and literacy and starting the national dialogue recommended by the Teacher Librarian Inquiry.

While all teachers support literacy teaching, it is teacher librarians who recognize the value of free voluntary reading in developing literacy and writing skills and grammar and spelling and vocabulary in children and young people.  Teacher librarians find the right book, whether a p-book or e-book or graphic novel or picture book, that will help overcome reading reluctance.  They, along with public libraries, provide equitable and fiscally responsible access to reading materials for our nation’s children, especially those who may not have books at home.

We will launch our new website for literacy educators, teachers, principals and teacher librarian mentors with practical ideas on connecting with teacher librarians and improving school library services. So stay tuned!

We hope to see some of you there!

School library budgets on the decrease – so are literacy levels

20 06 2011

Media Release from Softlink

Brisbane, June 21, 2011 

Findings from Softlink’s 2011 Australian School Library Survey revealed school library budgets are under threat and creating concern within the school community in relation to library resourcing, library staff development and literacy outcomes.

As the largest supplier of School Library Management Systems in Australia, Softlink’s survey focused on school library budgets, staffing levels, and how these factors related to student literacy levels. Over 1,200 Australian schools participated in the study.

The survey revealed four out of five Australian school libraries are struggling to cope with decreasing budgets, despite increasing demands to improve literacy outcomes and cope with digital resources.

Results indicate 28% of school libraries received budget cuts, with 16% of school library budgets experiencing more than a 10% decrease. Out of the of the schools which responded to the survey, 4 out of 5 school library budgets decreased from the prior year.

Mr. Nathan Godfrey, Softlink’s Chief Operating Officer, is concerned that school libraries and librarians are not receiving adequate support on both political and local agendas.

“The role of the librarian is rapidly evolving, due to increasing reliance on technology. Schools need to ensure that library resources are updated and relevant for students. Unfortunately, it seems school libraries are expected to do this on a diminishing library budget,” Mr. Godfrey said.

A report produced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment titled School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia, noted a clear correlation between school libraries, teacher librarians, and student achievement, and confirmed this was not widely acknowledged.

“This finding is very important, for it has officially acknowledged what we in the industry have understood for a long time. If you have a good school library with qualified library staff and adequate resources, then this will be shown as a positive result in regards to literacy levels for students,” said Mr. Godfrey.

“It would be beneficial for the school community to understand these findings and acknowledge that the school library is in fact, central to student learning.”

Softlink aims to continue their research into Australian school library resourcing and school literacy levels each year, to help in highlighting the importance of school libraries and the library staff who manage these valuable resources.

To download the Report on Softlink’s School Library Survey Findings, visit http://www2.softlinkint.com/?au/softlink-australian-schools-survey 

Karen Gear

Marketing Manager 

p: 07 3124 6111 e: kgear@softlinkint.com w: http://www.softlinkint.com