Carpe diem

16 05 2013

According to Learning for the Future, one of the three key roles of the TL is that of curriculum leader and many are wearing that hat as they guide the implementation of the Australian National Curriculum in their schools.  However, for many, much of what is done for that is a behind-the-scenes role as resources supporting its various strands and outcomes “magically” appear just as they are needed, and little thought is given by the classroom-based teachers just how the resources might have been identified, located, evaluated, selected, acquired and processed so they are right there when required.

But on May 22 the National Simultaneous Storytime will give us an opportunity to be the star on the stage rather than the guide on the side.   This is a chance to work with all teachers across all year levels to share a story and develop a range of before-and-after activities that are tailored to the needs of each class so they can fully appreciate both the text and the experience.


This year’s text is The Wrong Book by Nick Bland and it really can be used across all ages. Thoughtful collaboration and planning will allow  all levels to experience a shared event (one-school-one-book is a phenomenon in the US) and  might even help dispel the myth that picture books are for little people.

For starters, the publishers have given permission for it to be

  • presented as a readers theatre
  • presented as a story telling
  • presented as a puppet show
  • translated for multicultural storytimes

So, immediately there are some ideas that will engage the older students particularly if they are charged with creating a presentation for younger students. Each idea has the potential for a host of associated learning opportunities from investigating the best sorts of puppets to use and designing and creating these to learning how to use your voice with no other props to tell a story, that could form the basis of a very productive partnership between TL and teacher.

Other sites have ideas too, but be warned – they take more effort than photocopying a blackline master or template. Shoosh-and-colour is not an option. Share the ideas with your colleagues (they might even spark some original thoughts) and decide how you will work together to make this event more than a ten-minute time filler.

The page from the official site gives suggestions for books with similar themes as well as other titles by Nick Bland so if you are not in a CPT situation, perhaps there’s an idea for a parallel program in the library.  During the day, take photos, tweet, post on Facebook , exploit social media to get others involved and afterwards tell your parents what their children did and how much they enjoyed it. Even having students create a bookmark that says

I enjoyed sharing The Wrong Book by Nick Bland with thousands of others during the National Simultaneous Storytime today

is a way of reporting to parents and putting them in the picture and the library in the spotlight.

There’s an app from iTunes; teaching notes; even a Braille version – the only thing there is NOT is an excuse to avoid being involved and seizing the opportunity to provide a leadership role and demonstrate why your school has and needs a teacher librarian.

Be pro-active.  Be visible. Be out there.  Your job may depend on it.


Target: September 14

31 01 2013

The date of this year’s federal election has been set as September 14.

So that gives TLs a little over seven months to target the two key groups who have the most influence over our futures – parents and politicians.

Parents can be your strongest allies and your greatest critics. But they have the power and the voice at the ballot box so it is essential that they understand what it is the TL really does. Starting on the common ground of wanting to provide the best education for their child, it is critical to involve them in what is happening in the library by keeping them informed if not actually in there.

  • Have a prominent presence through your newsletter, website or social networking media and keep them regularly informed of what each class is undertaking while in your care; events; new releases of books or movies, whatever you think they need to know. Make yourself or your presence their go-to place for information. Regular communication makes the library the hub of the school.
  • Provide homework support with links to curriculum-related websites, safe game sites for each age group; and other interesting sites that will engage them and support their learning and leisure activities
  • Provide a parent information lounge both on your website and in your library with information about the school, child development, supporting their child’s literacy and numeracy development, cybersafety, local services and entertainment for children (collect brochures or link to sites), help lines such as the Poisons Information Centre or Lifeline, even lists of appropriate authors, titles or series for each age group for birthday or Christmas lists.
  • Collaborate with other teachers to host parent participation programs in which the parents learn how to listen to their child reading; help with homework without actually doing it; search without Google (or tips and techniques about using it effectively); understand information literacy; anything that they feel that they might need. Be the pivot on which the relationship between the home and school balances.
  • Support parents reading with their child, particular those who have just started their education journey, by having grab bags of seven selected titles, that parents borrow like a resource box. There are enough appropriate books for a new title every night, are easily available and borrowed in one transaction. (Enlist some mums or dads who sew to make you some distinctive bags, each one a little different so it’s easy to remember which has been borrowed. Put the barcode on a keytag and attach it to the handle.)
  • Create links with your pre-school, even having regular storytime sessions with them if that is practical. The younger the child, the more involved the parent so educate them early.
  • Speak at P&C meetings about what you do so the word spreads that the school library is a very different place from that which they might remember.
  • Politicians are the puppet-masters who hold the purse-strings – they are the people who direct educational authorities to implement the big-picture changes like National Partnerships, teacher accreditation, Local Schools, Local Decisions and so forth.

    They are driven by power, economics and votes. Most have high ideals and are busy. The role of the teacher librarian is not at the forefront of their responsibilities and many have perceptions based on what they remember of their experiences, however long ago that was.

    Despite the National Inquiry raising the awareness of the role of the teacher librarian amongst some federal politicians we are yet to see any meaningful change from their recommendations, so it is time to apply the pressure again. Even though the federal government continues to say that staffing is a state government decision, nevertheless with the Prime Minister’s stated focus on education in the election campaign, we now have another opportunity to get our voices heard.

    If local politicians, actual and would-be, are kept informed of what it is the teacher librarian adds to the education experience of their constituents and they can see there is the likelihood of votes from parents then they can be powerful allies.

    Politicians love to be seen as being ‘in on the action’ which is attracting their constituents. They love an opportunity to be seen and talk and getting them on your side is imperative. Be apolitical and put your preferences aside. Don’t limit yourself to the sitting member – wannabes need to get their names into the community so people recognise it on that election sheet, and those in Opposition love to be informed enough to ask Questions in the House. Build up a positive relationship so when the candidates need a school for a photo opportunity, a launch, a place to place funds, it’s your name and face that come to mind.

  • Invite them to any library-based function you have but look for unusual celebrations – the Unique Selling Point that will make your event stand out – such as a student-organised Literary Luncheon, a poetry reading by a local poet, a book launch by a new author or illustrator – anything that is also likely to attract the media so they can have a photo opportunity
  • Invite them to be guest readers, bloggers, speakers, artists or presenters, especially celebrating students achievements based on library challenges. Do a lot of the legwork for them such as

       booking well ahead, including information about the importance of the event with the invitation, sending a reminder with a background brief and an indication of what they are expected to do – it’s about getting them to value the library not necessarily save them work. They will come again if you are PROFESSIONAL.
       selecting the book and getting it to them in advance to practice
       suggesting the focus of the blog post such as their opinion of any proposed educational legislation
       have them be a focal point of your citizenship studies so they talk about what they do
       if you know they have a passion for poetry, drawing, music or whatever invite them to perform as part of a school-based event. It doesn’t matter if it’s not library-related, it’s about reinforcing the connection.
    • Email, write or phone them to let them know how decisions affecting the employment and deployment of teacher librarians affects the teaching and learning in the schools in their electorates – let them know that the parents are the voters who will keep them or not.
    • If there is something such as the NSW Local Schools, Local Decisions policy that is really going to impact on the teaching and learning at the school, make an appointment and visit them. Be prepared and demonstrate how the issue will affect the families in the electorate rather than your employment. Keep in mind that votes talk and there are more parents than teacher librarians.
    • Start planning your campaign NOW – and share your ideas through the Comments.

  • 2011-The year of the school library

    3 02 2011

    With all the disasters affecting Australia at the moment, school libraries could easily be put on the back burner. Yet, parents and teachers and library supporters are among those pitching in to see that they are not. The School Library Association of Queensland is providing information about flood and cyclone affected schools and school libraries. You can even “adopt-a-library” to get those in need up and running again.

    The Australian School Library Association offers links to disaster recovery resources.

    And our own efforts which saw the Federal Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians proceed last year will continue. Peter Garrett, Minister of Education, has agreed to resumption of the Inquiry following the interruption of the federal election, to ensure that the new House Standing Committee on Education and Training will produce a report.

    Hubbers urge you all, and especially parents and voters, to ensure this report is tabled in parliament and acted upon. Prime Minister Gillard still sees education as a priority. In the face of national and global climate change disasters, this becomes even more vital.

    Parents may like to read our article at for further information and advice on ensuring our children have quality school libraries.

    Further on Empowering Local Schools

    3 08 2010

    The key for effective local decision-making is, and will be, principal and parent training. Principals and parents need to be aware of the difference a TEACHER librarian makes. They will have to learn performance management of their teacher librarians, what makes an excellent TL and an excellent library. How are literacy and teaching and learning supported by quality school libraries?

    Julia’s fact sheet states: “Principals will have a greater role in staff performance management within existing enterprise bargaining arrangements. ” So the role of the teachers unions is very important. The AEU (which included SA appendix), Tasmania, NSW, and Qld unions did make submissions to the Inquiry and appear as witnesses. So did the NSW/ACT Independent Education Union. Yet AEU has told me it has no resources for a TL campaign. Teacher librarians must get involved with their unions and urge them to negotiate agreements which will not allow teacher librarian positions to be traded away. They must actively support campaigns to educate principals and parents, such as has been done in Canada, for example.

    Julia says, about Empowering Local Schools,

    An additional $6.9 million will fund implementation, including the development of a specific training course for principals on leading and managing a more autonomous school, the development of innovative governance models and a longitudinal evaluation. “ Who are the school library experts to advise on such training, when so much corporate knowledge has been lost?

    “The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership will lead the development of a training course for principals on the fundamentals of leading and managing local schools with greater levels of local independence. “ Again, who can advise the AITSL? ASLA can not do it all.

    “From next year the Gillard Labor Government will also work in partnership with education authorities to prepare for a transition to more empowered local schools. Funding of $17.7 million over four years will be provided to education authorities so they can provide support and training to principals and make other necessary changes like modify IT systems to support schools becoming more independent. “

    So who in academic or systemic advisory positions will be able to advise on school library management training? Will academics at CSU, QUT, and ECU be able to step up to the plate? Will advisors from WA CMIS and NSW School Libraries and Information Literacy unit find the time, especially as the former has already been restructured out of their DET and the latter is about to be restructured?

    “The rollout will also build on good practice from established models presented by Victorian Government schools, Catholic and Independent school systems.”

    Victoria! Their DET didn’t even appear at the Inquiry. Although SLAV did, their de facto advisory and training body. Brisbane Catholic Ed would have some expertise to offer though, since they are sponsoring TL training at QUT these days in order to very wisely staff qualified teacher librarians! (Hale BCE:-)

    “It will also capitalise on existing trials being rolled out as part of the Teacher Quality National Partnership, including 34 Independent Public Schools in Western Australia. “ Can anyone tell me if school libraries have been considered as part of these programs ?

    And we will have to educate parents if they will have increased local control. As it is now they don’t even necessarily know the difference between a clerical assistant and a teacher librarian.

    “Enhanced school governance arrangements,” says Julia, will give “school councils or boards responsibility for strategic planning, and oversight of the school’s operations and finances. This will enhance parental and community ownership of local schools. “But a great many resources and programs will need to be put in place if this local ownership will actually improve student learning. There is very little research which shows it will.

    “Each school will determine what needs to change to improve student outcomes, drawing on the knowledge of teachers, parents and student performance information like NAPLAN and MySchool. ” It would be great if the stats for school library staffing and funding could be included in the MySchool data, as the Inquiry committee was exploring. The Softlink survey reported on in their Inquiry submission showed that the link could well be there between NAPLAN results and school library staffing and funding.

    School libraries are just so far off the radar when you look at leadership sites like Principals Australia and parents sites like ASCCO.(Though ACSSO has greatly supported TLs in the Inquiry. See comment below). We all have a lot of work to do.

    More to ponder:
    Principals and other staff members will also be offered additional support and training so they can effectively exercise their new responsibilities, and generate better outcomes for their students. (GP: Again, who has the expertise to provide this on school libraries? Academic and corporate knowledge lost.)

    By providing greater flexibility over the mix of staff within a school, principals will be able to devolve administrative responsibilities (GP: so more sacrificing of TLs to free up executive?) that currently occupy much of their time so they can focus more on school leadership, teaching and learning.

    Individual teachers will also have more power to contribute to and shape school decision making processes. Individual teachers know better than anyone what needs to change within the school environment to improve the performance of their students, and this reform will empower them to make those changes with the support of the principal and parents. (Yet there has been no pre-service and little in-service training re collaboration with TLs.)

    Victorian PS Parent Speaks Out

    29 04 2010

    To Vic MLA, Helen Shardley

    Re:  Library funding – X Primary School

    I am writing to complain about the absence of library funding provided to our local school, X Primary, where I have chosen to send my children.  It is completely incongruous with the much publicised emphasis on improving literacy levels in schools, that we learn that with a school of less than 200 students, we are not entitled to any funding at all for a qualified teacher librarian – not even for 2 days per week!  The national standard recommended by the Australian School Library Association is one teacher-librarian per 318 primary students or per 221 secondary students.

    Our library is funded and supported solely by Parents’ Club fundraising efforts and parent volunteers who recognise the importance of the library as the intellectual hub of the school and work tirelessly to support this for our children.  What is missing though, is the qualified teacher librarian – something that is compulsory in New South Wales!

    Studies over the past two decades have consistently highlighted the direct correlation between student achievement and well-staffed school library programs.  Australian research has also confirmed that extensive use of the school library is associated with a significant difference in students’ literacy achievements.

    If our governments are talking about improving literacy and information literacy, about authentic, resource-based learning and quality teaching, and if we are talking about equity, we must agree that ALL Australian students deserve professional school library services managed by professionally trained teacher librarians.

    I am writing to ask what you can do now and in the future to address this within your electorate.

    What can you do to support strong school library programs that are adequately funded and staffed with trained teacher-librarians, in order to achieve the national goals for literacy and information literacy?

    What will you do to work towards equitable funding levels across all schools for resource purchase and teacher-librarian staffing?

    I thank you in anticipation of your support.

    Yours faithfully,


    A Dying Profession?

    28 04 2010

    Dr. Jensen, Deputy Chair of the House Standing Committee on Education, at the Inquiry committee hearing in Sydney yesterday, bluntly stated he sees us as a dying profession. That’s what the stats tell him.

    The new manager for NSW School Libraries and Information Literacy unit was embarrassing in his ignorance.  Poor Colleen Folley. There won’t be a unit for much longer under such “leadership.”

    And the committee more or less implied that if  parents aren’t  concerned, why should they be? They were, however, well informed and sympathetic and insightful.

    Where are the parent subs from Tasmania, Victoria, ACT, WA, NT where they don’t have TEACHER Librarians mandated, as in NSW?  5 weeks, including school holidays, was a bit quick for their submissions, but they certainly can still make their voices heard.  In the media, with letters to local members, with letters to the House Committee and to Julia Gillard.

    But do parents know the difference between a volunteer library lady and a TEACHER LIBRARIAN? Have you told yours?

    In NSW it feels like we are at the barricades in fighting the federal government NPA agreements for funding which don’t preserve the staffing of TLs!  Qld and SA are already losing the battle, with TLs increasingly being put in the classroom in high schools. A former NSWTF officer just told me it will happen here.

    If TLs aren’t out there in front of Parliament House in Melbourne today and in Hobart on Friday with placards letting the public know TEACHER LIBRARIANS MAKE A DIFFERENCE, then public school TLs might as well close up the shop.

    OR you can contact your local media now.  They are on to the story.  Tell them why we need TEACHER librarians.

    You might want to listen to  yesterday’s Canberra Drive program with Louise Maher interviewing GP.

    I note no regional TL groups, nor the Vic teachers union nor parent groups are appearing at the Melbourne hearing today.  And the Victorian Dept of Ed refused to appear.

    That says a matzah.


    6 08 2009

    Some examples of submissions which have been made to government bodies regarding school libraries.

    The Submission from the School Library Association of South Australia to the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, 2005

    Submission to the 2020 Summit on behalf of The Hub, 2008.

    Submission by SLASA to the National Enquiry into Teacher Education, 2005.

    Submission from NSWTF re joint use libraries to the Committee on Public Libraries, 1980’s

    Submission from ALIA to the National Enquiry into Rural and Remote Education, 1999

    Submission by Sharon McGuinness to the ALIA Workforce Summit 2008.

    Submission by the Council of School Library Associations of South Australia to the Senate Inquiry into the Role of Libraries in the Online Environment, 2001.  Submission from School Library Association of Queensland (sub 97) to same.  Submission by ASLA (Sub60) to same.  Sub from WACSSO to same .  All at

    Are there others we should know about?