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?

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Letter to Queensland Minister of Education

26 10 2011

Hon Cameron Dick MP
Member for Greenslopes
Minister for Education and Industrial Relations

24 October 2011

Dear Sir

I am writing to ask you for your vision of the role of teacher-librarians in government schools.

The federal government has recently funded the rejuvenation of many school library facilities across the state. Regrettably, they have not followed up with funding to enhance school library services.

However, while this building revolution was underway, a federal Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools was initiated. The report of the committee has been tabled  and includes 11 recommendations which would provide an ideal framework to reaffirm this investment in student learning.

Many of these recommendations accord with the best practices revealed by almost 20 years of statistically validated research, the first 15 years of which is summarised in the report School libraries work! [2008]. Please take the time to read this.

(You can also view the related video at http://vimeo.com/16509918 .)

A pertinent quote from this report (p.4) states:

An abundance of evidence strongly supports the connection between student achievement and the presence of school libraries with qualified school library media specialists (the US equivalent of teacher-librarians in Australia). When library media specialists work with teachers to support learning opportunities with books, computer resources, and more, students learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardised tests scores than their peers in schools without good libraries. 

Softlink International has analysed NAPLAN results from Australian schools in 2009 and 2010 and detected a similar relationship. Amongst other findings, they reported that “there is a significant positive relationship between a school’s NAPLAN reading literacy score, the school library’s budget and staff allocated to the library. [From the Executive Summary.] The full report is available here.

Yet, contrary to all of this readily-available evidence, principals of many state schools in Queensland are diminishing their library services by removing teacher-librarians and replacing them with unqualified support staff; and at worse, abolishing library facilities and services altogether. With the impending implementation of the National Curriculum, these deficits will prove critical in those schools.

At the same time there are several principals who do implement best practices in their libraries. Ironically, these are most succinctly stated in the Enterprise Bargaining agreement with the Queensland Teachers Union, which can be read in their brochure. Regrettably it does not cover secondary teacher-librarians and it should. This brochure states, “This position was put on the record in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in 1997 and remains the Departmental position.

If that is the case, why is there such a wide range of opinions regarding the value of teacher-librarians and library services amongst principals in government schools? Why are schools not being audited to ensure that they are conforming to this agreement – which is after all, a legal agreement? Why is the Department not promoting this position to its principals instead of allowing them to follow their own opinions and therefore placing at risk a value-adding investment, both financially and in the learning achievement of students?

Why are teacher-librarians expected to advocate their role in their own schools to prove their worth – or lose their existence? No other group of teachers is expected to do this. Surely it is the Department’s responsibility to inform principals on the best ways to take educational advantage of this valuable investment.

So, to return to my original question, what is your vision of the role of teacher-librarians in Queensland government schools?

With respect, please do not just forward this letter to be dealt with by a Departmental officer. I have had that experience and they simply do not address the real issues. I am hopeful to hear your personal views.

Your sincerely and faithfully

Kerry Neary

Queensland Citizen

Retired Teacher-Librarian





Simon Crean praises Cairns Teacher Librarian

29 07 2010
Simon Crean, the Federal Minister for Education, attended the official opening of the Cairns West RAYMOND WOODHOUSE LIBRARY: Information and Literacy Centre today. He  spoke about the 22 years of dedicated service that teacher librarian Raymond Woodhouse has provided to staff and students at Cairns West and how his passion for improving learning outcomes for all has underscored not only their new BER library, but his many years of service.
Raymond Woodhouse
Raymond was afforded the opportunity to meet with the Minister at which point he stressed (read EMPHASISED, STATED EMPHATICALLY!!) the ongoing and ever-important need for Teacher-Librarians to remain at the forefront of educational and curriculum leadership in schools.  Thanks loads Raymond!!

Two staff members delivered a heartfelt tribute on the many ways that Raymond has assisted the whole school community over the years – Raymond, know that you are much loved by your staff and students!  Raymond, on behalf of us all in the wide TL network, we wish you sincere congratulations on this wonderful achievement … go you good T.L.!!  A wonderful reward for the hours of planning and overseeing that have become synonymous with BER projects but which result in an outstanding finished product fortunately staffed by an outstanding teacher librarian!

Report from Annette Ryan, Teacher-Librarian, Whitfield State School. Edited slightly by G. Phillips





Qld: “Get rid of teacher librarians”

10 07 2010

Media Release 11 July 2010

It is possible that teacher librarians will be gone in Queensland by 2013.

Following Tuesday’s hearing in Brisbane, 10th out of 12 in the House Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians, it was revealed that several Queensland regional executive directors of education have endorsed the decision of their principals to “get rid of teacher librarians.” One reason may be lack of funds for Curriculum leadership positions necessitated by the National Curriculum and the National Partnership Agreements.

Education Queensland abandoned a central school library service in the 1980s. The curriculm support service it evolved into ended in 1991.The last position of Education Officer-Curriculum Resources who had liaised, monitored and contributed to policy in all resource service matters in schools is gone.

Education Queensland ended scholarships for the training of teacher librarians in 1992, while Cath Ed have sponsored the training of more than 55 TLs between early 1990s and 2010 with more planned for 2011.

Education Queensland has increasingly allowed teacher librarians to be taken from the library and put into classrooms. Retiring teacher librarians are not being replaced. Now, with support from the centre, seven high schools on the Gold Coast have no teacher librarians.

Under school based management, state school library budgets, for the most part, have remained static or decreased in real terms.

This is in total disregard for the plentiful international research linking teacher librarians with increased literacy and academic outcomes. Research which the Qld DET director of Workforce Futures, Gary Francis, couldn’t say he has heard of.

Dr. Dennis Jensen, deputy chair of the inquiry, stated, “There almost seems to be a systemic and deliberate policy of running down the teacher librarian profession. It is staggering that of the places we have been, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are the two that are the most rundown.” Later, Dr. Jensen reiterated, “The interesting thing is that some of the anecdotal evidence that we have been getting, particularly in some states, is that this is a profession that is being allowed to die. Whether it is passive or active is another question.” (See Brisbane Hearing transcript)

Georgia Phillips, co-founder of The Hub, Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia, and one initiator of the federal inquiry, says, “You must wonder if state education is really about improving student learning. Or is it strictly about money?”

“Private Anglican schools for example, often have two teacher librarians, along with numbers of other support staff, and at least twice the budgets of state schools. Where is the equity?” says Mrs. Phillips.

The hope is that the report from this inquiry will provide some answers.

Further Hearings are scheduled for Adelaide on Monday and Perth on Tuesday.

Transcripts and Hearing programs available at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/edt/schoollibraries/index.htm

Contact Georgia Phillips
0419423570





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.

BER LIBRARIES

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.

Staffing:
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’.

Budgets:
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.

COMPARISON OF EDUCATIONAL SECTOR SCHOOL LIBRARY BUDGETS IN SURVEY (not just BER)

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