BC children don’t want to lose their teacher librarians

29 08 2009

I’d love to hear what our children might say in the 35% of government school libraries where students don’t have a teacher librarian?  (In Tasmania the number is close to 50% of all schools, Victoria 35%, WA 40% and the NT almost 95%! See Barbara Combes’ report on the Australian School Library Research Project.) Have these children ever had a teacher librarian? If they had they might be writing stories such as those of British Columbia students who don’t want to lose their teacher librarians.  Go to http://www.bccsl.ca/letters.htm to read some of their letters and stories which were used in April as part of packages sent to education department decision-makers as part of an ongoing campaign to fight school library funding and staffing cuts.

“…the BC Coalition for School Libraries joined with the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia (CWILL) for the press release, ‘Children and Children’s Authors Rally Behind School Librarians’.”  Children were asked to respond to the possible loss of their teacher librarians. “Some of the letters and stories were faxed to all schools in B.C., to the attention of the principal”!

What might our children say if anyone cared to ask?

(BC teacher librarians also have their say!  See the videoclip at http://schoollibraryprogram.pbworks.com/Video-Project)

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.

Those clever Canadians!

15 02 2008

The Hub gives two thumbs up to Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario.

Feb 14, 2008

MISSISSAUGA — Elementary students in Ontario are going to get extra help reading and learning in their school libraries.

Ontario will provide school boards across the province with an additional $40 million over the next four years to hire about 160 more library staff.

Research shows that students who develop solid reading skills in elementary school have a better chance at success in high school and beyond. 

“To keep Ontario moving forward, we need everyone to be at their best — and that includes our youngest students,” said Premier Dalton McGuinty.  “That means we must make sure they have all the help they need to reach their full potential.”

“We’re committed to making publicly funded education the very best education,” said Education Minister Kathleen Wynne.  “That’s why we’re funding more library staff and investing in new books and computers — so our students have the tools they need to succeed.”

A majority of students in Grades 3 and 6 are scoring 10 per cent higher in reading, writing and math tests.  Since 2004, more than a million new textbooks have been added to Ontario’s schools.

Article found here.