It is not all that surprising that Australia’s first school libraries emerged from Sunday Schools in 1839. These modest libraries predate the NSW State library by 30 years. The tone created by these first libraries filtered into the the first school libraries with the focus being on religious education. This cultural capital of course has implications for the expectations that stakeholders may have of the types of information students may access in a school library and the purpose of the library in terms of education agendas.
An overarching statement of purpose provides a framework for teacher librarians to articulate the reasons for the choices they make within their spaces. UNESCO has a school library manifesto that sees a school library’s core business as ‘developing life long skills, the imagination, enabling students to live as responsible citizens,’ this is achieved through, ‘all members of the school community becoming critical thinkers and effective users of information,’ (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2006). It is significant that this goal is aimed toward all members, emphasising the role that the school library has at the centre of a learning culture, and by default the responsibility that the teacher librarian has as a leader within their learning communities.
The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) has a document detailing the Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians while this document does specifically address elements that are specific to the context of the teacher librarian, it shouldn’t be viewed as a stand alone document. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited (ATSL) (2017) has developed the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers domain five, Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning, has particular relevance for teacher librarians. In order for the teacher librarian role to be valued with a school it must be visible and understood, assessing programs, encouraging feedback, and reporting on the success of library programs and initiatives must be a priority if the wider community is to understand the importance of a well resourced and professional school library.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
Australian School Library Association (2015). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians