Dear candidate/local member

18 03 2012

Could we ask you to please have a closer look at the current LP and ALP policies on devil-ution in school staffing and budgeting?

Among other negative repercussions, in Australia it has resulted in the loss of separately staffed teacher librarians in our nations schools, primary and secondary.

Without adequate funds, principals have been forced to cash in specialist positions to ensure classroom teacher staffing. This has been going on since Kennett led the way in Victoria, where now only 13% of primary schools have teacher librarians. Tasmania followed suit with school autonomy and now only has 29 qualified teacher librarians in 125 K-10 schools (23%).  The Northern Territory has 13 qualified teacher librarians in 151 government schools.  New South Wales and Queensland are now threatened with the disease of “independent” and “locally empowered” public schools.

Australia is now in the embarrassing position of having 46% of our adult population unable to cope with day to day literacy needs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Core Skills for Business (DEEWR, 2008) has stated “this can create problems in the workplace that prevent a business from reaching its full potential….OECD research has revealed that raising a country’s adult literacy by just 1 per cent leads to a rise in productivity of 2.5 per cent and a 1.5 per cent increase in GDP.”

Teacher librarians improve literacy.  They promote the love of reading. build literacy skills (including spelling, grammar, vocabulary and writing skills!) which are a key to the digital age and raise NAPLAN literacy scores.  Over 60 studies have demonstrated this.  No research has demonstrated that school based management improves student learning outcomes.  It does, however, devolve responsibility and save government spending.

In this National Year of Reading, we ask you to consider instead the long term financial cost of having a nation of non-readers, students disadvantaged by not having the professional knowledge and passion for reading of qualified teacher librarians.

If you wish to have further information on any of these issues, please don’t hesitate in contacting us. We trust you will act in the best interest of our nation’s students and an informed democratic society.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

School library budgets on the decrease – so are literacy levels

20 06 2011

Media Release from Softlink

Brisbane, June 21, 2011 

Findings from Softlink’s 2011 Australian School Library Survey revealed school library budgets are under threat and creating concern within the school community in relation to library resourcing, library staff development and literacy outcomes.

As the largest supplier of School Library Management Systems in Australia, Softlink’s survey focused on school library budgets, staffing levels, and how these factors related to student literacy levels. Over 1,200 Australian schools participated in the study.

The survey revealed four out of five Australian school libraries are struggling to cope with decreasing budgets, despite increasing demands to improve literacy outcomes and cope with digital resources.

Results indicate 28% of school libraries received budget cuts, with 16% of school library budgets experiencing more than a 10% decrease. Out of the of the schools which responded to the survey, 4 out of 5 school library budgets decreased from the prior year.

Mr. Nathan Godfrey, Softlink’s Chief Operating Officer, is concerned that school libraries and librarians are not receiving adequate support on both political and local agendas.

“The role of the librarian is rapidly evolving, due to increasing reliance on technology. Schools need to ensure that library resources are updated and relevant for students. Unfortunately, it seems school libraries are expected to do this on a diminishing library budget,” Mr. Godfrey said.

A report produced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment titled School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia, noted a clear correlation between school libraries, teacher librarians, and student achievement, and confirmed this was not widely acknowledged.

“This finding is very important, for it has officially acknowledged what we in the industry have understood for a long time. If you have a good school library with qualified library staff and adequate resources, then this will be shown as a positive result in regards to literacy levels for students,” said Mr. Godfrey.

“It would be beneficial for the school community to understand these findings and acknowledge that the school library is in fact, central to student learning.”

Softlink aims to continue their research into Australian school library resourcing and school literacy levels each year, to help in highlighting the importance of school libraries and the library staff who manage these valuable resources.

To download the Report on Softlink’s School Library Survey Findings, visit 

Karen Gear

Marketing Manager 

p: 07 3124 6111 e: w:

Poverty the problem

17 03 2011

Stephen Krashen says take the money from all that testing and put it into access to books for kids in low socio-economic areas.  Not teachers and their teaching, not schools, not teacher education but poverty is the real cause of illiteracy. Kids from families with higher incomes have books.  Access to books encourages reading.  Lots of reading helps writing, spelling, grammar, and overall academic achievement.

The solution to kids with poor reading skills? Not decoding instruction, but access to books through school and public libraries.  As Stephen has said in the recent YSL Advocacy conference, “When students are hungry, have serious health problems, and have not read much because of the absence of books in their environment, all the determination, hard work and inspired teaching in the world will be of little use.”

Read more of Stephen Krashen’s articles on his website.  Listen to him on YouTube.  Literacy needs libraries!

Support Indigenous Literacy in NT schools by staffing them with TLs

31 08 2009

It can’t hurt Indigenous Literacy Day that they have the Prime Minister’s wife as a patron.  I wonder if she knows how poorly off school libraries are in the NT?

95% of NT schools have NO school librarians!  which may go a long way towards explaining illiteracy.

Most schools in the NT have budget of less than $1000 per year for their libraries.

School library collections in NT remote schools (the majority) do not have a large range of resources often used to develop pre-reading skills such as  big books, games, puzzles, posters and charts. Students in these schools do not have access to magazines, maps,  or newspapers which are especially useful for reluctant readers (often boys) and teenage readers.

Nearly half the schools in the NT do not have access to traditional learning technologies such as videos, DVDs, CDs and CD-ROMs.

So is it any wonder that we must try to do something to help indigenous students to learn to read?

Our own local teacher librarians group did its bit by purchasing donated books of local children’s literature reviewer, Dr. Kerry White (The Source).  The book sale that kicked off at the Illawarra School Librarians Association meeting on 2 July at Wollongong Public School finished with almost $2000 raised for the Indigenous Literacy Project,

We can also help by supporting our colleagues in the NT in lobbying federal members regarding staffing and resourcing of school libraries there.  They have written to their local minister of education:

The Australian School Libraries Association: Northern Territory Branch (ASLA NT) wishes to bring to your attention the growing trend towards the removal of teacher librarian positions in many schools in the Northern Territory.  We are very concerned about the negative impact this trend will have on student learning.

Let’s support them with a message to our local federal members to let them know there are many ways we can support indigenous literacy. The most significant one would be by resourcing quality school libraries staffed by certified teacher librarians.

Tell them that studies in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK have provided strong evidence that school libraries with certified teacher librarians can have a positive impact on student literacy and learning (Jones 2007, Lance 2000, 2002, etc., Small 2008, Todd 2003, and others). These are some of the findings: Student reading scores increase. Students read more. Students say they enjoy reading more. Students are provided with “materials that present more diverse points of view and that better support the curriculum.” Students score higher in (US) English Language Arts tests. Students have increased cultural identity. Collections of print and digital resources to support teaching and learning are more dynamic. Students value teacher librarians as teachers, when they are helped to become independent critical information seekers. (Further reading at

Indigenous Literacy Day?

A good day to write a letter!!  Perhaps project manager, Karen Williams would also forward a letter to patron Therese Rein (I don’t suppose anyone would have her email address?).  Perhaps Ms Rein could gain someone’s ear to support our colleagues in the Northern Territory in making sure every school has a well-resourced library and a teacher librarian to support indigenous literacy.




6 08 2009

Some examples of submissions which have been made to government bodies regarding school libraries.

The Submission from the School Library Association of South Australia to the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, 2005

Submission to the 2020 Summit on behalf of The Hub, 2008.

Submission by SLASA to the National Enquiry into Teacher Education, 2005.

Submission from NSWTF re joint use libraries to the Committee on Public Libraries, 1980’s

Submission from ALIA to the National Enquiry into Rural and Remote Education, 1999

Submission by Sharon McGuinness to the ALIA Workforce Summit 2008.

Submission by the Council of School Library Associations of South Australia to the Senate Inquiry into the Role of Libraries in the Online Environment, 2001.  Submission from School Library Association of Queensland (sub 97) to same.  Submission by ASLA (Sub60) to same.  Sub from WACSSO to same .  All at

Are there others we should know about?

Do we want something from the budget?? You bet!

28 04 2009

post from G Phillips


Federal budget time looms around the corner on the 12th of May.

Do we have anything to say about it?

You bet we do. Ask your federal member and senator now (then also ask your state member!):


The federal government will still be spending money on building new school libraries.  How about staffing them?

We need to let politicians and the public know how inequitable school library services are in Australia, whether we have nice new “infrastructure” buildings or not. NT remote schools have no TLs.  WA primary schools have no TLs appointed.  Vic and ACT  count TLs as part of teaching staff, may or may not have a teacher deployed in the library and do not require that teacher to be a teacher librarian. Probably one in 10 public primary schools in Vic have TLs. 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. 

Even in Tas and Qld principals are being forced by inadequate staffing budgets to downgrade staff in school libraries, often to clerical positions. It’s not good enough.

Meanwhile, since the early 70s  NSW primary schools have been staffed with trained teacher librarians.  While too often used for teacher relief planning time, they nevertheless are professionally trained in collection management, literacy support, leadership, collaborative teaching and other unique TL professional standards.  If we are talking about equity, I know we agree that ALL Aus students deserve professional school library services run by professionally trained TLs.


What can the federal government do?

National standards can be written for school library facilities and staffing, especially primary libraries.

Dollars can be allocated to increase teacher librarian training positions in university programs.

Federal state school funding can be tied to appropriate school library staffing levels.


The federal government will still be spending money on computers.  How can we make sure students can use them?

MCEETYA (Performance Measurement and Reporting Taskforce, 2005) defines ICT literacy as being able to“access, manage  and evaluate information, develop new understandings, and  communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society” (Statements of Learning for ICT, 2006).

The Council of Australian University Librarians defines information literacy almost identically: “an understanding and set of abilities enabling individuals to recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (CAUL, 2005).  Bringing these literacies (an example matrix) together should be a future aim for MCEETYA. A learning statement on information and ICT literacy should be supported by a national statement on the role of teacher librarians, teachers and principals in creating information literate school communities.


The federal government will still be spending money on a National Schools Assessment and Data Centre.  Will they be collecting appropriate data on school libraries?

Julia Gillard has stated (see letter attached) that it is likely that COAG will be considering the need for better data on teacher librarians. 

We must make sure that separate data is collected on teacher librarian qualifications, library staffing and scheduling and on library funding across all states and territories and all sectors. (See US example.) This must be part of the government’s “transparency and accountability” policy. 


The federal government will still be spending money on improving literacy. The role of teacher librarians and school libraries must be recognized in these efforts.


The federal government could fund programs similar to the US Improving Literacy Through School Libraries grants program. 

The government should fund research into the effect of well-staffed, well-funded school libraries on improving literacy. 1997 was one of the last in Australia! This study indicated that  Extensive use of the school library can increase literacy achievement by as many as 27 points. J. Masters and M. Forster. Mapping Literacy Achievement: Results of the 1996 national School English Literacy Survey. ACER, Melbourne, 1997.

International research speaks strongly.  Teacher librarians give students the opportunity to read by providing materials of interest and books appropriate to each student’s reading level. In addition, school library  programs provide ready access to books. According to Stephen Krashen it is unnecessary to urge young people to read more and understand the importance of reading because, given the chance, they do in fact read quite a bit, and they certainly do understand the importance of reading…. More access to reading results in more reading. 

All literacy programs should explicitly recognize the central role school libraries have in “student achievement, literacy attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success” (Ontario  Coalition for School Libraries) .

So let our federal members and senators know we expect to see school libraries targeted in the budget! Attach copies of your letters in comment space below. School libraries make a difference!