Bookmarks for Garrett

20 09 2011

Calling all Australian supporters of school libraries.  Minister for Education, Peter Garrett, needs a reminder bookmark before Monday 10th October to remind him to respond to the school library inquiry report.   Let’s inundate his office with reminder bookmarks.  There are three to a page and are best printed on A4 borderless.  Include your name and address for best effect.  Fold each one and fix the two sides together. Get friends and colleagues to do the same and mail to

The Minister for Education, Early Childhood and Youth

PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

22 September: Breaking News in

Education Review by Natasha Egan “Teacher Librarians Step Up Campaign

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Inquiry Report Gap Analysis #3: Funding

2 06 2011

According to the Children’s Book Council of Australia survey (2010) submitted, sectors and schools vary markedly in school library funding. The average library budget for an Anglican school was $44,762; for independent schools $37,220; for Catholic schools, $20,732 and for government schools: $10,606. (36% of these were $5,000 or less. 3% were $1,000 or less.) In NT schools, most of which are remote, over half have budgets under $500 according to the 2008 Australian School Library Research Project.

Yet the issue of funding is sidelined in the School Library Inquiry Report.  ASLA had suggested “The Ministers of Education establish a formula for funding the resource collection of school libraries Australia-wide based on a minimum per-capita amount and negotiate with Governments to commit to meeting a national funding agreement for school libraries on an annual basis” (ASLA sub). This has not happened.

Since the 2008 Council of Australian Governments’ intergovernmental agreement, federal funding has been handed over to states and territories “providing them with increased flexibility” (Report p. 12).  Although school libraries in Australia virtually came into existence through federal funding for resources and training, they do not see this as their role now.

Yet grants could be given to BER libraries, for DER programs in libraries, for literacy through libraries.  There are many ways the federal government can fund school libraries, as they have in the past. At the least a much need increase in public school funding would directly affect library budgets.

While reducing the cost of online database subscriptions is recommended, the question of funding is left to

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood and Youth Affairs, discuss ways to enhance partnerships with state and territory and local levels of government to support school libraries and teacher librarians.

So it remains for us, concerned parents, citizens, educators and school library supporters to continue to press the state and federal governments for funding standards and adequate, dedicated funding.





To the Sydney Morning Herald

23 05 2011

First off the ranks to report on the Inquiry Report, the Sydney Morning Herald journos’ “hook” leaves much to be desired.  We certainly have a long way to go with some journalists!

Here is our reply:

To Dan Harrison (dharrison@smh.com.au) and Kim Arlington and the editor SMH (letters@smh.com.au),

I don’t believe your initial focus on the most trivial aspect of a year long inquiry which gathered 387 submissions and held 12 public hearings nationwide.

Thousands of Australians would have contributed. Are you intentionally dumbing down for your readers or just reinforcing stereotypes because the federal education committee has a majority of Labor MPs on it (4 to 3!). And cartoonist Cathy Wilcox should know better! Perhaps TLs should think twice about buying her books.

The two committees who put such a great effort into analyzing the contributions of hundreds of parents, authors, educators and academics here and overseas must be appalled.

At a time when the teacher librarian profession faces its demise (at least 60% of primary schools do not have teacher librarians), their leadership and e-learning skills are needed more than ever. The public, parents especially, should know what their children lose when they lose a qualified teacher librarian. With 2802 much needed new primary libraries built with BER funding, more than any other building, and with the DER and the developing National Curriculum, the specialist teaching and resourcing skills of teacher librarians have never been more vital for student learning.

You have included many salient facts from the report, but making a “hook” through emphasis on stereotype is just plain ignorance. Or is it just the inability to think critically and deeply? Perhaps you didn’t have qualified teacher librarians in your primary and secondary schooling.  As stated in the Australian Primary Principal’s submission to the inquiry, and they should know, “the Commonwealth Government should establish a program, working with states and territories and education system and sector agencies, to ensure that school libraries in Australia are the best in the world, and that they can meet the range of challenges they now face.” Now get serious, and help.

Georgia Phillips for The Hub

My School Library site for parents at

<http://myschoollibrary.wordpress.com>

Here is the “same” article from today’s edition of The Age: “Dragon Librarians Come Out Fighting” and another Fairfax paper, The Illawarra Mercury recycles the same article as “School Librarians Left on the Shelf: Report.”  The same Herald article appeared today in the Courier Mail and in the Newcastle Herald.