A dying profession?

When I told my friends and family that I was starting my Masters in Teacher Librarianship, the most common answer was why?  After recently losing my previous career as a scientist to automation and downsizing, my family was worried that I had once again picked a career with a terminal illness.  

After all, it is a rather inauspicious time to become a teacher librarian.  A recent report by BBC News (2016) highlights the loss of 8000 librarian jobs just within the United kingdom.  Did I really need to go into debt to pay for a course that would be redundant in a few years time? What are my motives for even wanting to complete this course and becoming a teacher librarian?  What does a teacher librarian do that is so different from a classroom teacher? After all, we all went to university and obtained our teaching qualifications and registered with the appropriate governing bodies.  Why could I not do the role with just my education degree? Dewey isnt that hard and I do know my alphabet so … What’s the problem?

I posed a question on my Facebook wall to all my to ask them if their children attend a school with a library, the frequency of their attendance and if they knew their librarian was qualified.  Out of the thirty five responses, only five of my friends knew with authority that their children’s school librarian was qualified and two were not even sure if they were teachers. As a parent I was astounded, as a teacher I am outraged.

There is no way we would accept unqualified teachers teaching our children english, maths, science or music.  Then why are we as parents and voters accepting our children having a library not staffed with a qualified teacher librarian?

It then occurred to me that they did not know if the person their kids saw weekly was even qualified at their job.  Teacher librarians are  not on the forefront of the parent-school interaction and Bonanno (2015) corroborates that the profession is often invisible to the community.  Upon thinking further, I realised that this is so true. The work that many T/Ls do is often behind closed doors, in meetings, collaborating with staff after hours, working late at night working on curriculum mapping, organizing resources, embedding technology into teaching practice.  Quite often, even our own teaching colleagues are unaware of the work that is done behind the scenes. So teacher librarians and libraries need  marketing tools to showcase their importance to the school, community and society.

One way of definitely promoting the profession is data analysis. We live in a world of budgets, KPIs and performance markers.  School boards, P&C committees and the money holders are servants to data and data analysis and outputs are calculated carefully and measured against various markers. Teacher librarians need to make their contribution to the school and learning community tangible like actual data.  Not just that the kids read more and are happier, but specify that reading rates are up 40% and wellbeing up by 15%. Be definite with data. Use the school’s NAPLAN scores to elucidate how effective the programs are within the school, or the lack of programs causing lower results.    

Evidence based research is the most authoritative way on bolstering a library and a teacher librarian position within a school.  Consider using research from around the world to prove your point. Bonanno (2015) points out very specifically, the direct correlation between the number of qualified staff members within a library and learning outcomes.   Point out how literacy outcomes directly correlate to the library budget. Share educational articles and journals highlighting the importance of libraries to student wellbeing. Organize student surveys and evaluate the data.  Teacher librarians know that they are highly capable and confident professionals with an innate sense of leadership but need to seen as part of the school community rather than a separate entity (Bonanno 2011).

So the next time some buffoon suggests that teacher librarians are not integral to a school community, remind them that in the information age, digital literacy is an essential skill and teacher librarians are the experts in information literacy.  After all, who else will assist teachers in the planning and implementing of the curriculum, integrate multimodal resources into teaching and learning, as well as be the information expert of the school? We live in a complex digital environment, and a qualified teacher librarian is the gateway that connects curriculum to resources and classroom dynamics.  Don’t you want that gateway in your school?




BBC News (2016) Libraries: The Decline of a profession? England.  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-35724957


Bonanno, K,l (2011) A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. ASLA conference. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/31003940


Bonanno, K,. (2015) A profession at the tipping point (revisited). Access



Burton, S., (2017) Does the digital world need libraries.  [BLog] Internet Citizen. Retrieved from https://blog.mozilla.org/internetcitizen/2017/09/04/libraries/


The Guardian (2017) What jobs will still be around in 20 years? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/26/jobs-future-automation-robots-skills-creative-health


Stripling, Barbara K 2014, ‘The peril and promise of school libraries’, Advocating for School Librarians, American Libraries. from http://www. americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/ advocating-school-librarians


Endangered or Adaptable

Once upon a time, when the air was clear, there lived a family of moths with pretty white 

wings speckled with black spots.  This moth thrived in the woodland, blending in nicely with the fungus covered trees, living merrily among the birds, bees and butterflies of 18th century England.  Their cousins, the melanic moths, with their black wings were the poor cousins that hid in the shadows, hiding from the daylight hours that would highlight them against the drab grey green tree trunks.  

Courtesy of Flickr

But then, darkness descended upon them.  The Industrial age had arrived and with it, smog and soot filled the air and covered the trees.  The poor little speckled moths stood out with their white wings and soon became prey to all the predators around them.  They were dismayed and cried for help to their unfortunate cousins. Instead, the tides had turned. It was the time for the melanic moth to fly.  Their black wings blended in with the soot and coal dust covered trees and buildings. It was their time!! It was their day!! But, being the kind and caring moths, they shared their genetic material with their erstwhile peppery cousins and soon their little speckled moth cousins became black too and life was merry.  

Courtesy of Flickr

Adaptation.  The ability to adjust or change your behaviour, physiology or structure to become more suited to the environment (NAS 2019).  Those peppered moths defied extinction by adapting to the world around them.


This is exactly what libraries have done.  They have evolved from hallowed grounds, sanctified and silenced by volumes of knowledge,held in trust for the future generations; to hubs of energy and have completely embraced this fourth age, known as the digital age.  This digital age, Rouse (2005) elaborates is one in which information, its control, creation and conferment are the basis of the economy. Individuals who are not actively involved cannot call themselves digital citizens and the ramifications of this are immense.  But thats a whole other post – Read it now.

Back to libraries and teacher librarians.  Have they become an endangered species?

Arguably, everything in the modern world is at risk from extinction with the advent of automation and technology. An article from the Guardian (2017) finds  that in about 60% of occupations would face partial employment reduction due to aspects being phased out by technology. Combined with BBC News (2016) doomsday report about the slow extinction of libraries, one could extrapolate that teacher librarian role would soon become a figment of the past and unable to exist with the digital age.  


Teacher librarians are another of these defiant species.  Like our moth mates, rather than lay stagnant and shrink away, teacher librarians, consummate professionals as always, have embraced the digital age and evolved with it.  Libraries are now filled with computers and other technology. Wifi is synonymous with public libraries and Burton (2017) found that almost a third of patrons visit a library just to access the internet.  For many, libraries are the bridge between them and rest of the world. Burton (2017) points out that libraries are becoming the information hubs of society by providing this crucial access to information

Courtesy of Flickr

The question though lies, whilst libraries have evolved into knowledge hubs, has society as a whole, sufficiently evolved to engage with this new age of information.  Is the world equipped to work with Google?

Besides providing access to technology, librarians more importantly provide programs that teach digital literacy.  Todd (2012) found that whilst there is an obvious trend in the proliferation of personal digital devices, and that this technology is the dominant platform for information access and use, he did query the ability of students to actually engage with the content and its medium.  

The question must be asked… are young people, who have used an ipad before a crayon actual able to navigate the digital world successfully? Are they able to use this technology for more than just games and social media? If not, then how are they going to become citizens of this digital world.  Herring (2007) theorized that students needed to be taught how to use search engines based upon the evaluation and understanding of the content rather than the simple act of seeking an answer. As you can plainly see, the demand is for digital citizenship education.

Digital education most commonly happens in schools and and theoretically are programmed into the curriculum by a qualified teacher librarian.  But these days of tightening budgets, schools are often forgoing the need for a qualified teacher librarian and replacing them by either a classroom teacher or an administrator, often under the false assumption that Google can solve everything.  

The problem with this is according to Bonnano (2015) is that the specialist skills that a TL brings is missing, such as understanding learner needs, comprehensive knowledge of the curriculum INCLUDING the general capabilities.  Todd (2012) goes on further to say that teacher librarians have “recognised multimodal nature of literacies that emerged from digital environments and its importance of addressing these literacies”. It is information expert component of a teacher librarian role that can ensure these literacies are addressed properly (ALIA & ASLA 2016a).  

Teacher librarians are tasked by ALIA/ASLA (2016b) to implement programs that embed information literacy within the curriculum so that students become adept at seeking and using relevant and authoritative information.  It is our profession duty, that we teach students to be able to analyse, create and disseminate information ethically in multiple formats. Teacher librarians are tasked with ensuring that students become active and informed digital citizens.   

The absence of a school library and or the absence of a qualified teacher librarian will only be detrimental to the educational outcomes of the learning community.  It is clear to me that the presence of a teacher librarian is essential for the educational outcomes of the students. Teacher librarians are certainly not endangered, rather I think the profession will soon become a necessity if society is to survive.  


ALIA and ASLA (2016a) Statement on teacher librarians in Australia. Retrieved from



ALIA and ASLA (2016b) Statement on information literacy. Retrieved from https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/policy_Information_Literacy.pdf

BBC News (2016) Libraries: The Decline of a profession? England. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-35724957

Bonanno, K,. (2015) A profession at the tipping point (revisited). Access. Retrieved from  http://kb.com.au/content/uploads/2015/03/profession-at-tipping-point2.pdf


Burton, S., (2017) Does the digital world need libraries.  [BLog] Internet Citizen. Retrieved from https://blog.mozilla.org/internetcitizen/2017/09/04/libraries/


The Guardian (2017) What jobs will still be around in 20 years? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/26/jobs-future-automation-robots-skills-creative-health

Herring, J., (2007) Libraries in the 21st Century. Chapter 2. Retrieved from https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/science/article/pii/B9781876938437500028

National Academy of Science (2019) Definitions of Evolutionary terms. National academies of Sciences, Engineering Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.nas.edu/evolution/Definitions.html


(Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33


Todd, Ross J. School libraries as pedagogical centres [online]. Scan: The Journal for Educators, Vol. 31, No. 3, Aug 2012: 27-36. Availability: <https://search-informit-com-au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=585228491693277;res=IELHSS> ISSN: 2202-4557.

Benign or Malignant?  How do you diagnose? – Module 2


Scientist diagnose cancerous cells using a set of predetermined criteria.  As a practicing cytologist for over a decade, I used certain characteristics to determine if a cell was benign or malignant.

Tim Ereneta -with permission by Flickr

Parameters such as presence of a nucleolus and or mitotic figures, nucleus to cell ratio, cytoplasm pigmentation and or irregular arrangement were the most common identifying characteristics of a tumour cell.  If these markers were detected within a cell or among similar cells in a sample, then a report written up and a diagnosis made.

Now as a teacher librarian, I use predetermined criteria to determine which resources to add to the collection.  These predetermined criteria are listed in the collection development policy so I do not have to come up with them, but rather I have to apply them to the books, magazines, ebooks and multimedia that flow into our information centre.

Selection in the school, are professional concepts that guide T/Ls to what resources are appropriate to the school collection that meet the teaching and learning needs of the school community.  Unlike public libraries, school libraries have to also meet curriculum demands. To put it bluntly, in a school context, the needs and requirements of a school community are the driving force for resource selection.  

So whilst I was contemplating this fact, I then thought about what selection criteria I would create.  Whilst I agree with Hughes-Hassell & Mancall (2005) with the criteria present in their diagram, I disagree with the idea of a flow chart, as not every resource will follow all steps and thus even great resources could be excluded.  This is especially true for high school libraries where often specialist information may be required for niche teaching and learning contexts.

The criteria I came upon was loosely based to the criteria in Hughes-Hassell & Mancall (2005) flow chart but I had four general categories with sub sections.  Resources do not have to match all the specific criteria, but must fulfill the major ones of teaching and learning needs; curriculum needs; school requirements and school ethos.  This system will give more flexibility to the TL in creating a school collection that is balanced yet addressing the needs of the community.

Cassia Beck – Used with permission from Flickr

Selection Criteria – My way.

  1.      Teaching and learning needs
    1. Resources are of high quality and appropriate. Have authority, accuracy, validity and currency.
    2. Meets scope of learning needs and styles – including recreational reading
    3. Integrates digital technologies ie multimodal resources in print, media, audio and ebooks that enrich T&L
  2.     Curriculum needs
    1. Provides information about curriculum content
    2. Addresses other curriculum requirements ie cross curricular priorities, capabilities and learning outcomes.
    3. Challenges thinking about past, current and future global issues.
  3.      School needs
    1. Supported by current IT network and library management system
    2. Cost efficient
  4.       Consistent with the values of the school
    1. Consistent with the values of  love, compassion and respect.
    2. Acknowledge diversity of religion, ethnicity and languages. 

I included a subsection on challenging thinking on past, present and future global issues’, because of the framework decided by the MCEETYA (2008) .  The policy desires that “All young Australians (are to) become successful learners, confident and creative individuals (and) active and informed citizens”.  It is a personal belief, but in order for students to become the active and informed citizens that our society needs, they need to be able to critically analyse and evaluate the maelstrom of information that besiege them constantly.  They need to be able to seek and use information critically and ethically.

Maybe we should be structuring our selection criteria based on what we want our learners to be.  Active, engaged citizens who are able to seek and use information as well as think critically and logically,  and who are able to make informed opinions. I wonder how that selection criteria will look

Hughes-Hassell, S., & Mancall, J. C. (2005). Collection management for youth : Responding to the needs of learners. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

MCEETYA (2008) Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Curriculum Corporation. Australia. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/national_declaration_on_the_educational_goals_for_young_australians.pdf



Information Society – The Second Industrial Revolution – Module 2.3 & 2.5

Society is full of catch words or phrases that attempt to manage or label an era of great advancement or stagnation.  

Prehistoric generations were characterised by ‘stone age’ or ‘bronze age’ because they were defined by their advancement of particular tools.  

Other times of great advancement in thinking in the history of Homo sapiens sapiens were achieved during the Renaissance and Industrial revolution.  These latter two movements dramatically changed the social, cultural, political and economical landscapes of their societies.  The Renaissance was dominant in metamorphing the arts, science and medical fields due to the promotion of new thinking and creativity.  Erasmus’s Utopia, Gutenberg’s printing press and Protestantism were products of this time, where current thinking was challenged by new ideas.  The industrial revolution sought to improve efficiency and productivity so as to theoretically improve quality of life. Unfortunately, this improvement in quality of life was divided sharply by those that could afford it or those that could not.  The adage “have and the have-nots” was apt then and now as many of us would recall that sweatshops and horrible working conditions still exist in parts of the world today.


Our society is currently undergoing a digital transformation, which will be known in the generations to come as ‘the digital age’ or ‘information society’.  Information society as (Rouse, 2005) details is “a society in which the creation, distribution, and manipulation of information has become the most significant economic and cultural activity… (where) the tools of the information society are computers and telecommunications rather than lathes and ploughs”.  To put it in plain language, it means that the majority of society currently uses various forms of technology across all aspects of employment, social interactions and recreation. Unfortunately, like the Industrial revolution where the divide lead to great inequality of income, health and educational outcomes, the digital divide is also causing a schism within society.  


Citizens of the ‘information society’ are defined by their ability to participate everyday with information intensity through workplace and organizations; possession and ability to use technology to access business, social and learning outcomes and thirdly, the ability to communicate using digital technology.  Non-citizens of the information society, are elucidated most commonly by their inability to participate with the digital economy due to lack of access to hardware such as devices and or insufficient access to resources such as NBN or wifi and or their ability to communicate using the technology. The ADDII (2016) surmised that “there is a divide between people on lower incomes, compared to those on higher incomes” with sub groups of society such as the disabled, the elderly and persons of Aboriginal and Torres strait the most likely to be excluded from the digital age.  This divide leads to poorer overall outcomes, especially in health and education, as the the ability to share knowledge and ideas as well as give and receive information in its various formats as an important aspect of overall well being (ABS 2012).


The role of libraries and teacher librarians is pivotal in closing this divide.  In Australia there is no constitutional right to information. But, as a nation, the right to access information is implied by the endorsement of UN Human rights charter.  Article 19 of the charter is defined by “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (UN, 1948).  This means that everyone has the right to access information irrespective of their geography, finances and literacy levels.


The presence of libraries and public libraries is an attempt by various government and legislative bodies to ensure all members of society are able to participate in this digital age, and they are able to send and receive information through all forms of media (Graham 2012).  The role of a teacher librarian is two-fold. The first aspect, as the information specialist within a school, the TL is required to provide opportunities for the entire school cohort access to information in all formats across various platforms. The second role of the TL, in conjunction with other educators is to ensure digital literacy programs are embedded within the curriculum.  The importance of digital literacy cannot be more emphasized than this. It is absolutely irrelevant if a person has a device and access to the internet but they cannot communicate successfully using the the technology available to them. Digital literacy is becoming more and more relevant as the technology is constantly evolving and the user must be literate in order to use it effectively.  Our role as emerging TLs is to understand the landscape of the world we live in and guide our students in providing access and appropriate teaching strategies to equip them for their future.



Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2015). Information and communication technology (ICT). Retrieved Nov. 2016

Graham, I. (2012). The State of Censorship – Australia. Libertus. Retrieved Nov. 2016.

Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE). (2009). Australia’s digital economy: Future directions. Retrieved Nov. 2016. Early report.

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. (DIIS). (2016). Australia’s digital economy update. Retrieved Nov. 2016.

Parliament of Australia Joint Standing Committee First Report( 2017) The rollout of       the National Broadband Network. retrieved 13/3/2019

Rouse, M. (2005). What is Information Society? Whatis. Retrieved Nov. 2016.

United Nations (1948) Human Rights Charter. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ 13/3/19

Web Finance Inc. (2016). Information Society. Retrieved Nov. 2016.

Webster, F. (2014). Theories of the information society. 4th ed. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


Curriculum + information + access = Superhero

My path to the role of teacher librarian is but a fortuitous accident.  A recent graduate, blissfully unaware of the actual requirements, I blithely applied for the role citing my repertoire of favourite novels, familiarity with Dewey and my flexible nature in the requested selection criteria. In hindsight, I flinch at my old self, but obviously the principal saw something within me that I had not envisaged.  Fast forward six months, and I have gained valuable insight into the role of a teacher librarian; progressed to full registration and now am a permanent member of staff as a teacher librarian.

Figure 1 – Trombetta (2017)


The role of a teacher librarian has changed dramatically from memories of high school, which had T/L as the “the literature expert at the school” (Braxton 2008).  These bastions of knowledge, could with great skill, able to place the right books into correct hands using age, developmental ability, curriculum and abilities as criteria.  But these days, the teacher librarian themselves have grown into a powerful resource due to the dynamic way information is now sourced.

The advent of the portable devices and the ubiquitous use of the internet has permanently changed how we learn.   Instead of numerous shelves holding reference books, journals and encyclopaedias, most school libraries are equipped with databases, online newspapers and encyclopaedias with a significantly smaller physical collection.  But with such transition comes with a transformation in practice and this has been described by  ALIA (2004) – Teacher Librarian in their standards.

The first role of a TL is a curriculum leader.  Whilst wearing this hat, T/Ls work with heads of departments and the executive to ensure that information literacy skills are embedded across the curriculum and school.  They work with classroom teachers to “plan, teach and evaluate…to ensure the effective integration of information resources and technologies into student learning” ASLA & ALIA (2014).  This role extends to ensuring access for students with diverse learning needs, cultural backgrounds and for students where social justice may lead to inequity. (Braxton 2008)

An information specialist is another aspect of the role.  Being able to obtain, interpret, provide access and assist students as well as staff in utilising the information management system available.  ASLA & ALIA (2014) clearly state the importance of providing “specialist assistance to students using technology and information resources in and beyond the school and for independent research”.  This is further substantiated by the General Capabilities curriculum which promotes the need of students to become independent learners with a life long learning capacity (ACARA 2014).  

Figure 2 – Trombetta (2017)

The last countenance that ASLA & ALIA (2014) deems to be part of a TL role is as an information services manager. It seems redundant to point out that teacher librarians are also responsible for maintaining the resource collection whether it be physical or electronic.  A TL must also be able to select resources that fulfil the needs of the curriculum as well as meet the needs of the students within the policies, budget and moral frameworks of the school.

So basically, a T/L is a multifaceted superhero fighting a battle against illiteracy and promoting critical thinking… without wings.


Figure 3 – Superhero Teacher Librarian (Jones, G., 2011)


ACARA (2014) General Capabilities Curriculum Overview. https://australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/ accessed 6/3/19

ALIA (2004) ALIA/ASLA standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/standards-professional-excellence-teacher-librarians accessed 6/3/19

ASLA & ALIA (2014) Learning for the future: developing information services in schools, 2nd Ed. Cited in https://asla.org.au/what-is-a-teacher-librarian (accessed 6/3/19)

Braxton B., (2008) Teacher Librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian 35 (3)

Costello, C., (2016) The role of TLs. https://www.virtuallibrary.info/tl-musings/the-role-of-tls accessed 6/3/19

Jones, G., (2011) Daring librarian. http://daringlibrarian.com/portfolio/public_html/About_Me.html accessed 6/3/19

Trombetta, S., (2017) 17 quotes that prove librarians are the best. Bookbub. https://www.bookbub.com/blog/2017/01/19/quotes-about-how-much-we-love-librarians accessed 6/3/19


Modules 2 & 6 -13 reasons why – censorship and selection

Student: “Miss, why don’t we have the book ‘13 reasons why’?”

Me: Err…. well. It was not deemed suitable for this library.  

Student: Why?”

Me: Well it promotes suicide and that goes against the moral and ethical values of the school.

Student:“Thats dumb miss.  Oh well, I will just watch the series on Netflix”.

13 reasons why – a popular series on Netflix and was based upon a book by Jay Asher that highlights the controversial topics of suicide, bullying and consent.  The book was released in 2007 but did not reach widespread usage till the series aired on streaming channel Netflix in 2017 (Goodreads 2017). Suddenly the world exploded into anarchy because the children were reading such content.  Would somebody please Think of the children!

Gomez (2018) found that the popularity of the book and series was precisely because it caused such controversy among communities.  It is understandable that concerned parents and well meaning bureaucrats were worried that this show would promote suicide in a sub section of society already plagued by mental health concerns (youthbeyondblue.com) but the blanket ‘Ban the book’ is not useful.

 Arguably,  the book is contentious and also contains other morally debatable issues such as “drug and alcohol use, sexual content, suicide” and is definitely inappropriate for younger children (Gomez 2018). Many schools in the USA banned the book citing unsuitability for their readers and its promotion of self harm (McMahon 2018).  Granted I would not give my 9 year old this book as she is definitely too young for its content but I feel like just banning a book based upon fear is nonsensical. Personally, I would keep the books like these in a restricted section for our older readers and place it on a ratings continuum that corresponds to age and maturity levels.

Banned books often highlight controversial issues that society fears or tries to hide (McMahon 2018).  The banning of books in itself is very disquieting. Besides the simple fact that it stifles expression of thought and the exploration of ideas, it is simply censorship.  In a world where minorities still rarely get heard, and injustices occur worldwide, the banning of such books just move to hide these issues from the rest of the world. The American Library Association have established an annual event “Banned book week” to celebrate the inherent right for readers to have a choice.  Besides promoting freedom of choice of reading material, this week also promotes the value of access to information to all. It seems foolhardy to restrict access to book choices for older readers if maturity is not in question (bannedbooksweek.org).

So in the spirit of this post, I am going to list 13 books that have been banned and explain why I think they provide value to a collection within a high school library.

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
    Australia has shockingly high statistics about teen mental health.  With suicide the most common outcome for death in the 14-24 age group and supersede car accidents, I think we need to talk about suicide more.  (ABS 2014)
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    A graphic novel about a transgender child.  Well, considering we have a transgender child within our school community, I think this book needs to be included in our school collection.  Part of our library development policy is to ensure we have addressed the needs of our all learning community.  (ALIA 2017)
  3. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
    This book is amazing.  The senior students do study this book as part of their Senior English course and whilst it does highlight sexual violence, it is exceedingly well written.  It does also comment on that boys can be victims of sexual assault and that just being a spectator does not absolve you from guilt. It definitely plays a role in acknowledging the #metoo movement.
  4. George written by Alex Gino
    Another book that was banned because it included a transgender child. Urgh, such drivel! Transgender children are already at a much higher rate of mental disease and are also more likely to commit suicide compared to the cis-gender counterparts (lgbtihealth.org.au).  Isolation and social exclusion is commonly cited as reasons to this so it seems ludicrous to ban a book because of a character in the book. Transgender children need to feel normal and included across all aspects, even as characters in books.
  5. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg.     Oh wow. Lets stifle all normal dialogue about sex with children and leave it to Playboy and the internet.  I feel frustrated as sex was and always will be a integral aspect of life. Rather than leaving children to gain their information elsewhere, mostly wrong and often inappropriate, this book talks about sex in a fun joyful manner.  Sex is more than just ‘birds and the bees’. It is about consent, boundaries, emotional and physical connections (www.corysilverberg.com).  
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
    A classic story and has been well read and loved across the world as it highlights injustice and inequality before the law.  But get this… This book IS STILL BANNED AT SOME SCHOOLS even in 2017 because it promotes immorality (Bellot 2017). Thankfully here in Australia, this book is often studied in Year 10 as a school text.  Phew!
  7. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas    Inspired by the movement #blacklivesmatter this book highlights racial prejudice, activism, police brutality and media misrepresentation.    Yes there is swearing, violence, sex and drugs. But its 2019 and most of us know that our young people are already aware of these topics. I think many indigenous students would resonate with this book considering the prejudice many of them face themselves in their dealings with the law.
  8. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
    Based upon a beautiful story of two male penguins who love each other and raise a chick together from an abandoned egg.  Banned because of its same sex relationship storyline, the censors feared that penguins would rampage their blatant sexuality in our sensitive faces. Can you feel my sarcasm?  Well it is 2019, and even Australia has legalised same sex marriage so this should not even be an issue within our country. Morris (2016) in her article in the SMH pointed out that the iconic children’s TV show Playschool was featuring same sex couple as part of their families segment.  Unfortunately the same TV program aired a similar storyline back in 2004 and was slammed by the then PM John Howard as “foolish” (Morris 2016).  Thankfully times have changed and we as a society are more accepting.
  9. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Another book banned because it highlights gender issues. Enough said.  
  10. Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald                           This book was and still is often challenged because of the sex, alcohol consumption, violence and language content.  Lombardi (2019) points out that the story challenges the fairy tale of ‘the American dream’ where wealth and fame does not always have a positive outcome.  A bit of a slur against a nation that prides itself on capitalism.
  11. Alice in wonderland by Lewis Carrol                                                                                       I struggled to recall what part in this book would lead to censure from various societal groups.  But it appears the book contains references to sexual fantasies which was actually based upon the author’s lifestyle vs actual content in the book.  The story also has animals that talk which has caused subsections of Chinese society to believe that it brings animals up to the level of humans and thus cause great disharmony in the minds of unsuspecting children. Bah! Drivel! The last reason is that the book promotes drug use as a hookah is present in a scene, well it has a talking animal using a hookah (Melendez 2018).  Considering this book is based on literary nonsense, I find these reasons to be just that.. Nonsense.
  12. Harry Potter by J K Rowling.                                    Well, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom has definitely seen enough challenges to this book series with calls to have it banned and even burned (Peters 2017).  Challenged for its tales of sorcery and witchcraft, it is mostly religious zealots that feel that this book series is an affront to their world. But considering I was one of the early faithful and so far have not yet been burned at the stake nor have had my broom stolen, I think I can dismiss their angst. J K Rowling inspired so many children, teens and adults with her books and HP was the driving force of an entire generation of readers.  A brilliant story of the fight between good and evil, friend and foe, individual and society where it is love that conquered all, has such meaning in our world today (McMahon 2018).
  13. Hunger games by Suzanne collins                                    Violent it is.  This book series is truly terrifying.  Not in the violence it portrays but rather the dystopian society it highlights.  The disparity between the different districts shows symmetry between the haves and have nots in our real world and the way the elite feed off the suffering from the lowest members in society. The point of the ‘hunger game’ is to defeat your opponents at all cost even if they are more vulnerable than you is what I struggle with.  Whilst this series is distasteful on a personal level, it is an important addition to the collection due to the critical thinking and ethical discussion it invokes with critics and readers (McMahon 2018) .


ABS Causes of Death, Australia, 2012 (2014). Underlying causes of death (Australia) Table 1.3. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3303.0

ALIA (2017) A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resource centres. 2nd Ed. Retrieved from alia.org.au

Commonsense Media (2015) And Tango makes three. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/and-tango-makes-three

Bellott, G. (2017) Why are schools still banning To kill a mockinbird still banned in 2017? Shondaland Retrieved from https://www.shondaland.com/inspire/books/a13971188/to-kill-a-mockingbird-banned/

Beyondblue (N.D) Stats and facts. Retrieved from https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/footer/stats-and-facts

www.coreysilverberg.com (N.D)  Sex is a funny word. Retrieved from https://www.corysilverberg.com/sex-is-a-funny-word

Goodreads (2017) The hate u give. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32075671-the-hate-u-give

Goodreads (2017) 13 reasons why Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29844228-thirteen-reasons-why

Invaluable (N.D) 15 Banned books and the reasons for their censorship. Retrieved from https://www.invaluable.com/blog/banned-books/

Lombardi, E (2019) Why was the Great Gatsy controversial? Thought co. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/why-was-great-gatsby-controversial-739960

McMahon, R. (2018) Why your kid should read banned books? Commonsense media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/why-your-kid-should-read-banned-books

Melendez, D. (2018) Why Alice in wonderland was banned throughout the 20th century. Entertainment Retrieved from https://www.hercampus.com/school/uprm/why-alice-wonderland-was-banned-throughout-20th-century

Morris, L. (2016) Playschool segment to feature gay fathers. SMH. Retrieved from www.smh.com.au/entertainment/play-school-segment-to-feature-gay-fathers-20160204-gmlko0.html

National LGBTI Alliance (2016) The Statistics at a glance: The mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Australia. Retrieved from https://lgbtihealth.org.au/statistics/


Reluctant Readers – Would facts be better than fiction?

Reluctant readers.  I didnt even realise this was a phrase.  As an avid reader myself, and from a family of bibliophiles, the concept of people who choose not to read was astounding.  Teaching and the education profession is my second career.  I spent many years as a practicing scientist and reading both professionally and for recreation was common.  We had many water cooler conversations about recent academic publications along with Oprah’s uncanny knack of turning an average book into a best seller.  So my foray into the world of reluctant readers has been recent and startling.


Reluctant readers as people that “may struggle with reading, not show any interest in reading or simply refuse to read independently” (learningpotential.gov.au). These students in a classroom tasked with silent reading either pretend to read to avoid censure, get easily distracted or flat out refuse to read citing boredom, disinterest or illiteracy (www.k12reader.com).  Some children and young teens chose negative behaviour even if it leads to disciplinary actions just to avoid reading a book.  Such machinations are just a student’s way to avoid doing something they don’t like. When questioned, most of these readers describe reading as a chore and that there is nothing that interests them.    

My school has just implemented a silent reading program for the year 7 and 8 students to improve literacy levels and promote reading for recreational purposes.  The program is still in its infancy and we have noticed that out of the 470 students within these two year levels the majority of the students are complying. We do however, have about 50 students who have on multiple occasions been noted for failing to bring a book to class as well as others being identified as ‘fake reading’.  Fake reading, as I have casually defined it, is pretending to read to avoid censure by having a book in front of them but not actually looking at it. Stereotypically, a vast majority of our reluctant readers are boy as many of them are disinterested in books as they view them as ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unnecessary’ as well as ‘unconnected’ to the real world (www.k12reader.com).  

To combat this trend of disinterest, my fellow TLs and I have been searching our collection for various resources to help them find that connection to a book.  The strategies we have implemented to combat the various hurdles are the following:

Short attention span: these kids are not likely to wish to read big compendiums so we have sourced shorter books that are usually completed in 10-15minutes.  This means that students are more likely to read another book as they feel they have accomplished something in a short amount of time. The Libraries of Doom series have been excellent for this.

Low literacy: our school is an inclusive school and we have a wide range of literacy levels.  Many of our reluctant readers have low literacy and are unable to read the plethora of young adult fiction we have.  But they are also loathe to read the simpler books as they feel they are ‘not cool’ enough and self esteem is important during those teenage years.  Hi-lo books have been useful in this setting.  These books purchased jointly with our Inclusive education team have helped with implementation of our reading program.  Hi-Lo books are intriguing to the students because their topics resonate with our students but the language used is at an appropriate level.  They have been particularly popular with our male cohort of reluctant readers. We also have subscribed to Wheelers elibrary for those that have vision disabilities.  These students can elect books with larger print and or use the audiobook function to participate with the reading program.  In most circumstances we can also provide the print copy to help them follow the words.

Disinterested readers:  these are are most challenging students.  They usually rank highly on their literacy results for NAPLAN but show complete disinterest in reading recreationally as they do not find a purpose for it. Fiction books just hold no interest to them. Harper (2016) very truthfully points out “that fiction isn’t for everyone. Some readers just don’t connect with made up characters and imagined scenarios”.  It was surprising though the unwillingness of the English department to support the reading of non fiction texts in the silent reading program. Granted that non fiction is not literature and will not placate the soul, but non fiction texts do lead to life long passions and career choices (National library of NZ 2014).

The addition of non fiction texts and audiobooks have assisted with most of our disinterested reluctant readers.  Whilst their enthusiasm to read is still low, they are slowly coming around to the idea. The recent purchases of print texts on Formula 1 racing and sporting biographies have helped engage some of them.  Others are still fighting the concept but perseverance from my fellow colleagues is making headway. We discovered with a small cohort of year 8 boys that non fiction was just not ‘cutting it’ and a suggestion from their technology teacher about sourcing dirt bike magazines has been a boon.  These magazines with their glossy pictures and simple language style have had some appeal. Whilst we are unable to currently procure an online subscription to this series, we have a print copy on order. These six young men come to the library each time for silent reading and get a current or back issue and read on the very comfy beanbags in our reading area.  It seems obvious that choice matters for recreational reading.  Its only been a week and there have been hiccups but the future is suddenly full of hope

Sharrock (2009)


Australian Government – DET (2018) Reluctant readers, how to help. Learning Potential. Retrieved from https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/reluctant-readers-how-to-help

Harper, H. (2016) Books for reluctant readers. [Blog post] Readings. Retrieved from https://www.readings.com.au/news/books-for-reluctant-readers

K12 reader(2018) Strategies to help engage reluctant readers in reading. Retrieved from https://www.k12reader.com/strategies-to-help-engage-reluctant-readers-in-reading/

National Library of NZ. (2014). Non-fiction. National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20160729150727/http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/creating-readers/genres-and-read-alouds/non-fiction

Mosle, S. (2012, November 22). What should children read? [Blog post]. Opinionator: The New York Times. Retrieved from https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/what-should-children-read/?_r=0

Sharrock, J (2009) Interview with Dave Eggers. Mother Jones Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.motherjones.com/media/2009/03/mojo-interview-dave-eggers/


Module 1 – Library Collections

I discovered a new word today. Tsundoku, according to Macmilland Dictionary (2017) is the habit of purchasing and piling up books that never get read.  This seems rather wasteful when most libraries are suffering major budgetary concerns to waste precious funds on resources that are rarely used. Unfortunately in many school libraries the two biggest curriculum resourcing issues are that staff and students under utilise the resources followed quickly by funding pressures  (SCIS 2014).

I know at my school, we have an impressive 100 000 print copies of books plus additional eResources such as Wheelers ebooks, online databases, newspaper subscriptions and access to Clickview for interactive videos.  It is disappointing that even though our library is so well resourced, teachers and students seem to prefer to use google and youtube instead of accessing information from our library catalogue.  It seems preposterous to me that many of the school community were unaware we even had a library management system.  Their ignorance of the platforms we have in place, could extrapolate to acknowledging that lack of resource usage is proportional to the ability of the staff and students to use the OPAC system to identify and select resources.  

Something needs to change.  But what? The library collection development policy at the school endeavours to create a balanced collection that promotes teaching and learning as its primary goal.  Other aspects such as catering to diverse learners and fitting into the budget are also relevant. All the physical and digital assets meet the policy guidelines, which is why we have this policy but what is the point if they are under utilised? What else can we do in the library to promote our resources to the staff and students?  What can we do to remind them that we are not practitioners of Tsundoku?

I was musing about this problem when it occurred to me that many libraries fail in promoting their resources and capabilities.  How were the staff and students going to know about new or fabulous resources in the school library? How would we remind them of what is held within and what can be accessed?  It was then i remembered this post from Hamm (2016) who sends newsletters out to the faculty regularly advising them of the new and popular resources within the library. This idea seems magnificent to me as our school has several teachers who had no idea that we even subscribed to databases.  Their looks of pleasure and interest peaked when I explained how they could access with ease them from both work and home with just their device and password.  A quarterly newsletter published on the staff page of the school intranet would greatly improve our circulation at little cost to the library itself.  

So with these thoughts in mind I thought that for my particular independent high school library in the ACT there needs to be certain parameters necessary before a resources are added to the collection.

Firstly the information source MUST match the needs of the learning community.  It seems superfluous to point out that a resource is unlikely to be used if it is not relevant to the teaching and learning needs and must meet learning outcomes.  The next step is to ensure that the learner traits are accounted for. We have a wide range of student learning ‘attributes’ ranging from varied literacy levels, physical and mental handicaps that need to be catered for in a variety of formats to ensure equity is maintained for the entire student body.  One thing in particular our school library has done is acquire graphic novels of most of the major literature texts.  With many students of varying literacy levels and acknowledging our ‘reluctant’ readers still need to be able to engage with the text, we are trialing out graphic novels in print forms in several titles including classics such as Macbeth, Hamlet, To Kill a mockingbird and the Diary of Anne Frank with the student body.  Our Inclusive Education Team informs the library staff which students have been identified with low literacy levels and then these students are provided with audio books on an iPod as well as the physical text for their class work.  For our reluctant readers, graphic novels are popular as the combination of the text and imagery holds greater appeal. The inclusion of these texts has bolstered up our borrowing rates and appears to help students understand the task ahead.  We have also recently added Wheelers elibrary to our catalogue.  This has not been as popular as predicted but has provided access to resources for our vision challenged students.  Due to the nature of the licensing, only two ‘copies’ of a book can be ‘borrowed’ out at any particular time and this is restrictive with class texts.  The last consideration mentioned by Hughes-Hassel, S & Mancall (2005) is budget. Resources must fit within the budget in order it to be a viable purchase for the school.  We are very lucky in our school to have a principal that values education and our library budget is consistent.

We need a shift in attitude from Tsudonku.


Australian School Library Association / Australian Library and Information Services Association. (2001). Learning for the future. (2nd ed). Carlton South, Vic.: Curriculum Corporation.

BBC News (2018) Tsundoku: the art of buying books and never using them. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-44981013

Department of Education and Children’s Services, Government of South Australia. (2004). Choosing and using teaching and learning materials: guidelines for preschools and schools. Hindmarsh, South Australia : DECS Publishing

Hamm, S (2016) Library newsletters. Retrieved from https://www.teenservicesunderground.com/library-newsletters/

Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall, J. (2005). Collection management for youth: responding to the needs of learners Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=289075

Johnson, P. (2009). Fundamentals of collection development and management [American Library Association version]. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=267756&site=ehost-live

SCIS ( 2014) Survey of school library collections. Retrieved from ://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_88_2014/articles/school_library_collections_survey_2013.html

Resources for School Librarians () School library promotion through advocacy, special events and bulletin reports. Retrieved from http://www.sldirectory.com/libsf/resf/promote.html

Lawhimsy.com (2015) Word Nerd: Tsundoku. Retrieved from https://lawhimsy.com/2015/10/14/word-nerd-tsundoku/

Macmilllian Dictionary (2027)  https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/tsundoku



#IWD2019 #Balanceforbetter


This years theme is #BalanceforBetter, a summon to seek equal rights for both sexes in in all aspects of life.  Notionally, Australia does have significantly better equality among the sexes compared to countries such as Yemen or Saudi Arabia (Haines, G. 2017).  But out of the top twenty countries listed, Australia does not get a mention but oddly enough Rwanda is in the top 5, which one could speculate that both sexes suffer equally in this war torn nation.  Before I digress too much from the reliability of this source, in land down under, we as women are encouraged to hold gainful employment, permitted to vote and drive as well as have access to health care in comparison to Jordan and Pakistan.  All reliable indicators of an equal opportunity. But as the Australian Human Rights Commission image in Figure 1 illustrates, women are still trailing behind in wages and in positions of power. The AHRC (2018) and Haines, G (2017) depict women in Australia at a high risk of personal safety. AIHW (2018) finds that that biggest risk factor for illness, injury and death for Australian women aged between 25-44 is not childbirth or war crimes, but rather just the presence of a partner in their lives.  This fact is horrendous and continues to be a major issue across all Australian states and territories. One only needs to recall the tragedy of Dr Preeti Reddy’s brutal murder in Sydney this week as a frightening reminder of the brutality that can occur behind closed doors ( Gooley G., & Stewart S., 2019).

Figure 1 – Infographic AHRC (2018)

I was musing these thoughts as I was setting up my display for #IWD2019 and one of my regular lunch time visitors interrupted me.  *Rick (name changed) could not understand why I was setting up the book display as “I had it good”. Whilst I was inclined to roll my eyes and tell him to shuffle off, I refrained.  For those that know me, tact and discretion ARE NOT one of my strong suites so this was an unusual occurrence for me. Instead I asked him to help me with the rest of the display and racked my brain with what I was going to say.  

#IWD2019 display

It then occurred to me that out of the roughly ten thousand items we have in our library, I struggled to find biographies of modern women to put in my display.  Granted we have a few books about Elizabeth I, Boadicea, Mary MacKillop, Cleopatra and Florence Nightingale; but our collection of biographies about strong successful MODERN women was limited.  Even though the majority of our regular readers are girls and young women, we seem to have a plethora of books about male sports stars, political leaders, heroes and inventors, but scanty sources solely dedicated to women and their successes.  

I recalled this video I saw a few years ago that illustrated the lack of book choices for our girls that portray strong female protagonists aka rebellious girls.  Then it made me realise that unless our young girls are given the option to imagine being intelligent and tenacious, they will continue to shoebox themselves into the roles of damsels in distress or tire women of great men.  Magras, D (2019) in her article  surmises that strong female characters in books and movies show our young girls that their voices matter and that gender stereotypes can be challenged. It is common knowledge that books stretch the imagination, and it would amazing if books could challenge and inspire our girls.  

Back to Rick* and his statement… Well in true Trish form, I plonked him on my chair, showed him the infographic I had put aside for this blog and then played him the youtube clip.  Once it was over, I asked him what he thought of the video. He hummed and tried to vacillate but eventually settled for “guess you may be right Miss”. I have not have convinced him to become a feminist but maybe I challenged a stereotype in his mind about the need to push for a #BalanceforBetter future.



Australian Human Rights Commission (2018) Face the facts: Gender Equality 2018.  Retrived from https://www.humanrights.gov.au/education/face-facts/face-facts-gender-equality-2018   accessed 6/3/19

AIHW (2018) New national statistical report sheds light on family violence.  Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018 Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/2018/february/new-national-statistical-report-sheds-light-on-fam accessed 6/3/19

Gooley, C & Stewart, S., (2019) Sydney dentist Preethi Reddy’s body found in suitcase, ex-boyfriend dies in fiery car crash. ABC News.  Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-06/body-of-sydney-dentist-preethi-reddy-found-in-suitcase/10874212 accessed 6/3/19

Haines G., (2017) Mapped: The best (and worst) countries for gender equality. The Telegraph UK.  Retrieved from  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/mapped-the-best-and-worst-countries-for-gender-equality/ accessed 6/3/19

Magras D., (2019) Feminist AF: Hearing Their Voices: Supporting Female Empowerment in Middle Grade Fiction for Tweens and Teens. School Library. Journal.   Retrieved from http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2019/03/feminist-af-hearing-their-voices-supporting-female-empowerment-in-middle-grade-fiction-for-tweens-and-teens-a-guest-post-by-author-diane-magras/ accessed 6/3/19

Rebel Girls (2017) The ugly truth about children’s books.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1Jbd4-fPOE&t=10s accessed 6/3/19

Saner E., (2017) Books for girls, about girls: the publishers trying to balance the bookshelves. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/17/childrens-books-for-girls-publishers-writers-gender-imbalance accessed 6/3/19.

Week 1

Week 1.

I am definitely a bit of a stationary fan.  Somehow, the mechanics of my little brain have figured out, that if I have lots of pretty matching books and pens, my writing will also be pretty and flow easily with carefully crafted words.

Only time will tell.