A most prestigious and coveted award

10 12 2007

The Hub Advocate of the Month award mentioned previously was, believe it or not, invented at the same time I typed the very words. But now it’s official!  Each month we will announce the winner of this most prestigious and coveted award, for promotion of teacher librarians and/or school libraries to the public. 

December is going to be tough.  Initially, Sharon McGuinness looked a likely winner, for her letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, but now she has some competition from author Libby Gleeson and Sarah Mayor Cox, lecturer at the School of Education, La Trobe University, for their calls to Radio National’s “Life Matters” programme, discussing children’s books. After what seemed an eternity of discussing children and reading (it was actually about 39 minutes) FINALLY we rated a mention from Libby Gleeson.

 “…nobody has mentioned the teacher librarians, and it’s not just the people in the bookshops and the public libraries, as good as they are, it’s also the person in the school who has specialist training in this area who knows the kids well because they’re dealing with them regularly, and I think it’s just tragic that in some states in the country, the teacher librarian is disappearing, and if government is serious about literacy levels and so on, then they should be investing more money into teachers who have library training”.

This was followed up minutes later by a call from Sarah Mayor Cox.

“…Libby really hit the nail on the head, it’s all about having mediating adults in the lives of children and for school children they are librarians and I was thrilled to hear that…..all these kids were going to get new computers but part of my heart sank and  I thought, “Julia, give every school a trained teacher librarian and……..Australia will shoot to the head of the….world league tables in literacy levels”.”

Richard Aedy  “really?  you think that will make a massive difference?”

Sarah Mayor Cox “Absolutely, the research shows it….”

Soon after, Sarah commented on the recent drop in our OECD literacy rating.

“In Australia,we used to lead the world in terms of literacy, Victoria especially, and the funding has just not been there and if you don’t put money into infrastructure…..I’ve just heard the most shocking stories of schools saying we don’t need libraries.  A recent educational architect who has got a huge tender in Australia telling librarians, “kids don’t need libraries becuase they don’t read books anymore” Now how did he get the job?  That’s frightening.”

It certainly is. 

You can listen to the entire 55 minute segment here.  I have always loved how Agnes Neiwenhuizen speaks (and writes) about children and books and reading, but once again I was disappointed that teacher librarians did not rate a mention from her, except to comment on Sarah Mayor Cox’s “absolutely fabulous idea” of putting a librarian into every school.  

I believe the actual suggestion was to put TEACHER librarians into every school.