Should we be in despair about the status quo of TLs?

13 08 2015

The day after the tabling in Parliament of the Report of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in May 2011, these MPs gave insightful, informative and supportive speeches to open the eyes of educators and parents and urge action.  If you didn’t have time then, take time now and be renewed and inspired. Note six are still in office.

The speech of Sharon Bird, MP (Labor NSW), initial committee chair (2015 still in office)

The speech of Karen Andrews, MP (Liberal Qld), committee member and currently (2015) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science

The speech of Yvette D’Ath, MP (Labor Qld), committee member

The speech of Deborah O’Neill, MP (Labor NSW), committee member (2015 still in office)

The speech of Mike Symon, MP (Labor Vic), committee member

The speech of Alan Tudge, MP (Liberal Vic), committee member and currently (2015) Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

In addition, two members of the committee gave speeches upon tabling the report the day before:

The speech of Amanda Rishworth, MP (Labor SA), subsequent committee chair (2015 still in office)

The speech of Rowan Ramsey, MP (Liberal SA) committee member (2015 still in office)

We DO have parliamentarians who understand.

To the federal candidates

26 08 2013

After 13 hearings in major Australian capital cities in 2010 and 2011, a bi-partisan House Committee of Inquiry published its Report School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia (March 2011).

Few of its 11 Recommendations have been implemented, and none which bears upon the essential problem of the demise of a profession and its impact on declining student literacy and learning.

Of the government’s response in November 2011, crucial concerns remain unaddressed:

Still no government staffing statistics.

Reporting on the number and training of specialist staff is still to be included in My School information. As yet, no hard data has been collected by the government on the number of schools without professionally qualified teacher librarians.  The closest related data, in the 2010 report on Staffing in Australia’s Schools includes principal reporting on unfilled positions. This is meaningless when most states do not require libraries to be staffed by qualified teacher librarians and budget-constrained principals are forced to view teacher librarians as a luxury.

The question remains, how many schools do not have at least one full-time equivalent teacher librarian?

The last survey to address this question, indicated that at least a third of government schools did not (and one third of Anglican schools have two or more librarians) (Australian School Libraries Research Project, 2008). Yet the government workforce data is skewed to show only 190 unfilled positions in 2010.

This brings us to the second crucial problem.

Insufficient training places.

The federal Labor government has worked a miracle in upgrading school infrastructure.  Almost one third of Australia’s schools now have new BER libraries, 3177out of 9427 schools.  This is wonderful!

But without qualified TLs, these are woefully underutilized facilities, too often closed or used as another classroom.

Better Schools money will mean that many of those budget-restricted principals will be able to professionally staff their libraries, AND be able to resource them with up-to-date digital book collections, databases, e-magazines, library apps for smart technology, resources which qualified teacher librarians can collaboratively integrate into teaching and learning encounters.

BUT, where will principals find these qualified teacher librarians? With only three tertiary teacher librarian courses, how many new TLs can be trained? Certainly not the thousands which seem to be needed. Unfortunately, universities are being stripped of funds to finance the Gonski reforms.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul will not help our TL shortage.

So we must ask federal candidates of all parties:

  1. What will you do to collect useful government data on teacher librarian staffing? 
  2. What will you do to increase tertiary education programs to ensure every school can have a qualified teacher librarian?

The government inquiry acknowledged the work of teacher librarians in respect to eLearning, literacy and leadership in their schools.  What will you do now to see that that role is filled to support quality teachers and support our students in reading and learning?


Further information for teachers, principals and teacher educators on the role of teacher librarians in learning can be found at my website For parents at My School Library. GP


A message from the heart

12 06 2011

From South Australian, Erica Jolley, to her network of academics:

I’m passing it (see message below) on to as many as are interested in seeing Australia not following the American way. In South Australia, all students are to have ‘portals’, not into their minds and hearts, into electricity and power grids, subject to breakdown – that’s the Budget leaflet from the Minister for DECS – We know we must stay connected to the technology which is driving the way the world operates but we narrow the options, we decrease avenues for learning when we focus so solidly on one avenue for the gathering of information. It is not even real learning.

Real learning is when heart and mind take in wonder, feel, touch, taste, smell, and begin to differentiate this from that in the world away from the screen and fingers on a keyboard. I listened to what is happening with Centra on the School of the Air. So many breakdowns in communication. So much frustration for children.

Libraries, in school, and in the communities, are the ‘safety net’. With so many more students of a multi-cultural background in our public schools, the roles of libraries as ‘safety nets’, and the role of teacher librarians as assistants to the wider range of avenues for students, teachers and members of the community – parents – is vital.

We need the Federal government to support the re-establishment of courses for Teacher librarians and to protect the libraries that still exist. Once the books, non-fiction books in the case of one school, and other media materials are dispersed, if they are documented and available in a subject area – if that has happened – their role in the interconnection of avenues of discovery and learning is lost. Sound education, not just the schooling of the young through mechanical ‘portals’, broadens the horizons, helps students to think through and concentrate on complex ideas as their capacity to learn, feel and understand develops.

Equity in education will demand that we fight for a broader vision, not just force students into a different kind of sausage factory. Please, everyone, make an effort to help the Federal government to see what is the ultimate cost if libraries and teacher librarians are allowed to be lost because Principals, through the Local Empowerment Policy, can decide they are ‘redundant’ in a ‘hi-tech’ world. We need action from the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, and from the Minister for Tertiary Education, Chis Evans, as well as action in the States and Territories.

Have a look at the item Ian Purcell sent me please. See what has been happening in USA. We have a tendency in this country to wonder where something went and valuing it when it is irretrievable. The report re School Libraries and Teacher Librarians did not push for action now. We do not need more reports. We need to protect the school libraries still in existence and bring in teacher librarians where they have been lost. And training takes time.

Thank you,  Erica Jolley,

Education/Health liaison, Australian Federation of Graduate Women-SA

On 10/06/2011, at 5:09 PM, Ian Purcell wrote: Erica, I thought you might be interested this article on Libraries as Safety Nets


From Georgia Phillips, 25 May 2011

On Monday and Tuesday, politicians from both sides of the House spoke in support of the School Library Inquiry Report in Parliament. Wonderful speeches, full of understanding and support….and all because of you who signed the petition and made submissions and appeared as witnesses!!

You can find the speech by Amanda Rishworth, Labor SA (current education cttee chair), who tabled the Report, and Deputy Chair Ramsay, Liberal, SA, in  Monday’s Hansard pages 11-13.  They were alloted 10 minutes. See <>

They then referred the Report for further debate in the Main Committee.  Yesterday, 24th May,  more time was able to be alloted, and many of the original education committee members as well as current members  spoke eloquently of the plight of teacher librarians and the need for the recommendations. Here are some excerpts.

Karen Andrews, Liberal, Qld: “At a local level, I have seen the wonderful work done by teacher librarians as they work directly with students. I support their ongoing roles at school as they work directly with students. I support their ongoing roles at school and I will continue to support the schools in McPherson and especially the teachers, principals, headmasters, heads of school, students and teacher librarians.”

Alan Tudge, Liberal, Vic:”The library itself may have changed in terms of its focus and the technology and skills required; nevertheless it still has a very important place in Australia’s schools. Hopefully the recommendations arising from this inquiry will further enhance the importance of school libraries in Australia’s school systems.”

Sharon Bird, Labour, NSW: “I commend the chair, Amanda  Rishworth, the member for Kingston, for the work that has been done and all members of the committee in following up and  producing this final report. I do so in particular because the issue was originally brought to my attention as a result  of an online petition that had been running amongst teacher librarians. They were particularly concerned about the fact that in the digital age, for some reason—I think we gathered a lot of evidence that is reflected in this report about why this was happening—people were coming to the view that teacher librarians were not necessary in schools, where in fact quite the opposite could well be argued to be true.

With the depth, complexity and breadth of information available to young people today, they need an experienced navigator more than ever to assist them in assessing the source, the legitimacy and the value of information that they are accessing, in particular, online. It was something that, particularly  as a former teacher, caught my attention.”  READ HER ENTIRE SPEECH pages 105-106!!  Sharon Bird, as a former history teacher, DOES understand the issues and the need for qualified TLs.

Deborah O’Neill, Labor, NSW: “I come to this assessment of the inquiry and its report from the point of view of being a teacher myself. I have never been a librarian and I have always held  them in great esteem. The access that teacher-librarians have provided for my own children in the primary context has been a transformational learning experience…I recall, very fondly, a teacher-librarian who worked at my school during my secondary schooling….Without a framework that articulates the importance and the centrality of our teacher librarians and the work that they do, they become extremely vulnerable…There can be no possible way that it would ever be okay, not only for the students but for the teacher themselves, to put a poor teacher [into the library]…, regardless of whether they are delivering a curriculum or delivering critical digital literacy, critical thinking and critical  support for students in a teacher-librarian context inside a library. This goes to the heart of the professionalism that is required. The professionalism of the teacher librarians that I, along with my colleagues on the committee, took evidence from was absolutely outstanding. They deeply understand what a teacher librarian can bring to learning and to life outcomes for young people.”

Mike Symon, Labor, Vic: “We found that private sector schools overall greatly valued teacher librarians and used teacher librarians as a selling point to attract parents to their schools. It was a fairly simple argument that they put to us, and it came from many sources: having teacher librarians in our schools improves our results….Whereas some state systems were inclined to use teacher librarians as relief staff if a teacher was sick or could not attend class for some reason, that certainly was not the case in the evidence that we heard from the private schools. As a better qualified person than a ‘standard’ qualified teacher, if that is the right description, the teacher librarian has knowledge above and beyond, and to be put into a position where you can be called away from your job at any time to go and mind a class because someone is not available really undervalues the profession.” He included ALIA’s definition of a TL with an emphasis on information literacy.

“It was very interesting to hear that in many cases the role of a teacher librarian directly suited the role of a digital gatekeeper for information. I must say, I had not thought of that at the start of the inquiry, but by the end of the inquiry I was quite convinced that this is a new and expanded role for teacher librarians. It probably builds the case more than ever for having teacher librarians in greater numbers in as many schools as possible.”

Yvette D’Ath, Labor, Qld: “. I note the comment of the chair in the foreword of the report: The Committee was advised that Charles Sturt University’s second semester intake of students into its Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) had doubled in 2010, and, it was suggested that the publicity surrounding this inquiry may have been a factor in the increased numbers being attracted to the teacher librarian profession. If that is what this inquiry did, if it does nothing else, that is a fantastic result.”

“Recommendation 3 is: The Committee recommends that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority include statistical information about the breakdown of all specialist teachers, including teacher librarians, on the My School website.

This recommendation was made because it became clear that we do not know what specialist teachers we have in our schools. We found out in Queensland that you may have done a masters in teacher librarianship, you may be a specialist in this area, but when you register in Queensland as a teacher there is not even a category to identify yourself as a specialist in this area. That needs to be rectified. It also showed once again that we do not have consistency across the states. If we want consistent outcomes then we have to have consistency across the states on … I look forward to forwarding copies of this report out to those teacher librarians in the schools so that they can see what their effort to bring information to us has resulted in with these recommendations.”

See <> Pages 103-110

I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Symon when he states, “I certainly recommend that report for reading by the wider public and especially the education sector.” It can be found at <>

Congratulations all! Now its time to get our message to parents and other politicians!!

Georgia Phillips

Write to Peter Garrett now

18 11 2010

Amanda Rishworth, in her capacity of the new Chair of Standing Committee on Education and Employment has advised that, “Unfortunately the inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians conducted by the education and Training committee lapsed as a result of the prorogation of the 42nd Parliament.

The Education and Employment committee of the 43rd Parliament requires a referral from the Minister of the terms of reference for it to inquire and report on this matter.

I believe consideration is being given to re-open the enquiry but as I said they have to get a referral from the Minister first.”

Write to the Minister of School Education, Peter Garrett, MP, NOW.

Here is my letter submitted via the contact form at Feel free to use any of the wording below.

To the Minister of School Education, Peter Garrett, MP:

As you are no doubt aware, the previous federal education committee has this year conducted an extensive Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians which received 382 submissions from tertiary training institutions, departments of education, parents groups, unions, school library associations, library associations, principals’ associations, teachers’ associations, overseas experts, management systems providers, publishers, authors, the Children’s Book Council, university librarians, and individual parents, teachers and teacher librarians.

Hearings were held in every territory and state capital.  The time and effort which the previous committee put into this inquiry was extraordinary, coming at a crucial time to address the decline of our profession.

The inquiry was initiated by Julia Gillard when she was Education Minister.  She and her government need to see the results and recommendations of the committee now more than ever. Australian students do not receive equitable school library services, funding or staffing, across the states and territories.  Recent surveys have shown that staffing of school libraries with qualified teacher librarians varies from 100% in NSW to 13% of Victorian primary schools to 5% of schools in the NT. Too many of the 3200 new or refurbished BER libraries will not have qualified teacher librarians.

Yet, the Federal Inquiry took evidence of over 60 studies internationally confirming that dual qualified teacher librarians make a difference to student literacy and learning. Reading scores rise. Students read more.  Their writing and spelling and vocabulary improve. Academic results improve regardless of socio-economic considerations. They learn the skills of information literacy for digital and other resources.

This inquiry was partly in response to 1600 petitioners who signed a petition requesting the federal government to take a role, as it has in the past, to ensure “…. that all Australian primary and secondary students have access to a school library and a qualified teacher librarian.

As it has done in the past, the federal government is in a position to influence state school library funding and staffing. To do this, they can:

  • collect national data on school library staffing, funding, and scheduling;
  • tie funding so that states can and must adequately staff and fund school library programs and services;
  • require that literacy programs and other national curricula should explicitly recognize the central role school libraries have in student achievement, literacy attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success;
  • develop national school library standards;
  • increase teacher librarian training positions in university programs.”

This petition has now been signed by over 2720 petitioners and can be viewed at

We teachers, parents, librarians, authors and school library supporters look forward to hearing that you have requested the inquiry to be reopened and for the Report to be completed and tabled as soon as possible.

All Australian students deserve 21st century schools staffed by 21st century professionally qualified teacher librarians.

Thank you for your time and consideration,



A thank you to Committee of Inquiry MPs

18 08 2010
To the House committee members of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians:
Ms Sharon Bird MP (Chair) (Australian Labor Party, Cunningham, NSW)

Dr Dennis Jensen MP (Deputy Chair) (Liberal Party of Australia, Tangney, WA)

Ms Julie Collins MP (Australian Labor Party, Franklin, TAS)

Mrs Yvette D’Ath MP (Australian Labor Party, Petrie, QLD)

Mr Steve Irons MP (Liberal Party of Australia, Swan, WA)

Mr Robert Oakeshott MP (Independent, Lyne, NSW)

Mr Sid Sidebottom MP (Australian Labor Party, Braddon, TAS)

The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP (Liberal Party of Australia, Murray VIC)

Mr Mike Symon MP (Australian Labor Party, Deakin, VIC)

Mr Tony Zappia MP (Australian Labor Party, Makin, SA)

Somehow you have found the energy and the will to read the hundreds of submissions, travel to every state and territory, ask the hard questions and critically analyze the information and begin to form understanding and judgements.  In three short months you have seen into the heart of a decline in our profession which has taken decades.  You have looked for truth and for facts and for answers. We thank you for your commitment to education and learning.

We look forward to your report.  But even with no report, we thank you.

The media knows about TEACHER librarians, now! (See the long list of articles in the right hand column!) More principals are starting to look at the research. Parents are asking why their school doesn’t have a TL.  Universities are looking at how to extend their programs. And politicians are starting to understand what can be done at all levels to improve student literacy and learning through libraries. We have a long way to go, but it is a start.

We wish you every success in your campaign and sincerely hope that the committee will be able to finish its valuable and extensive work. And that JULIA GILLARD who requested the inquiry will be there to act upon its recommendations.

Thank you again on behalf of The Hub and Australian teacher librarians and students.

Do we need federal standards?!! Do we ever!: The Brisbane Hearing

6 07 2010

Brisbane Hearing 6 July 2010 for the Australian House of Representatives Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians
Parliament House, Brisbane

The following are draft notes which should be checked against the transcript when it is released.
Committee members in attendance included: Sharon Bird, Dr. Dennis Jensen, Mike Symon and Yvette D’Ath (Qld MP).

A repeated question from the committee was “Do we need Federal standards?”
The answer needs to be a resounding YES! Principals need a reference in this age of devolved staffing. They need a standards reference, with the same standards for primary and secondary, though different emphasis. They need a role statement reference. And they need a research clearinghouse for reference.

Qld DET “Workforce Futures” witness, Gary Francis, needs this research also. He is currently collecting data/evidence for departmental decision-making. Gary Francis will be “interrogating the evidence” of this inquiry. He needs to know why all teachers can not be expert “knowledge workers” and teachers of IL and selectors of quality literacy resources; why quality teachers need the support of the TL knowledge navigator and literacy and IL expert.

As Dr. Jensen stated, there almost seems to be a policy in state DETs to run down the role of the teacher librarian. SLAQ admitted that TLs could be part of the problem in not promoting their role, although with some 430 members they have an excellent opportunity to promote the TL role through their association. Marj Kirkland, CBCA President, stated that some regional directors are openly speaking out against having teacher librarians!

And today’s hearing brought out the need for the Australian evidence: support for research linking quality school libraries and reading and academic achievement.

The equity issue between states and sectors again emerged. Too many students have NO access to quality school libraries and qualified teacher librarians, especially in remote regions. The private schools on the Gold Coast all have teacher librarians, while only 50% of government schools do.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission, represented by Adrian Miller and Terry Creagh, laid Catholic school facts on the table in a matter-of-fact way, outlining staffing levels and shortfalls and being quite open about problems with staffing geographically isolated and small schools. Yet 85% of the 288 Catholic schools in Qld are staffed by a qualified Teacher-Librarian, though only 15% of these are FTE.

The Brisbane Catholic Education’s scholarship scheme to attract more teacher-librarians is an initiative bringing younger TLs into the profession and fill staffing gaps. During the past two years, dozens of Catholic teachers have trained as TLs under this scheme. Jane Connolly, Professional Officer Executive Support and Mary Tsourounakis spoke for BCEO.

QUT is benefiting from this program, with TL program numbers almost doubling since 2007-8 to 110 in the course this year. Perhaps the DER and BER programs are also having an effect. Qld DET also had a sponsorship program at one time for half the TL Masters course.

SB: There is a problem with not having anyone to supervise pracs! “Hopefully we can do something about that.” QUT agreed that special programs were needed to catch up with training, with the Commonwealth supporting places at universities and employers recognizing the need for dual qualifications, and support with subsidies and leave.

The witnesses for Queensland University of Technology were Mandy Lupton, Unit Coordinator/Lecturer, Master of Education (Teacher-Librarianship) and Dr Hilary Hughes, Coordinator, Master of Education (Teacher-Librarianship).

Brisbane Catholic Education tabled a TL role statement, for which it was commended by Dr. Jensen, while Qld DET could only refer to a description of physical duties of TLs in relation to OH&S and work cover! Sharon Bird asked how many principals would know of the Learning for the Future standards and Standards of TL Excellence? Great laughter from the gallery!! [GP note: Why can’t every state professional association send at least the latter to every school via systemic school leaders email networks? Or through Principals Associations?]

SB asked why the Catholic system has taken such a positive stand in sponsoring TL training.

The reply from Jane Connolly was that TLs are REQUIRED for the best possible outcomes for students! They are needed for curriculum leadership, IT skills, and literacy skills.

SB asked about TLs having a leadership role although rarely part of executive.

Kate Seed from QTU said they are not classed in Qld DET as head of a service, but as teachers. Teachers of literacy and numeracy are recommended to be part of the executive, so the same could certainly be done for TLs.

Central and regional school library advisors were disbanded around 1990. No support service is left although E-Learning is running an online Digital Pedagogy Licencing course and the remaining Library Service (combined from TESOL, professional and in-service libraries) tries to do what it can. Corporate knowledge has been lost. In the past advisors would always see the principal first when visiting a school, so affording an opportunity for sharing knowledge.

QUT was left considering what it could do beyond its 4th year Stepping Out program to initiate pre-service teachers into the wonders of IL and collaboration with TLs. Mandy said they would have to take this back to education lecturers.

The Qld Teachers Union was represented by Kate Seed, Industrial Advocate, and Margaret Kittson, Chair of the QTU TL Cttee and TL Holland Park State School. Kate and Margaret spoke about the current procedures regarding flexible school staffing under workplace reform agreements. While QTU has tried to uphold its TL policies regarding non-contact time, CPPT and flexible scheduling in primary and special schools and Section 6 of the State Teachers Award which highlights the dual focus of the TL role, many principals choose to ignore these agreements. Strong recommendations are needed from this committee. If there are national standards then negotiations will have to take place with each industrial body.

The question of tied funding arose. Kate stated that they are already doing this with the National Partnership Agreements, so tied funding should be very possible.

The last session was the Qld Department of Education and Training represented by Laurie Campbell, E-Learning, Gary Francis, Director, Workforce Futures and Julie-Ann McCullough.

This session was in stark contrast to the previous session with BCE and QCEC. Two of the Ed Qld representatives side stepped, refused to reveal information, said they did not know the answers to questions (such as the number of TLs in their schools) etc. Ed Qld referred only to TLs’ teacher qualifications and was of the view that every teacher should have information literacy skills. Where particular students were missing essential skills in their mapped profiles, individual interventions would be made. The view was expressed that every teacher was a “knowledge worker” and that the department felt that it was important for principals to be able to have the flexibility to tailor things to suit local needs. Sharon made the point that as she sees it it is just too big a job for principals to get their heads around everything.

Marj Kirkland, Pres of the Children’s Book Council of Australia and TL, Aquinas College, and Megan Daley, VP CBCA and TL St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School tabled a supplementary submission which emphasized the differences between sectors and highlighted the need for funding and staffing in school libraries. In summary it stated:

Statistics from the March 2010 national survey by the Children’s Book Council of Australia:

624 respondents to survey.


127 schools indicated that they had received $500,000 or more in BER funding for their library; 85 of those received over $1,000,000.

Of these 127 schools, almost one in five (18%) do not have a qualified teacher-librarian in their library. In fact, the figures may be worse than that, as some libraries may be ‘out of contact’.

The average library budget of these BER libraries was $16,895.
Over 65% of BER school library budgets were $10,000 or less.
30% of BER school library budgets were $5,000 or less.


Anglican Schools:
Average Library Budget: $44,762.
80% of Anglican school library budgets are greater or equal to $20,000.
5 stated that their budgets are unknown. One commented: “We do not have a budget. We spend until told to stop.”

Independent Schools:
Average Library Budget: $37,220.
74% of Independent school budgets are greater or equal to $20,000.
6% of those schools had library budgets of over $100,000.

Catholic Schools:
Average Library Budget: $20,732.
39% of Catholic school library budgets were greater or equal to $20,000.
Less than 1% were $50,000 or greater.
43% were $10,000 or less. 22% were $5,000 or less.

Government Schools:
Average Library Budget: $10,606.
13% of government school library budgets were greater or equal to $20,000.
Only 2 (.5%) of the 375 schools had a budget exceeding $50,000.
66% had a library budget of $10,000 or below. 36% were $5,000 or less. 3% were $1,000 or less.

Marj referred to recent studies which show that information literacy is decreasing in students entering tertiary studies and critical thinking is in decline. The federal government needs to lead on IL and digital literacy and define the TL role in same.*

The question of national negotiation of database subscriptions came up again, which would be especially good for primary.

Chris Kahl, Pres of the School Library Association of Queensland Inc and Robbie Rentz, Pres, Brisbane Subcommittee of SLAQ and TL Marist College, Ashgrove offered a supplementary sub of two case studies of primary and secondary schools and a variety of programs from around Qld in different sectors.

The cmttee questioned both groups about the assertion of DETs that all teachers should/can teach IL. The consensus, including SB, was that teachers are the general practioners and TLs are the much needed expert specialists.

SB: Raised the fact, as she did in Darwin, that DEEWR has not referenced any of the research on libraries and literacy.

The need for Australian research was emphasized.

Margaret Spillman, TL Mackay West School, and Kate Balderson, Library Assnt, Mackay City Council Library Service, discussed their program Productive Partnerships-Learning for Life. This cost-neutral collaboration between the primary school and the public library has won outstanding awards, but the reason it exists is so that the school library can still offer vital services even though their budget hasn’t changed in 15 years! The Council Library, in turn, registers new borrowers in Year One of their schooling!

Queensland schools staff teacher librarians, but they do not have to be placed in the library!! They can be put on classes. There are now many schools without TLs in the library, including seven high schools on the Gold Coast.

Sunshine Coast Teacher-Librarian Network Group was represented by Graeme Smith, TL, and Kylie Downey, TL Meridan State College.

Sheryl Gwyther, author behind the Saving Aussie Books Re-visited Campaign, spoke to her submission on the vital need for quality school libraries and teacher librarians in promoting children’s literature and literacy. The school workshops they organize and their contribution to Educational and Public Lending Right royalties are significant in supporting Australian childrens writers and illustrators.

The above individuals joined the committee in considering the value of school library staffing, funding, and scheduling statistics in the MySchool website [GP: YES!] and the meaning of the Deep Web [the major part of the web, some say 500 times the size, which isn’t searchable from ordinary search engines ]

They also responded to questions about the perception that IT specialists can replace TLs (Sheryl: not their literacy role!), the PD role of TLs in keeping up with new resources and information tools (Graeme), schools being built without libraries (Kylie described a Sunshine Coast high school which tried this until they realized their students were disadvantaged, and built a library).

Margaret spoke about a Torres Strait Island school where books are being thrown out of a school library to be replaced by e-books, without consideration of IT availability and maintenance problems!

Sheryl spoke about the need to educate parents and the community and politicians in what is being lost.

The Softlink International Chief Operating Officer, Nathan Godfrey, said that 40% of Australian schools have a Softlink automated Library Management System. Yet NSW DET is holding back on upgrading to web-based systems, now a standard. Connectivity and security policies seem to be the issue. Other new key directions are Web 2.0 applications for interaction with students and books, Online Learning Portals for direct communication and Data Based Tools for analyzing and reporting. Their new GPS tool can be used to analyze reading patterns, for example, and validate against NAPLAN results.

In fact, Softlink has done this with a survey of 500 schools matching NAPLAN results to funding and staffing of the library!??!!
SB asked for the breakdown – and so does The HUB!!
What a day!!

* Greenfield, P.M. 2010 ‘Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?’, Connections, SCIS, Issue 73

University College London (UCL) CIBER group.(2008) Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. London: University College London. CIBER Briefing paper; 9. h

Notes on the Darwin Hearing 5 July

4 07 2010

The committee again demonstrated their deepening understanding, and the NT DET could be in for some just-in-time learning 🙂

Committee present included Sharon Bird (SB), Dr. Dennis Jensen (DJ) and Mike Symon (MS).


Note: I just caught the end of the committee’s interviews of individual TLs. These included Mary Denniss from Casuarina Senior College, Kay? From Kormilda College, and Sue from ? and Robin. (Help appreciated).

The TLs made points about the lack of qualified staffing in most NT school libraries, the demise of advisory services and the poor collections in many schools. Since c. 1990, TLs are no longer staffed separately in NT government schools so are optional. Up to 30 new BER libraries will be in remote schools without qualified staffing. There are some training programs for indigenous community libraries. A country mobile library delivery service is now internet based.

There are no training programs for TLs in the NT, though there has been a library technician’s course. In the past there was a 3 month training program, a BA program? at Charles Darwin University in teacher librarianship and an active professional school library association, SLANT, to run PD. Courses are now done through Distance Ed, externally, if at all.

Kormilda College (Anglican and Methodist) has 2 qualified TLs, 2 library technicians (LTs) and a trainee LT. With 60 computers in the library, Homework Help before and after school and a $70,000/year budget which doesn’t include IT, it serves 1000 students, 30% of whom are indigenous. It also runs the International Baccalaureate.

It is quite a contrast with Casuarina Senior College whose budget has been cut by 40% from $36,000 to $20,000 which includes $8000 for online databases without any DET subsidies. Mary D stated that more resources were needed, not more computers, especially with inadequate technical support.

Mary D’s school lost one of their 2 TLs 18 months ago when the school staffing formula became based on 80% attendance and another classroom teacher was required.

The point was made that without staffing requirements, with no financial resources for principals to staff and without recognition of dual qualifications, there is no incentive to train as a TL. So no supply. [GP:A self-fulfilling prophecy!]

Mary felt that given incentives, teachers would certainly come to 21st century TLship, a vibrant profession.

SB commented on the concern with TLs not being on senior management teams, especially for the formulation of school policies on such things as cyber bullying and cyber safety and plagiarism.

Sue: Teachers now becoming school leaders have come from schools with no TLs in them since the 1990s. So leadership PD is especially needed.
And libraries are especially needed for the disadvantaged who don’t have the IT and books in their homes. Big equity issue here.

Time was running short, but the TLs were insistent on making further points [GP: the first time someone was asking AND listening?]

SB assured them that the committee has heard lots of evidence such as theirs from all over the country, though it is probably more critical in the NT. And again asked for their “vibrant” stories of success to illustrate the final report. The passion and desperation of the TLs was obvious.

Susie Erratt, Northern Territory Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented

As part of core requirement: a school library is essential – should not be at the discretion of the school principal. As a physical place, it is needed, too, as a refuge. TLs are instrumental in supporting reluctant and underachieving, often male, readers, however gifted, and in extending the gifted. A new Palmerston school being built without a library is unthinkable.

SB: Clearly international research shows that libraries make a difference, yet DEEWR had no mention of libraries in its literacy programs.

Susie: Clearly TLs are needed to select and promote resources to improve literacy, esp with indigenous kids. And where do all those donated commemorative books end up without TLs to organize and circulate them?

DJ: Not all books are online. A reader needs the physical touch of a book.

MS: Are standards needed?

Susie: Absolutely, for libraries and their staffing. And not left in the hands of principals.

SB: It has been great to hear from a parent. Perhaps many have not realized what has been happening.

Northern Territory Department of Education and Training

Mr Alan Green: director – early childhood, curriculum services.
Heather West: director of school operations

Green: There seems to be a perception that there are no TLs. Every school has strategies in place to manage resources for learning and to teach information literacy.
The new Palmerston school has two campuses, the primary school has resource places/pods and the middle school has a library. Probably management systems will be organized from there

SB: OK, can you give us an ideas of your modern view of the library in schools?

Green: Access to texts and literature and IT will be provided.

SB: As a teacher, I relied on the expertise of the TL in selecting resources. How are you managing this issue?

Green: “It’s a context related answer.” Remote school principals can’t be expected to have TLs. We train ancillaries or put in a teacher. Senior secondary are different. Their campuses have “trained staff”. Eg Darwin HS has a TL and 2 F/T LTs for 1000 students. Maintaining a pool of TLs is a challenge. There are no local courses. Charles Darwin University isn’t even training enough teachers. They must be recruited from elsewhere.

SB: How are 1 day/week TLs supported, if a principal does want one?

Green: No designated support structure. I have only been here two years so don’t know about the past. There are informal networks, online support. TLs could have this. REACT people can talk online.

Heather: The NT Library Service supports schools.
SB: National Curriculum has very specific requirements for Info Lit. TLs best placed to support teachers in this.

Green: Hopes that Tasmania is right when it says every teacher will do this.

SB: A big difference in having foundations in teaching and an expertise in something. As a teacher, I needed expert support. Who will be the experts in the area of Information Literacy?

Green: NT will restructure the way their curriculum programs are run. In time there will be experts in this. At drawing board stage.

SB: Devolution dismantled many support and expert mechanisms in NSW.

DJ: Grave concerns about management of resources in a pod system.

Green: There will be a resource management in place but couldn’t say what it would look like. Would need a model describing the person to replace a TL.. Selection has always involved consensus.

DJ: Kids need to learn how to access and validate sources. Teachers are learning from TLs how to do this, unless it’s ok for everyone to use Wikipedia.

Green: TLs “have served a significant function in the learning cycle of kids” but it is a challenge to place a trained person in every school. National Curriculum gives opportunity to explore the way we embed Info Lit in curriculum. Classroom teachers do teach discernment of information. Our challenge is to skill up teachers. [GP: There is an obvious dissonance in senior management understanding of the modern TL professional and the TL of old from their own experience!!]

SB: There is a limit to what you can expect of teachers’ work plate.

DJ: In some current advertisements, it is stated that TL is desired but not required in new jobs. Qualifications are being driven down. Teachers won’t do TL courses if no jobs require the qualifications. Will there be a career path or not?

MS: Any thought to set up a TL course in NT?

Green: Not in the 2 years I have been here. There are opportunities to assist teachers in further training. If it is a requirement to have TL qual, yes, teachers would probably put up their hand to do it.

MS: Staffing of BER libraries?

Green: Pretty confident they will be staffed: some with teachers, LTs, or teacher in training. Time lag issue. Points of leverage around rethinking TLs is the national curriculum. Number of new libraries is significant. In terms of planning not significant at this time but dialogue with principals in future. Not in scope for Dept to encourage Charles Darwin Uni to set up courses.
Senior secondary libraries – staffing is eclectic. challenge to set a standard about how to run a library and run literacy programs

MS: How many qualified TLs in NT?

Heather West: Around 22 TLs (or called TLs) across all sectors of school (not just public schools) – 10%

SB: NAPLAN agenda. International research on literacy: – The outperforming schools in this inquiry that do well in literacy have great school libraries and TLs in executive positions. Do you consider the research that is being done in making decisions?

Green: Rich literacy program implies school has a library. He is not familiar with the research. Would like to see it to see if these schools have a strong literacy program driving this or the library program drives it. International research is not known to him.

SB: You aren’t alone in that or as a sector.

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].

DEEWR interrogated by House Cttee

16 06 2010

Witnesses in today’s Canberra hearing were Dr. Evan Arthur and Margaret Banks from the federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Committee of Inquiry members included chair Sharon Bird (NSW), Dr. Sharman Stone (Vic), Mike Symon (Vic), Yvette D’Ath (Qld), Tony Zappia (SA) and Sid Sidebottom (Tasmania).

I really felt that the two groups were not quite on the same wavelength. Sharon had to keep calling them back to the issues of teacher librarianship and libraries. The witnesses talked, instead, about the government’s agendas in BER, DER, NPA and Nat’l Curriculum in broadly political terms.

Sharon Bird really tried hard, as did Sharman Stone, to highlight the lack of NP literacy programs related to libraries, the need for specific standards in teaching related to TLs, the need for IL (Sharon didn’t call it that specifically) as well as ICT pre-service training of teachers, and the need for leadership PD to incorporate role of the TL. Sharon Bird indicated it is an opportune time to see that leaders get training in the role of TLs, as part of the School Leadership Standards being developed. Margaret Banks agreed.

Stone tried to discover if any consideration was given to staffing the new BER libraries but got no real answer, other than that economic stimulus was paramount. Mike Symon’s question on value for $$ with these libraries was taken on notice.

As a new survey is currently being done on school staffing supply and demand, some sense was sought of whether the staffing of school libraries was being examined. The answer wasn’t clear to me. In the survey four years ago, principals had indicated a shortage of some 400 teacher librarians [but what does that really mean? ASLA is saying we need about 3000 TLs!) [Australian Secondary Principals certainly see a reduced supply of TLs.] It would be good if the qualifications of library staffing were included in the survey. Arthur seemed to think MySchool couldn’t do this, a school’s own web site should do this. Sharon reiterated that this is information which parents would want to know along with other MySchool data.

Arthur seemed to think there was evidence to support locally based decision making over centralized decision making (in relation to non-appt of TLs in many schools). I haven’t seen anything convincing myself – one study. He certainly hadn’t considered the evidence placing TLs strongly in improving student achievement.

Standards of excellence for teachers are still being developed and submissions being collated to go to the Australian Institute for Teacher and School Leadership. These rewritten standards will go to MCEECDYA by the end of October and will inform PD, teacher registration, pre-service courses and accreditation processes.

ASLA and ALIA are helping with exemplars for TL practice, but the fact that we already have our professional standards wasn’t mentioned nor was inclusion of IL knowledge, skills and practice in teaching standards. Issues of quality assurance in libraries was skirted around by Margaret. The actual accreditation process for teachers is being developed within jurisdictions, not by the federal govt. The idea of inspectors came up.

Bird tried to ask about cooperative database subscription through NLA, but Aruthur didn’t seem to understand. He talked instead about copyright (a committee he has chaired) and “federated identity management” so teachers could access databases such as TaLe even though in another state.

The problem of getting teachers to remote and low SES schools was explained rather extensively by Banks. Bird had to call the discussion back to the terms of reference.

Dr. Stone wanted to know if teacher librarians are driving literacy initiatives. Banks suggested that a recent literacy forum and the building of an evidence base might help answer this. Sharon Bird asked for this evidence.

I think it was Sharon Bird who said knowledge of IL and school libraries needs to be in the teacher accreditation standards [or was it just my own scribble???].

Lastly pathways into teacher librarianship studies were discussed. One avenue might be through ICT and information subjects which could be applied to graduate teacher librarian courses.

All in all, I felt the committee and DEEWR need to extend their communication, and so did Sharon Bird, as she suggested they might be called back at the end of the hearings.

Canberra Hearing broadcast Thursday 3 June

1 06 2010

The Canberra hearings for our Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians are spread over many days during the House Education Committee’s usual meeting time while Parliament is sitting, so it’s great they are doing podcasts for us to  ”virtually” attend. The next one is tomorrow,  Thursday, 3 June 2010, starting at 9:30 am  Where:  Committee Room 1R5, Parliament House, Canberra

Log into the live Webcast:  (Audio only)  on

Subsequent hearings in Canberra will be:
  • Thursday 17 June 2010, 9.30am – 11.00am
  • Thursday 24 June 2010, 9.30am – 11.00am
  • Hopefully we will also be able to listen in to those.

  • 27 May 2010 was also webcast and previous hearings are now available as transcripts on the Inquiry site.  With all these aids, we can track the hearings very well. And we can read all the public submissions on the Inquiry’s website.