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



Next to last Australian school library support service to go

23 08 2013

As of 27 September, Western Australia will lose its last 15 officers who have supported school libraries in that state and around Australia. Formerly Curriculum Materials Information Services (CMIS) and more recently rebadged as E-Schooling – Evaluation and E-Schooling – Cataloguing, staff have been handed their redundancy notices.

No more links to review sources, resource price guides, and guides to selection and managing unique targeted collections.  Fiction Focus, Primary Focus, and the CMIS Resource Bank already had met their demise…all helping to resource the curriculum…and the National Curriculum, digital and non-digital.

Only NSW retains its school library support service. (Queensland does have support provided through its state library, but no dedicated departmental unit.)

If you believe in quality school library and learning centres to promote the best for student reading and learning and give teachers the resource support they need on a daily, accessible pre-selected basis, and if you are in WA, ring your local state member now.

Express outrage. Teacher librarians (and especially the many non-professional staff managing libraries in WA) require quality professional support in their efforts to broaden children’s reading experience (raise NAPLAN scores) and support digital teaching and learning and future workplace skills of collaboration and critical thinking.

How will they know if you don’t tell them?

Tip of the iceberg hits the press in WA

15 11 2011

West Australian

Well done WASLA for this start to a much needed media campaign!  Parents and voters need to know.

Open letter to WA politicians and parents

11 08 2011

Good Morning,

This is an open letter to all politicians in Western Australia, schools and parents from the Western Australian School Library Association (WASLA).

You may not be aware that one of the final stages in the devolution of education in this state has now occurred. All resourcing and support for government schools and their libraries is now almost totally devolved to the school level. DET used to provide some centralised support through a Curriculum Materials Information Service, but this is being decommissioned. DET is also shifting responsibility for managing libraries, selecting resources and caring for students to unqualified personnel – level 1/2 Library Officers and Library Technicians. A new initiative of DET, Professional Institute of Learning, is to provide PD to LOs and LTs in these TL tasks. These library personnel are being asked to take on professional duties such as teaching and supervision and the duty of care for students, plus the management duties, of a qualified teacher librarian.

WASLA wants to alert all politicians to the changes currently occurring, largely by stealth, since there has been no announcement as far as the Association is aware.

What does this mean for schools and education in WA?

.  For teachers and students the newly built school libraries are not staffed by teacher librarians (TLs). School library resources may not reflect best selection criteria to meet the needs of all students and be relevant to the curriculum (particularly the Australian curriculum with particular resource requirements). The qualified teacher librarian is trained to provide a wide range of resources across all reading, cognitive levels and formats to support learning across all curriculum areas and all children in the school.

.  The gap between the independent and government schools has now widened considerably. Independent school libraries have been shown in a 2007 survey (Combes, B, Australian School Libraries Research Project, 2008) to have much better staffing models than government schools. We now have a 2-tiered education system in WA – one for the ‘haves’ and one for the ‘have-nots’, one with several TLs/librarians, and one with Google.

.  Without teacher librarians there will be no one in schools whose specific role is to support literacy and information literacy. Our 15 year olds have some of the lowest literacy NAPLAN scores in Australia. Adult literacy levels in Australia also rank below other countries (Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, 2006). Over 40 years of international research, including the OECD PISA Report in 2002, indicate that professionally staffed libraries make a significant difference to academic achievement and literacy levels, even overcoming economic disadvantage. ACER research as far back as 1996, Mapping Literacy Achievement, indicated that higher levels of student English literacy achievement are associated with use of the library. 2012 is the National Year of Reading – who will be actioning this initiative in WA government schools?

.   The Federal Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians has just released its report. We await the government’s response. Meanwhile, NSW already staffs a TL in every school but the smallest. At the Federal Government Inquiry session held in Perth last year DET’s response was to shift responsibility for staffing back to the school level. Education in WA is moving forward according to an outdated devolution agenda first set during the Burke tenure of government in the 1980s.

.  With the transfer of DET section Curriculum Materials Information Service out of the department of education, and with the termination of their book reviewing services and resources database, there is virtually no resource support for WA schools. This will impact significantly on smaller rural/remote area schools which do not have trained personnel or in some cases have libraries that are so poorly resourced that curriculum programs are not supported at all (Australian School Library Research project, 2008). For teachers in these schools the lack of support has significant ramifications and will impact even further on the attrition rate of new teachers (up to 30%).

Devolution of education as first promulgated by the Burke Government was always part of the era of economic rationalism and the transition of an essential public service (education) to a business model. Since staffing is now also controlled at the school level, the demise of libraries and an information specialist (TL) in schools is almost complete.  This comes at a time when information access and the skills to be able to manage and use information are major issues for students entering tertiary study and the workforce. Information overload is the single greatest issue for people trying to cope in today’s society.

WASLA would like the politicians of WA to respond to the general public and explain why we have a 2-tiered education system in WA, why education in WA appears to be out-of-step with other Australian states and current federal government initiatives, and why the state government is not taking action to ensure equal opportunities in education for all children across Western Australia.

Yours sincerely

Barbara Combes,

President WA Operations, for WASLA,


Empowering Local Schools to dismiss teacher librarians

7 03 2011

Someone should tell the state premiers.  It’s been good spin for you for the past few years, but meanwhile who will be running your reading challenges when all the teacher librarians have turned out the lights? When all the books are left to parents to purchase for their child’s iPad or laptop?

Books of the Year? Sorry, can only afford to download Wind and the Willows and Alice in Wonderland and Macbeth.  Share those with bub on the knee.

What is it with Inquiries?  Do they give the imprematur to speed up the very practices being investigated for their negative effects?  Wrong word, of course. Imprematur is license to print.  We are talking here about the license to burn, discard, disregard the print.  Unless its out of copyright free print or disjointed, unverifiable, unedited, non-narrative print. Because you sure won’t find narrative non-fiction or a free Book of the Year on your laptop, Sally and Johnnie and Mohammed.

Mad?  Yes I’m mad! When I hear that the South Australian government has negotiated away any safeguard for teacher librarian positions, and school support officers are trying to cope with supporting teacher curriculum needs and students who need to be taught how to find reliable information.

Mad when I hear that Western Australia’s government is going full-steam ahead with its “Independent Public Schools” program. Teacher librarians of 20 years are suddenly supernumaries and feeling betrayed.  Library Officers get Level 2 pay to do a professional teacher’s job.  Teachers and students get short changed.

Do the real independent schools do this?  Hardly! New $8 million Resource Centre Learning Hub Libraries with four full-time professional staff speak loud and clear to prospective parents. (“Libraries turn a fresh page,” Sun Herald, 27 Feb 2011) They are saying, “We know quality libraries support quality teaching and learning.”

So what is Julia’s Empowering Local Schools policy really about?  Without the funds of independent schools, it can only be about shifting the responsibility and the blame. Even Julia knows that NAPLAN literacy results have been correlated with well-staffed and well-stocked school libraries.

So premiers, be sure you have a license for your bookmobiles. The challenge will be that the next generation can read at all.

Write a letter to your local federal member and to the House Education and Employment Inquiry committee now.