Report on school libraries and teacher librarians


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Enokson

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment  released a report on school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia’s public and private schools. The report released on Monday 23 2011  investigates the issues of role, adequacy and resourcing of school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia.  The full report is available at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ee/schoollibraries/report.htm

The report focuses on the impact of government policies and investments on school libraries, the potential of school libraries and teacher librarians to contribute to improved educational outcomes, and the recruitment and development of teacher librarians. The 163-page report also looks at partnering and supporting school libraries and teacher librarians with other libraries. It is a positive report in that it is clearly supportive of school libraries and the role of the teacher librarian.

When it comes to school libraries and teacher librarians, we are in a much better position than some countries at the moment!  Our school librarians and our teacher librarians are considered worthy of  national discussion!  Nevertheless, while there are many instances of great school libraries staff with excellent teacher librarians, and adequate levels of professional support staffing, there are also many cases where this is not the case.  This report may go some way to helping to redress the imbalance, and also ensure that continuation of a strong teacher librarian academic programs in Australia.

The report was tabled to coincide with Library and Information Week 2011.

List of 11 recommendations in the report.

Impact of recent Commonwealth Government policies and investments on school libraries

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government partner with all education authorities to fund the provision of a core set
of online database resources, which are made available to all Australian schools.

Recommendation 2
The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government work with the states and territories to develop a discrete national policy statement that defines the importance of digital and information literacy for learning in the 21st century, which can be used as a guide by teachers and principals.

Potential of school libraries and librarians to contribute to improved educational and community outcomes

Recommendation 3

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.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government support additional initiatives to promote reading, such as a National Year of Reading. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations should collaborate with the Australian School Library Association, Australian Libraries and Information Association and other education stakeholders in developing these initiatives.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government initiate an Australian-based longitudinal study into the links between library programs, literacy (including digital literacy) and student achievement, including their impact on improving outcomes for socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government support promotional activities undertaken by ASLA and ALIA that demonstrate to the school community the valuable work that teacher librarians are doing in respect of e-learning in their schools, including those that highlight their leadership capacity.

Recruitment and development of teacher librarians

Recommendation 7

The Committee recommends that the rollout of the new national curriculum, which is to be made available online, include a component of training for teacher librarians.

Recommendation 8

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government commission a thorough workforce gap analysis of teacher librarians across Australian schools.

Recommendation 9

The Committee recommends that the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, establish a national dialogue, including with tertiary providers, on the role of teacher librarians today in schools and into the future. The dialogue should include an examination of the adequacy of the pathways into the profession and ongoing training requirements.

Partnering and supporting school libraries and teacher librarians

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood and Youth Affairs, discuss ways to enhance partnerships with state and
territory and local levels of government to support school libraries and teacher librarians.

Recommendation 11

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government partner with ASLA and ALIA to produce a document that showcases some of the successful partnerships and programs between school libraries and other libraries, and joint-use libraries. The document should be made available to government and non-government education authorities and school principals.

The Committee hopes that this report goes some way toward highlighting teacher librarians’ concerns; showcases their valuable contributions to educational outcomes in Australian schools; and starts to examine their evolving role and place in Australia’s education system.


4 thoughts on “Report on school libraries and teacher librarians

  1. Wow. Good for you all!

    To get a national conversation at all happening about school libraries is admirable. And the longitudinal studies of achievement will be helpful to libraries worldwide.

    I think this is an excellent start.

  2. Have only read the recommendations so far but it seems very weak. “discrete national policy” what does that mean? A hidden one with no teeth? What about a national formula of teacher librarians per number of students or recommendations that those employed as a tl are actually qualified in both! – seems like a nice token gesture so far. I hope I’m wrong and it’s the beginning of a positive move forward?

  3. Mike, this report is just the beginning of a process that has the potential to produce valuable outcomes for school libraries and teacher librarians. Some of the issues you mention were included in the submissions, and are issues that will need to be explored as the next phase. The report could not have answered the ‘big’ questions just yet! But, certainly, equity for all kids in Australia is critical – hence the suggesion of provision of access to online databases. Judging by your comment, I have a feeling you may still have a bit to discover yourself about the power of such tools in the hands of teachers and students. But in the meantime, let’s see what happens. I’m very grateful for the work that has been done, and look forward to the next stage of developments.

  4. Er, no mention of staffing status or of book collections. In fact, no mention of books, at all.

    “Establish a core set of online database resources”? I’m doubtful about this, if you use FUSE as a model. There have been some good examples, (ergo, produced by SLV) but I would be wary of seeing more websites as the way to go. Most kids don’t know how to deal with what’s online now.

    The establishment of “a discrete national policy statement that defines the importance of digital and information literacy” won’t be worth the screen it appears on unless it’s backed up with some serious resources – ie, support for book collections and for staff to assist students in reading choice and research skills development. How long before a policy translates to action and change?

    The decline of librarians in both primary and secondary schools does not seem to be a concern of this report. Or am I missing something?

    Judging by the recommendations, this seems a very thin and timid report. We may well be considered ‘worthy’ of national discussion, but are we considered worthy of paying for?

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