As part of your education platform in, we ask you to consider the current status and future development of school libraries.
It is time for our political leaders to take a stand in support of information literacy, not just information technology.
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians 2008 state that “Australians must be able to… approach problem-solving in new and creative ways...[and to develop] skills in areas such as social interaction, cross-disciplinary thinking and the use of digital media, which are essential in all 21st century occupations.” Literacy remains one of the “cornerstones of schooling.” Literacy, critical thinking and information literacy are central to the role of the teacher librarian.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet “Federalist paper2: The future of schooling in Australia: A report by the states and territories” (2007) states “…there is a critical need for skills to prioritise and interpret the proliferation of information. There is an expectation that young adults will leave school with the capacity to communicate and learn in this context.”
It is “Professional teacher librarians [who] are central to the development of …information literate, independent learners.” Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (ALIA/ASLA 2004).
It is time for our political leaders to take a stand in support of well staffed school libraries.
There is a strong body of research linking quality school libraries to student academic achievement. It “shows that a strong library program, with a full-time library professional, support staff … leads to higher student achievement regardless of the socio-economic or educational levels of the adults in the community’ (Lonsdale Report, 2003).
Qualified teacher librarians hold recognized teaching qualifications AND specialist qualifications in school librarianship. Yet, in recent years it appears that the staffing of public school libraries with qualified teacher librarians has declined.
It is time for our political leaders to take a stand in support of equitable funding for all school libraries.
Such a stand was taken in the 1970s and this ensured that most schools achieved adequate resourcing at that time. However, this initiative was not maintained. Some government high schools are now expected to fund school libraries for 600-900 students with budgets of between $2 000 and $5 000. That equals between $3.33 and $5.55 per student. Adequate budgets must be tied to school libraries for equity in resourcing.
Tertiary Teacher Training
In addition to funding and staffing, there is a strong need to support the inclusion in tertiary teacher training of the collaborative teaching of information literacy skills between teachers and teacher librarians.
Today information can be easily accessed. Finding the appropriate information is the information specialist’s skill. The speciality of the teacher librarian is passing on those skills to teachers and to students.
We therefore ask what provision has been made, or will be made, in your education policy for the adequate funding to states to support the development of state school library educational programs? Tied grants with the condition of professionally qualified staffing can influence states to bring their school libraries up to national standards.
Education without effective school libraries is not effective education. Your support is needed now to ensure effective funding and staffing for school libraries.
Thank you for your time and consideration.