Illawarra Media Coverage for TLs

3 03 2010

The Illawarra Mercury has responded to our media release concerning the NSW pilot trial of no teacher librarian at Loftus Public School.  Their reporter, Emma Shaw, has interviewed two Hubbers, a TL and principal, a parent and the president of our local school librarians’ association. We thank them all for their contributions and enthusiastic support.

We’d like to know your reaction to the coverage, so we can improve future releases.  Please comment below.

Illawarra Mercury 2 March 2010 Illawarra Mercury 2 March 2010 page 2

Illawarra Mercury 2 March 2010

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)


I hate radio interviews

28 07 2009

If you’re lucky and your local radio station has responded to your media release, the interviewer rings you up, tells you they will ring back in 5 minutes to record the interview.  Then you might only get 3 minutes of air time.

It takes some getting used to, and I was always nervous.  Even though I prepared  my 3 or 4 points and had my sound bites, I was still inclined to rattle on with platitudes and clichés, letting the interviewer lead me into wormholes I never wanted to enter.

So how do the successful ones do it?


Practice out loud, to a family member or colleague.  Have them listen closely and have them ask the hard questions, the ones you don’t want them to ask, but they inevitably will. Time yourself.  Tape yourself and listen.

Be prepared!

Have three or four points ready and make sure you get them in.  Answer a question briefly and then, before you are interrupted, go on to make the points YOU want to make.

Make your point again!

Have sound bites.  Have key facts ready.  Thanks to ALIA, ASLA and ECU, we have some Australian stats now.  The results of the ASLRP survey are starting to come in:

Over a third of school libraries in Australia have no teacher librarians. (Note: one third of Anglican schools have two OR MORE teacher librarians.)

Half of our government schools  have budgets under $5000. A quarter of these have budgets  of less than $1000! And half the schools in the NT have budgets under $500! (Compare this to those independent schools with budgets of over $100,000!)

If we are talking about equity, we must talk about equitable funding and staffing of government school libraries.

Or use the copious US research.

Do unsupervised library clerks make a difference in academic achievement?

What does make a difference?

  • Teacher Librarians planning and teaching cooperatively with classroom teachers.
  • Teacher Librarians providing in-service training to classroom teachers.
  • Teacher Librarians meeting with the principal, attending faculty meetings and serving on curriculum committees.
  • Teacher Librarians managing computer networks that provide remote access to the library’s resources.

None of these activities is properly in the job description of a clerk.  Thus, hiring only a clerk, produces a false sense of economy.  Unsupervised school library clerks do not engage in activities that make a difference.  See the Lance study in Alaska, 1999.

Think about your audience.

Drive radio?  Parent at home radio?  Talk to that person driving to the office.  Talk to that mom or dad at home.

Australia has fallen behind in the OECD league tables for literacy.  We have also fallen behind in our staffing of school libraries.  Is there a correlation?  Well, the research shows having a teacher librarian makes a difference in the amount read. Larger school library collections  with exciting reading materials  increases borrowing.  Larger school library collections mean higher reading scores. (Krashen, StephenThe Power of Reading; Insights from the Research. Englewood, CO:  Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1993.)

Want to see your son or daughter achieve their best at school?

Research shows the highest achieving students attend schools with good school library programs.

Scores tend to be 10-20% higher in schools with stronger libraries.  It’s worth the investment! (Lance and Loertscher. Powering Achievement. 3rd ed. 2005).

Make sure your school has a qualified teacher librarian.

Paint a picture

We’re finding it difficult to meet twenty-first-century demands with nineteenth-century budgets (ALA)

Think before you answer. Buy yourself time by saying, “Do we have many TLs in training? That’s a good question. There actually isn’t any data available, and there needs to be.” Pause before you begin your answer to get your thoughts in order.

Flag important statements by saying, “The most important thing here is . . .” or “The real issue here is . . .” you not only get the reporter’s attention, you get the audience’s attention too. These are also good transitional phrases when you want to redirect the interviewers  question to your key message.

Stay on message. If an interview starts on the wrong topic, be sure to bring it back to what you’re really there to discuss. You can do that by “bridging,” such as, “Well, that’s an interesting question, but what I really hope you’ll understand about school libraries is they are the centres for teaching and learning about finding and evaluating information.  Teacher librarians are our specialists in information literacy. ”

Hook your interviewer by saying “There are three important points here . . .” the interviewer (and the audience) is automatically waiting for those three points. It grabs the interviewer’s attention, and they can’t cut you off before you finish the three points without annoying their audience.

Be concise. Avoid jargon and clichés. Don’t give a speech.

Speak with a smile. Your voice will sound warmer!

These and several other techniques can help you keep control of the interview, make sure you get your points across, and speak directly to the audience. Your conversation must always be geared to the listener—not the interviewer.

Well, those are some of the tips from experts.  And I never became one.  I’m leaving that up to you 🙂  My greatest admiration to anyone who gives it a go!  Listen to a successful interview on Life Matters ABC Radio National 22 July, ‘Teacher librarians are a dying breed in the education system’. Richard Aedy interviews Mary Manning, Executive Officer, School Library Association of Victoria.  It may help that Richard’s mother was a TL!!

Sources: ALA A Communication Handbook for Libraries, 2004

AASL Crisis Toolkit, 2008

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.

The Hub on ABC radio

29 11 2007

The following has been sent in by Georgia.  Well done Georgia!  I hereby dub thee Hub Advocate of the Month for the month of November, a most prestigious and coveted award for outstanding promotion of school libraries in Australia.


I just sent the following email to our local ABC morning show host, after his interview with my friend, Jean Ferguson from Friends of the Wollongong City Library, about the day of action today re public library funding. A subsequent caller raised the net vs books argument….how libraries need to concentrate on books.

I responded as below, and Nick Rheinberger was kind enough to read my email out on air, including mention of our campaign:-)


From: Georgia Phillips

Date: 29 November 2007 9:56:39 AM

To: Nick Rheinberger <>

Subject: Net vs Libraries


Hi Nick,


You get what your pay for.  This goes for information as well as anything else.

Scholarly published books and journals contain referreed information, often checked by peers, and checked by editors.  This is worth paying for.

Net information can be “published” (ie uploaded) by anyone.  No critical assessment needed.

That’s why we need teacher librarians teaching children how to critically evaluate what is found on the net, esp, AND journal articles and books.

Who published it? What is their background, interest, authority, bias? Critical thinking and information literacy is the sphere of expertise of our teacher librarians.

Support funding for them AND for our public libraries.  Quality information is the basis for quality democracy!:-)


Georgia Phillips

co-founder Campaign for Quality School Libraries

So what is ASLA doing this week?

26 11 2007

I sit here pondering what conversations are happening within our ASLA council. Are their brains ticking as madly as mine as we stand on the threshold of an education revolution?  Are they preparing to sieze the day?  How about the state associations? 

Blogging is easy. You just think of something and write it down.  Committees, on the other hand, are a slow process by necessity.  There’s a reason why it has taken our local kindergarten four years to get a new sandpit shelter.  So let’s give our associations some time to formulate their plans, say, a week? 

Seriously though, associations can’t really work that fast. They can, however, release a statement to media within the next few days.  I put out a call to ASLA, ASLA – NSW, ASLA – ACT, ASLA-TAS, ASLA – NT, SLAQ, SLASA, WASLA and SLAV to each produce a media release.  And get the statement up on your website ! (we’ll be checking!) ALIA, it would be great if you had something to say too. Computers and broadband in schools is featuring on just about every news report I have seen in the last 24 hours.  Now is the time to speak up. 

Not just associations either.  Every library advocate can do this.  Click here for ideas on how to contact the media.  Contact the association you are a member of and ask them to speak up. For years, teacher librarians have been advocating in isolation from each other, within their schools.  Now we have an opportunity to combine our efforts . We’ve had over 300 hits on this site in less than 24 hours.  You are not alone!

Remember,  if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.