The evidence persists

6 03 2019

Keith Curry Lance and Debra Kachel have an excellent summary of the research on the value of trained teacher librarian staffing in Phi Delta Kappan (26 March 2018) Why School Librarians Matter

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


2015 Softlink Survey Results Published

13 04 2016

The sixth annual survey of Australian school libraries has expanded to include New Zealand Schools. The first survey was done to inform Softlink’s submission to the federal Inquiry into  School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools. Survey results are an invaluable source of information on school library staffing and budgets, to inform advocacy.

Of the 9404 schools in Australia (ABS, 2015) and 2538 schools in New Zealand, 994 responded to the survey. While a low percentage of respondents, no other such statistics are collected by an Australian body. These statistics  provide a much needed snapshot over time, and reinforce findings of other studies internationally.

For example:

  • There was a positive correlation between annual Australian school library budgets and NAPLAN Reading Literacy results.
  • There was a positive correlation between the number of school librarians employed in Australian school libraries and NAPLAN Reading Literacy results.

Further findings, including information on mobile device uptake and e-books, can be found in the report available at

Congratulations, Softlink, for your on-going support for teacher-librarians.




Australian School Library Survey

15 05 2013

Research studies continue to show that library programs run by a trained teacher library improve student literacy and learning. These studies provide important evidence of the true value of libraries in schools and support our ability to effectively advocate the role of teacher librarians.

One survey which goes a long way to help reinforce the value of our industry is Softlink’s Australian School Library Survey. Since 2010, this survey has identified a positive link between well-resourced libraries and student literacy (NAPLAN) results.

The 2013 Australian School Library Survey is now open.

We encourage school and teacher librarians to participate in the survey and ensure your voice is heard.

The survey will again this year analyse Australian school library budgets, qualified staffing levels and literacy results as well as other key trends impacting school libraries. The results will be provided in an industry-wide report. A copy is distributed to all participates as well as federal and state government and education department decision makers.

For more information please visit the Softlink 2013 Australian School Library Survey.

School Libraries & Student Achievement

6 03 2013

Way back when, Keith Curry Lance and his colleagues undertook a study in Colorado to determine the correlation between school libraries and student achievement on mandated state tests.  This became known as the First Colorado Study and, since then, it has been replicated in many US states as well as other countries and the same results continue to emerge – that students with well-staffed, well-resourced libraries where there are formal programs of instruction consistently out-perform students in schools where this is not the case.

Given the high-stakes testing that is likely to accompany the funding for the Literacy Initiative, it is timely that a new infographic summarising the results of all these formal studies has been produced by the Library Research Service

This is the sort of information that we need to not only have at our fingertips, but also to share with executive so they start to understand that when TLs advocate they do so on behalf of their students, not because they are pushing their own barrow.

Recently a memo was sent to all staff in a particular network of NSW secondary schools advising each faculty of the venue they needed to go to for the upcoming Staff Development Day focusing on the Australian National Curriculum due to be implemented in that state starting in 2014.  Tacked on the bottom was the statement

The venue for Librarians and Careers is unknown at the present.

Setting aside the argument that such a subject-driven approach is archaic and a relic of the Industrial Age of the 19th century, what does it say about

    • the committee’s knowledge about the ANC where Inquiry is a substrand of all the other strands except English and Maths, where it could arguably also sit?
    • the committee’s knowledge about the role of the TL as a curriculum leader?
    • the committee’s commitment to the best learning outcomes for the students in their care?

Perhaps it is time that we actively push what the research is saying, and this infographic will be a great start – who can say that they don’t have time to look at a picture?

If the Federal Government is serious about improving the literacy development of our youngest students then the TL has a vital role to play and we need to make them aware of this.  Perhaps it is time to start a letter-writing campaign to our local members AND the wannabes given the likelihood of sitting members being returned in many electorates so that they know the power of the TL’s role; and to also start telling parents through newsletters, social networking and so forth that their children don’t need the added stress of a Junior NAPLAN – they just need a qualified, active, top-shelf TL like you.

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 

Karen Gear

Marketing Manager 

p: 07 3124 6111 e: w:

Teachers asked, “Who’s in your school library?”

8 02 2011

See the new issue (January/February 2011) of Teacher magazine published by the Australian Council for Educational Research for our latest article, this time with important information for teachers on school libraries. “Who’s in your school library?” (pp.64-65) lets teachers know about the research which shows that well-stocked and properly staffed school libraries make a difference to quality teaching and to student literacy and learning. If their school is falling short, it is suggested they find out more and lobby the decision-makers asking “why Australia is falling behind in the PISA reading results…”? Recommended reading for all teachers.

Town Hall Debate? Ask Tony and Julia about school libraries

16 08 2010
Better Schools Need Better School Libraries

So there’s going to be one or two more debates.  Ask Julia and Tony about Better Australian School Libraries.

Australia’s public schools have lost over one third of their qualified teacher librarians (TLs) in the last 15 years (See state by state statistics). 3200 new or refurbished BER libraries are great. But they are only warehouses without qualified staff. Technology is great. But worth little without qualified TLs helping teachers and students to find and analyze deep web information to build new learning.

What can a federal government do?

Collect the needed workforce data. Tie technology and resource grants to appropriate staffing. Fund tertiary training programs and sponsor places. Develop national standards. Highlight international research linking well-staffed and well-supported school libraries with student literacy and learning in the National Curriculum. Develop leadership programs so school leaders can build and evaluate effective school library programs.

Australian research has found a direct connection between well staffed and resourced school libraries and NAPLAN reading results. International research shows student test scores are higher where their libraries are more fully staffed and where teacher librarians work collaboratively with classroom teachers.

Ask the candidates what they will do to increase student literacy and learning through support for a qualified teacher librarian in every school.

The Hub at ASLA XXI

29 09 2009

Well, in 24 hours I will know if it was standing room only, or if the room echoed with the sounds of me rustling my notes.  Yes, The Hub is appearing in person tomorrow at the ASLA XXI Biennial Conference.  We were a last minute entry,   due to the late cancellation of some other presenter. Whoever and wherever you are, I hope you are okay, and thanks so much for the spot.  It also means that fellow hubber Georgia had made other plans, so it’s just a solo presentation.

So if you would like to hear more of what we’re on about, get some inspiration for singing the praises of TLs,  have any questions you would like to ask in person,  or even if you’re itching to put me in my place for a previous blog post that didn’t sit well with you, come along.   We’re all about TLs speaking up, so bring your interactive self and add your voice to the discussion.

Getting the word out, G Phillips and L Paatsch

ASLA XXI Biennial Conference, Thursday Oct 1,  11am (concurrent session D)


School Libraries, the Hub of the School

11 08 2009

I continue to be impressed with the great work being undertaken in by the Ontario Library Association for school libraries.  Earlier this year they commissioned a study by the coalition People for Education and researchers at Queen’s University  on exemplary libraries.

As stated in their media release, “Libraries should be the “hub” of the school. For this groundbreaking Queen’s University/People for Education study, researchers examined a number of school libraries to find out what made them more effective than most. Though each library was unique, there were ten essential characteristics that made them “exemplary”:

1. The school library acted as a “hub” of teaching and
learning for the whole school. Both the library and the teacher-librarian
were recognized by the rest of the school staff as playing a critical role
in supporting the educational outcomes of the school.

2. The principal regarded the teacher-librarian as a key
teaching member of the staff and allocated adequate resources to the

3. The principal expected classroom teachers to partner
with the teacher-librarian.

4. The teacher-librarian collaborated with classroom
teachers. They planned lessons together, cooperated on professional
development, and even taught classes together.

5. The principal and classroom teachers understood how to
work with a teacher-librarian.

6. The teacher-librarian did not have to cover excessive
amounts of other teachers’ preparation time.

7. The teacher-librarian was full-time.

8. The teacher-librarian was an active, dedicated and
effective teacher.

9. Classroom teachers and the administrators considered
the library a classroom and a place for learning.

10. The school library had multiple roles, beyond book
selection, reading and research.”

As in Australia, policy and funding have focused for a number of years on literacy teaching paradoxically neglecting the integral role of school libraries.  The situation in our government schools is very similar.

The release goes on to say

1. Funding is the biggest challenge facing school libraries. It determines the amount of time the teacher-librarian can devote to teaching.

2. There is no provincial policy to ensure all schools have fully-functioning libraries. As long a school libraries are not an integral part of the educational system at the provincial level, through provincial funding, and staffing policy the school library cannot realize its full potential

3. A lack of experience and an unawareness of how school library programs can contribute to education often prevents teachers, administrators and policy makers from considering school library programs as an essential component of education. Many principals and classroom teachers have not had the experience with library programs which would allow them to understand how well-supported library programs can contribute to the school’s educational goals.

4. Principals in the study identified the use of the teacher-librarian to cover preparation time as an increasing pressure. Preparation time must be covered by other qualified teachers in the school, and teacher-librarians are frequently assigned this role. The greater amount of time that a teacher-librarian must devote to prep coverage the more restraints there are on instructional collaboration with teachers and the more restrictions on open scheduling

Sound familiar?

For a powerful powerpoint to present to your principal, see the OLA’s

Presentation of the Exemplary School Library Report, Jan. 29/09 at the Library Superconference.