A day in the life of a TL

10 04 2008

During the last few days, our counter clicked over 15,000 views.  Yay!  Here’s what one of our many readers has submitted to us for personal delivery to Julia Gillard’s office next week. Many thanks to this TL for sharing her thoughts.  I hope it encourages TLs and others to take the time this weekend to send in their stories.  Just because we don’t have any current Australian statistics yet doesn’t mean we sit and do nothing.  Last week I met a teacher who works in one of the largest state primary schools in Melbourne, and they are about to lose their only TL.  This is the kind of information that needs to be put forward, not just the facts and figures. 

Why I love my library!!
I work in a private P-12 school of around 400 students. The first year I taught I had a full time TL working beside me. However for over 12 months now I have run the library solo due to budget constraints – no support staff at all and very few computers (4 at present down from 15). Any support I get comes from parent volunteers who are not trained – I am grateful for their willingness to support the library but it is not ideal.
My inspiration to keep going are the kids in my school.

I have opened the doors at luchtime to all (K-12) and find I have between 40 and 90 kids  in the library during this time (numbers depend on the weather – when its wet or cold its crowded). Its a little chaotic but the kids are being exposed to information and literacy. We have storytime (parents reading picture books), drawing, colouring, chess, study, reading, exploring photo albums, socialising, etc. and the list continues to grow and evolve. It is truly wonderful that the students see the library as a “cool place” to visit. And yes even year 8-10 boys come and hang out!! It is no longer the place where the anti-social or unlikeable kids come to hide – they get to mingle with the whole school and make friends in the process.

I am particularly proud of are my seniors (yr 10-12’s). They are asking for books to read and then giving me feedback about the books that I’m giving them. It is truly remarkable to see these kids reading for pleasure often after a comment from one of the boys to the effect of “I’ve never read a book all the way through”. To see the excitement on their faces as they ask for a new book is priceless.

There is so much more I want to do for these future generations but I am only one person. I am a teacher, I am a librarian, but I find I am expected to be on supervision as well as on call 24/7 whenever anyone needs me and unable to leave the building. This expectation does not allow time for co-operative planning and programming or team teaching in classrooms and is incredibly isolating.

We need state/federal set guidelines for mandatory staffing levels. We need state/federal set guidelines to determine the number of computers in libraries. We need state/federal set guidelines for minimum collection requirements (ie: resources per student / teacher). We need state/federal set guidelines for the floorspace required for a school library. We need state set guielines for the timetabling requirements for teacher librarians. I would also love to see NSW publish an information literacy statement  (ie: what each grade level should be able to accomplish) that is available online to all.

These guidelines would mean that principals and teachers have a better idea what is expected, what is best practice and the potential of the school library and its staff is in their planning and teaching.

(Name withheld)