National Cyber Security Awareness Week – Project 13 Launch

20 05 2013

This week is National Cyber Security Awareness Week and is a perfect opportunity for the launch of Project 13, an initiative of national and state school library associations, national library association, philanthropic and corporate partners to help keep kids and teens safe online.

Project 13 recognises the special role of school libraries as a place where students access and use information online, and the opportunity library staff have to promote effective digital citizenship behaviour and responsibility. The project complements other school initiatives to deal with cybersafety by positioning school library staff as having an important role in keeping students safe online.

The Project 13 website can be found at and will be launched today, Monday 20 May.

Through Project 13, school library teams will have access to web-based resources and information tip sheets led by eSmart, a cybersafety system from The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, to offer guidance to students and parents. Industry partner, Softlink will be conducting research into school libraries and cybersafety as part of its annual Australian School Library Survey.

Being involved in Project 13 assists you in your work towards the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Standard 4 – Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments.

What do we want in a national professional association?

19 08 2012

We have never needed a strong, unified national professional association more than the present:  One which continues to follow up on the federal inquiry and to focus on advocacy for our shrinking profession. One which builds cooperation and unity with state and territory associations and alliances with other educators and parents.

A strong, unified national body could and should take leadership in following up the recommendations of the Federal Government Inquiry. It should campaign for national guidelines, lobby for “School Library Month,” facilitate a national dialogue …It must have a dedicated advocacy committee.

A strong, unified national body would ensure that its magazine contains articles about its meetings with ministers of education, DEWEER and tertiary TL trainers and about the profession globally.

A strong, unified national body would provide professional learning opportunities for principals and teachers, as well as TLs.

A strong, unified national body would use frequently up-dated social networking tools and up-to-date wikis to keep all members informed.

A strong, unified national body could develop advocacy tools for individuals and for state association campaigns, such as videoclips and e-brochures.  Short videos could be created through a sponsored student competition such as the US Why I Love My Library competition.  Brochures for targeted audiences could be commissioned. Guidance for parents could go beyond a wiki checklist. Assistance to principals in developing strong library services could be published. A strong, unified national body should be able to commission all of these efforts.

A strong, unified national body would form a coalition with publishers, authors, and parents to publicize the unique and vital role of professional teacher librarians in schools.

A strong, unified national body would use National Year of Reading to promote the role of TLs in reading development.

It would respond to the Gonski Report, lobbying for increased funding for public schools which are stretched to staff specialist teachers like teacher librarians

It would encourage all TLs to work with their teachers unions, using the recent AEU statement on the value of teacher librarians.

It would have a strong, articulate spokesperson, trained, along with all Board members, in working with the media. It would have a media coordinator whose sole job is to ensure TL success stories get press and broadcast time, speaking out on the detrimental effects of school autonomy and other relevant issues.

It would have vision, focus and leadership, and, most importantly, will. And its agenda and decision-making would be transparent. Public dialogue would be encouraged about objectives and agendas, with no single voice dominating.

ASLA could provide these needs. It certainly proclaims such aims. So could the Schools group in ALIA. It has the larger professional body for support. In the US, the professional librarians’ association, the ALA, is campaigning strongly for school libraries.  We could become a strong voice through ALIA. Or we could form a new association entirely. One thing we MUST do is discuss what we want to see of our professional associations (please leave comments here as this topic is seemingly blocked on OZTL) and then we must make it happen.

Thursday’s Inquiry Hearing in Canberra with ASLA

24 06 2010

Draft Notes from a Hubber on the Hearing, 24 June 2010, Canberra

Questions to Karen Bonnano and June Wall of ASLA included exploring some of the evidence from the last hearing with the federal department of education.

• Sharon Bird (SB). What is ASLA’’s view on standards, the teaching institute and how that can support teacher-librarianship? Is the process constructive or are there concerns?

• SB. There is evidence of pressures on TLs to become tech support which impacts on the TL’s capacity to fulfil their job. How widespread a problem might that be? Are there better models elsewhere? Are there ways for TLs being involved in the rollout but not stuck with tech support? i.e. What additional resources are needed to make the rollout effective?

• SB. Is there anything to say about the provision of databases, packaging of them, access and equity?

• SB. People feel the need to bite the bullet with parents and the community about what the modern school library is and about how provision of qualified staff can be addressed. There is no reporting of literacy projects that are library driven. Given that the question is not asked in data collection, what is happening that doesn’’t get reported? MySchool has the potential to report on school libraries, resourcing and staffing. Given it is a complex issue, does ASLA approve of that or not?

• SB. The evidence is evocative of how significant digital literacy and digital citizenship are. What would ASLA add?

• Yvette D’Ath. Interested in resourcing and regional areas; schools that don’t have libraries and/or teacher-librarians; how can that be addressed?

• Dennis Jensen. In the light of ASLA following the hearings so closely, are there any statements they might wish to make?

ASLA is involved. They believe TLs can meet the four standards. Most TLs fit as highly accomplished and it provides a pathway to lead teacher, with TLs operating at the leadership level. The process needs more consultation between associations.

Resourcing DER rollouts
Difference in staffing between public and private schools. Some schools in both sectors don’’t have the staffing to manage the rollout. Because of the skillset and technical background of TLs it can tend to go here. Very difficult in small schools as it takes an inordinate amount of part-time TL time. There is some evidence in NSW of training programs.

On a positive note, ASLA members nationally have become aware of some changes happening recently e.g. staffing appointments [gp: ??]. One can assume that they may have come from the inquiry although that is not sure, as awareness of the value of the role of TL and importance of resourcing are being highlighted.

Sharon said they are looking for some leadership at a national level. KB applauded that, encourages the committee to be brave enough to make that recommendation e.g. for digital literacy and C21st learning skills. If it were to occur, that would be a world first. [gp: staffing?]

Provision of databases
JW is a member of the board of ERA. Small, rural, remote schools find it very difficult to access, even though there is an attempt to provide lower rates. Total access and equity is the issue.

Libraries and staffing for remote schools
KB noted the need for creative staffing, use of pro-rata formulas plus different models e.g. distance learning accessing a TL no matter where the student is.
Question on notice: ASLA will follow up with more examples.

JW reiterated that this an ideal opportunity at the national level to do some really exciting things. A lot of things have been rolling together in the last few weeks [such as AITSL, Nat Curric, Nat Broadband].

TLs driving literacy programs
KB emphasised that TLs work with the staff, resourcing classroom activities. That is why their work is not so visible. In addition, it would not be appropriate to promote the TL as a standalone, all specialist teachers support the teaching/learning process. SB made the interesting comment that herein lies the problem, it is because of the collaboration that the role is not viewed, not valued. JW noted that no primary school would have a TL not involved in the literacy program. SB said she understands that, but there is still a need for outstanding examples to be promoted to counter the poor understanding of the role.

Digital literacy and digital citizenship, and the national curriculum
JW observed that citizenship / safety is one narrow aspect of the literacies that are embedded in digital literacy. The national curriculum, as it is, has them embedded, but to a point where it is hard to tease them out. e.g. info lit, critical thinking, ICT, collaborative environment, problem solving. That would be a challenge to teachers who are used to seeing their state curriculum state things more explicitly. JW agreed with SB that this would be a danger for CTs applying the national curriculum without the expertise [or the time] to tease that out, looking at it superficially. It took time for a group of TLs focusing specifically on the task very recently. JW made a strong statement about the danger for Australians more broadly [gp:??]

KB recalled the role ASLA took two decades ago with the national curriculum profiles, where they pulled them apart, identified where the info lit was and created a learning matrix and twelve case studies, showing the progressive learning of the student. They have already indicated in their submission that they are willing to do that again, providing a support resource which could have dynamic digital links, in partnership with ACARA and subject associations if they were interested. It would require practitioners.

Question on notice: SB asked if ASLA would do some costings on this.

There was discussion of the need for personal development programs to complement digital citizenship. ASLA concluded with a general statement [see transcript when available].

Listen to the seventh Inquiry hearing with ASLA as the witness

22 06 2010

Thursday 24th June will see another hearing into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Canberra.
The Inquiry Committee will be calling ASLA again at 9:35 am.
It will be broadcast online at

From the House Committee media release:
The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) will appear before the House of Representatives Education Committee at a public hearing tomorrow as part of the Committee’s inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools.
ASLA is the peak national professional association representing school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools. In its submission, ASLA highlighted the evolving nature of information and the rapid development of digital technologies as a key reason for supporting the ongoing professional development of teacher librarians

Opportunity for Action at ASLA conference

24 09 2009

The Australian School Library Association Conference next week in Perth is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves as teachers, librarians, parents, writers, and citizens to reversing the decline of school libraries in this country.

The Australian School Libraries Research Project (ASLRP) by ALIA, ASLA and Edith Cowan University, provides us initial “snapshots” on the current state of school library services in Australia (Barbara Combes, 2008) .

What it shows is a great inequity between school library staffing and funding across Australian schools.

Budgets abysmal

The survey found that the majority of school library budgets are abysmal! Half of the government school budgets are under $5000, and one in six budgets are under $1000. In  NT schools, most of which are remote, over half have budgets under $500!

Staffing in declline

The survey showed that 35% of government school libraries have no teacher librarians.  Approximately two thirds of all schools have either no teacher librarian or less than one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) working in their school library. After the Northern Territory (5%), Tasmania (50%), Western Australia (almost 60%) and Victoria (65%) have the lowest number of TLs employed K-12 across all sectors. Instead there are high numbers of library technicians in Tasmania and Victoria and library officers in Western Australia.

Previous state surveys illustrate the downward slide. A discussion paper from the State Library of Tasmania noted a decline of nearly fifty per cent in the number of teacher librarians in Tasmanian schools in the period 1996-2000. (“Enhancing Student Outcomes with Improved Information Services and Provisioning”, 2000).

A position paper by the AEU Tasmanian Branch noted in 2000 that teacher aides were increasingly replacing teacher librarians, with one third of schools surveyed not having professional TLs. (“Leading the way: The changing role of the teacher librarian”). The ASLRP survey now places this at almost 50%.

While the ASLRP survey shows Victoria employs TLs in 65% of its schools, figures for Melbourne metropolitan primary schools may be even lower.   Reynolds and Carroll in 2001 found  that only 13% of primary schools had teacher librarians. (“Where have all the teacher librarians gone?” Access May 2001)

In South Australia in 2002, apart from those very small schools with no teacher librarian entitlement, a third of school libraries around the state were understaffed and/or staffed with unqualified personnel (Spence, “Survey highlights major problems with library staffing”, AEU Journal, 4 December 2002).

As Michelle Lonsdale stated in 2003, the “devolution of financial management to schools means that funding for school libraries relies on the resource allocation priorities established by the school community, which might or might not place a high priority on the need for a well-staffed library system.”  (Impact of school libraries on student achievement, ACER). There is pressure in all state departments of education for this devolution, flexibility and choice in school staffing. Teacher librarians, where they have existed, are often being “cashed in” for classroom or other specialist teachers, or pushed increasingly into the classroom themselves.

In 1988, the Australian Library Summit deplored the lack of statistics relating to school library services. There is still no systematically collected national data. ALIA and ASLA together with ECU have given us the beginning of those statistics to work with. The ASLRP has provided a complex set of results, with many variables yet to be analysed, but little in it paints a good picture of the state of school libraries in this country, especially government schools.

Anne Hazell stated in 1988, after the initial regression of the 1980s in school library staffing, that unless (TLs) … act as advocates for their chosen profession, it is unlikely that the profession will survive into the 21st century.”   We are well and truly on that edge.

So, here is a preview of The Hub’s conference paper, Getting the Word Out.

A match made in heaven

24 01 2008

Hubbers are pleased to see recent efforts begun by ASLA/ALIA to build an alliance with the Australian Society of Authors (ASA)  in lobbying the new federal government  for recognition of the need for quality school libraries in Australia.   Click here to read a letter to the PM from ASLA/ALIA, as well as a letter of support from the ASA (thanks to author Libby Gleeson for the original suggestion of ASA support!).

ASLA advocacy

14 12 2007

It’s great to see the updates starting to appear on the ASLA website!   Click here to find out what they are saying to our politicians. 

End of year is a crazy time.  It’s good to see through our blog stats that people are still finding time to visit us here between stocktake, chasing up outstanding resources, and organising fair and equitable distribution of televisions and DVD players for all those educational end-of-year movie sessions. Rest assured, The Hub will not be taking holidays over the summer break.

Once the school year is over, please send in more stories.  How is your budget for 2008?  Did anyone’s budget go up?  How about staffing?  So far we have only heard of budgets and staffing being reduced, again.  More Boo! Hiss!  awards for principals are underway,  but I’m a bit short on nominations for Champion principals. Surely there are a few out there?