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 http://www.care2.com/causes/education/blog/libraries-are-part-of-the-safety-net-no-wonder-governments-hate-them/


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 <http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr230511.pdf>

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 <http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr240511.pdf> 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 <http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_representatives_Committees?url=ee/schoollibraries/report.htm>

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 http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memfeedback.asp?id=HV4 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,



You have 18 Days to Lobby for Teacher Librarians

19 07 2010

Seize this election  opportunity. While we await its outcome and that of the Inquiry report, NOW is the time to contact candidates and ask them to support school libraries and teacher librarians. It is also an opportunity to educate them. You can find your electorate here and find your candidates here. Many candidates already in office are only responding to their own constitutents, so be sure to put your name and address.

Toward that end, here is a brief sample letter and  here is a longer sample letter you can adapt for your local federal candidates. And you can adapt these letters if your candidate is one of the hardworking House Education committee members who should be congratulated on their efforts. Phoning or visiting your candidates is even better.

If you get a response, The Hub would be very interested in seeing it. Email to HelloHub@gmail.com .

See also the template letters on the ALIA election site. Using your state or territory’s hearing transcript for relevant quotations is a great idea of Karen Bonanno’s.

Whatever you do, do let your candidates know that school libraries make a difference to student learning and literacy and it is time to arrest their national decline!

Keeping their legacy Pt 2: A national review

15 11 2009

Few are still with us who led the campaign for our school libraries in the 60s and 70s.  There are no more state supervisors of school library services.  There are no more state school library services.  In fact, one is hard pressed to find any mention of school libraries on some state and territory department of education websites.  Try to find a reference on the Vic or ACT or NT DET sites. And the state of school library staffing and funding has been described in a previous blog.

State School Library Services

Well staffed state services which provided training, policy advice, advocacy, publications, resource lists, school visits, and even management of school library placements are now a thing of the past. The larger states have had services restructured as curriculum support with reviewing and cataloguing for SCIS, some policy revision and limited PD. NSW does this with a staff of only 5 (close to 60 in the 70s!). Qld still does excellent Curriculum Resource Reviews, but has no school library support personnel as such.

Tasmanian schools have lost their School Library Service, and are left with one librarian in the State Library to advise on the new automated school library system.

WA has no school library service as such but CMIS provides (excellent) curriculum resource evaluation (7 FT and 3 pt time) and SCIS cataloguing (8) and PD when asked.  They offer school library support through their website, phone advice, blogs and now tweet.

South Australia’s School Library Services Branch is gone, as are their regional school library advisors, with one officer currently, managing the Premier’s Reading Challenge.

So who is available to advise state departments of education on school libraries?  Who supports schools in their efforts to build quality library services  which support teaching and learning? Much of this has been left to the professional associations, national, state and local.  However, according the ASLRP survey, less than 50% of TLs belong to ASLA and ALIA, the major sources of TL PD.

So after 30 some years since the federal school library revolution, we now have BER libraries being built but not professionally staffed,  no Schools Commission or state policy advisors, limited or no support services to schools, limited DET PD and, with the end of Commonwealth grants and compensatory GST funding, it’s back to parent fund-raising for school library resources.  Overall, a drastic decline since the 1970s, especially if you contrast this with the webspace, policies, and support infrastructure for ICT in schools!!

TL training programs

We see the same pattern in TL training programs.

There was a big response to federal funding for trained teacher librarians after the reports of the 70s. Something like 15 TL training courses were mounted at universities and CAEs. Now we have three specifically for TLs.* “Despite the progress made there is still not a qualified teacher librarian for every school. Indeed the dearth of qualified teacher librarians is again a concern.”  (Henri and Freeman, Tlship at CSU: then and now, 2006)


The third change effecting school library staffing is in the “devolution, flexibility and choice” of staffing.  TLs in Tasmania, for example, lost their separate staffing entitlement.  Increasing self-management meant schools now have to choose between having a TL or another teacher, also the case in Victoria.  Qld has moved toward the same flexibility. And NSW is about to have a “trial” of 47 schools in school-based decision-making on budget, staffing mix and recruitment.

A Commonwealth initiative is needed such as has just begun by petition in the UK to “make school libraries, run by properly qualified staff, statutory.”

Call for a National Review

Our petition for a qualified TL in every school, then, will be presented with this request: That there be a national review of school libraries in Australia, the first in 35 years. [Note: The letter has now been sent]

Such an inquiry should include:

  • The lack of useable government data for decision making on school libraries and data collection from state education agencies
  • The shortage of qualified TLs
  • The need for national standards, including agreed role statements and qualifications
  • The school library and TL in teacher pre-service and in-service ed. – in literacy, collaborative teaching, information literacy, etc.
  • Explicit policy and curriculum recognition of role of TLs and libraries in literacy and learning
  • A national curriculum for Information Literacy and ICT
  • The need for sponsorship of research on the effect of school libraries on student learning, literacy and academic achievement
  • School library funding equity, including the cost of digital information services in schools
  • The role of school libraries in indigenous literacy
  • Sponsorship of university tuition fees to qualified teachers wishing to retrain as teacher librarians. (See the NSW DoE sponsored retraining in teacher librarianship)
  • The re-introduction of undergraduate teacher librarianship programs in Australian universities through the sponsorship of positions in those Bachelor of Education programs that offer teacher librarianship as a teaching specialisation.
  • The decline of central support services in each state.

In other words: The 21st C school library: what should it look like to maximize equity and student learning outcomes?

Comments encouraged! 🙂  GP


University of SA, Monash, Kuringai CAE, RMIT, Canberra CAE, University of Melbourne, Macquarie University, Ballarat CAE, Gippsland CAE, Tasmanian CAE, University of NT

Still here: CSU, QUT, Edith Cowan. There is also a University of Tasmania partnership program with Edith Cowen.

How will we keep their legacy? Pt. 1

11 11 2009

Roy Lundin.  Joyce Fardell.  Margaret Trask. Jim Dwyer. Laurie McGrath. John Gorton. Malcolm Fraser.  How many of us know what they did for the school libraries we now work in and which our children love?   Jim Dwyer’s ACE Archival Brief No. 7 tells us.

There were no school libraries to speak of before Professor Sarah Fenwick’s study visit to Australia in 1964 was commissioned by the Library Association of Australia, now ALIA. (Fenwick, S. 1966. School and children’s libraries in Australia: a report to the Children’s Libraries Section of the Library Association of Australia Cheshire, Melbourne)

“Libraries of substance at that time were virtually non-existent in primary schools. At secondary level most schools had a classroom set aside as a library, with a collection limited in size, scope and recency, due mainly to an almost total lack of trained library staff.” (Dwyer, 2009)

Fenwick’s report formed the basis for the building of a coalition and a movement.

“By 1966 the calls for Commonwealth intervention to provide financial support for libraries in educational institutions had grown apace. These calls had come from not just the LAA but also other bodies including the Australian School Library Association (ASLA), state and private school authorities, teacher associations, school councils and professors of education. Of special note was the backing of the Australian Teachers Federation (ATF).” (Dwyer, 2009)

The LAA then established the Committee on Federal Aid to Secondary Libraries with Dr. Andrew Fabinyi as Convenor and Margaret Trask as secretary. They worked for four years “on contacting the widest possible range of education-related bodies to seek their support and advice and encourage their active involvement.” Fabinyi and Trask met with Senator John Gorton, Minister for Education and Science. “It was at this meeting that Gorton, strongly supportive of the committee’s aims, suggested that a meeting with Prime Minister Harold Holt might be advantageous. The suggestion was followed up and on 12 December 1967 the Prime Minister replied, agreeing to arrange a meeting early in 1968.  Sadly, within a week the Prime Minister was missing, presumed drowned.”

When Gorton became Prime Minister,  Malcolm Fraser was appointed Minister of Education. At a meeting with Fraser in May 1968, it was agreed that Federal aid should be provided to train secondary teacher librarians and stock school libraries.  $27 million was allocated in the Federal Budget in August. A committee was also formed to establish standards. The entire scheme was eventually overseen by the Schools Commission established in 1973.  They appointed a separate committee to extend the program to primary libraries.

Thus the efforts of the many groups involved came to fruition.  School libraries were established with trained teacher librarians to oversee their management which changed teaching practice, to resource-based, inquiry learning.  The Commission was also responsible for computer generated catalogue studies and the initial funding of the Australian Schools Catalogue Information Service (eventually SCIS). Jim Dwyer goes on to say “Without doubt this was one of the few truly successful national, cooperative endeavours in Australian education history.”

Next Pt. 2: 40 years on

Sign our petition now

20 10 2009

Sign our petition now

According to a recent survey of Australian school libraries, 35% of Australian public school libraries have no professional staffing. Tas, WA, Vic and the NT had the lowest number of teacher librarians (TLs) employed.

Yet, “a strong library program that is adequately staffed, resourced and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socioeconomic or educational levels of the adults in the community” (Lonsdale, ACER, 2003).

We, at the Hub, call on the federal government 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.

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

Join us in our petition to the federal government. (Write your own state petition!)

This petition will be presented through MP, Sharon Bird, to the Minister of Education, Julia Gillard and her counterparts, Christopher Pyne and other parties’ education spokespeople, to the House Standing Committee on Education and Training.  Ms Bird is chair of this committee.

Signatories are urged to add their own comments for stronger impact. Please spread the word to teachers, parents, principals, authors, librarians, booksellers, and all those who support strong, well-staffed school libraries.

The Hub at ASLA XXI

29 09 2009

Well, in 24 hours I will know if it was standing room only, or if the room echoed with the sounds of me rustling my notes.  Yes, The Hub is appearing in person tomorrow at the ASLA XXI Biennial Conference.  We were a last minute entry,   due to the late cancellation of some other presenter. Whoever and wherever you are, I hope you are okay, and thanks so much for the spot.  It also means that fellow hubber Georgia had made other plans, so it’s just a solo presentation.

So if you would like to hear more of what we’re on about, get some inspiration for singing the praises of TLs,  have any questions you would like to ask in person,  or even if you’re itching to put me in my place for a previous blog post that didn’t sit well with you, come along.   We’re all about TLs speaking up, so bring your interactive self and add your voice to the discussion.

Getting the word out, G Phillips and L Paatsch

ASLA XXI Biennial Conference, Thursday Oct 1,  11am (concurrent session D)


A match made in heaven

24 01 2008

Hubbers are pleased to see recent efforts begun by ASLA/ALIA to build an alliance with the Australian Society of Authors (ASA)  in lobbying the new federal government  for recognition of the need for quality school libraries in Australia.   Click here to read a letter to the PM from ASLA/ALIA, as well as a letter of support from the ASA (thanks to author Libby Gleeson for the original suggestion of ASA support!).