Module 3 – Managing collections thriftily

Gellinger / Pixabay

Our school library has nearly 100 000 print texts on its shelves.  Unfortunately, even though our library is well stocked, it is underused by our school community.  Resources were acquired based upon the presumption that was what the students and teachers wanted.  Instead the books, databases and audiobooks have languished on shelves and data servers, completely under-utilised.   I have previously mentioned this phenomenon of Tsunkudo. So whilst I am not going to rehash the other post, I will focus this blog post on budget aspect of managing a collection.  SMLS (n.d.) lists three roles a TL must consider when they are managing a budget for resourcing; a collaborator, a steward and a thinker. This blog post will elaborate further on these roles and how it relates to collection development.  

When a teacher librarian is being a collaborator with resourcing, they start with the community they are resourcing for.  Our school is currently suffering from Tsundoku so in an effort to change this we are collaborating with the staff and students to access and source resources that will ‘spark joy’.  The first section we addressed was the Religious Education collection. As a Catholic high school in the MSC tradition, Religious Education is mandatory till year 10 and then most senior students continue to study the subject till year 12 in varied formats.  Therefore it is an essential part of the collection. Unfortunately most of the current range of print books are outdated and unappealing for the student body. In an attempt to alleviate this lethargy for library services, we organised several brochures and sample book packs delivered to the school.  One of our team members organised the RE departmental meeting to view these samples so that orders could be made.  The HOD of RE and the Library managed to thrash out an agreement where the funds would be shared between both departments but the books would reside in the library to ensure equity of access.  As our school is affiliated with the MSC order, we managed to secure some funding from them to access newer editions of Jules Chevalier biographies and other MSC materials.  This additional funding was ample enough to cover the purchase of a two print biographies as well as one in an audiobook for our differentiated learners. Ideally, one print copy would stay as teacher resource for new staff that may need an understanding of the MSC ethos and the other would be in the general collection. This collaboration has allowed us to purchase a greater range of resources and fulfill the needs of our community.

A teacher librarian in a stewardship role is responsible for the management of the library (Cambridge dictionary, n.d.).  As such, they are responsible in ensuring the value of the collection is maintained whilst responding to the needs of their community.  In this role, a TL uses a variety of methods in which to select resources for the collection. They can range from book lists such as Magpies, teacher recommendations, popular best seller lists as well as SCIS, Scootle and other educational blogs.  Acquisitions of resources are naturally dependent on the parameters of the selection policy. An astute TL will be able to identify resources using the policy and add them to the collection.  

Lastly, the teacher librarian needs to adopt the role of a thinker in managing the collection.  Some schools allow for dialogue between the principal and TL about the budget allocation for the year.  Other principals just delegate funds and leave its dispensation to the discretion of the TL. Either way, the TL has to manage the collection in whatever funds are available.  A clever TL is aware of the curriculum and is aware of the teaching practices across the school. This knowledge of curriculum and student learning, when combined with an ability to engage with multiple staff members, maximises the scope of funds available.  In our school, the Dance teacher and the Food Technology teacher were both doing units of work on multicultural practices in Year 8. So my HOD organised sample book packs to be delivered for both teachers to peruse.  The result was that both teachers have combined their funds to obtain a series of books about nations and their cultural practices. This combination of departmental monies has enabled us to address the needs of two departments, increased value to our collection, and all without us having to spend our budget allocation.  My HOD was rather pleased with herself at this point.


Cambridge Dictionary (n.d.) Defintion: Steward. Retrieved from

Piemmons, A., (2010) Student Voice, Student Choice: Students as part of the budgeting process.  Georgia Library Media Association. Retrieved from

School Library Media Specialist (n.d.) Program Administrator: Budget management. Retrieved from

Easter – mid semester break

Easter display 


I enjoy setting up displays that showcase what is happening in our school community. As you can see, it’s the season of Easter and the most important religious event in the Christian year.

I’d like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful Easter weekend.


Co-existing or Co-operating? – Module 4.2

Schools are generally thought to be institutions of learning. From the days of Aristotle, young people were sent to learn about the mysteries of life from their revered elders. Today’s schools are very different from their ancient counterparts but the essential core is the same. Schools are learning organisations with their primary purpose to educate the new generations and prepare them for their future. Kools & Stoll (2016) identify seven dimensions that characterise a school as an organisation of learning. These include; a shared vision; staff learning opportunities; promotion of collaboration among staff; establishing a culture of inquiry and innovation; information collection and knowledge exchange; partnerships with community and modelling positive leadership (Kools & Stoll, 2016, p11). All these dimensions serve to build a positive teaching and learning environment for both students and staff.

Humans are social in nature and learning is a social construct. When individuals learn in a social context, the knowledge is constructed as a group has more significant learning outcomes than when knowledge is constructed individually. Most educators agree that the efficacy of learning is improved in collaborative groups, but they rarely extend that principle to themselves collaborating with their peers. Kools & Stoll (2016) even go as far as to argue that the practice of teaching is larger than an isolated teacher in their classroom. They surmise that collaborative practice encourages a professional growth experience in which teachers learn and teach simultaneously with each other. It is in the sharing of expertise and knowledge that has the greatest potential.

Unfortunately true collaboration is often missing in a school dynamic. Team activity is commonly confused as collaboration (Kools & Stoll, 2016, p40). Ezard (2019) points out that co-existence and coordination are often mistaken for collaboration as well. Rather, it is in the co-creation and collective capacity that is the basis of true collaborative practice. For a partnership to be symbiotic, there must be a willingness to think and act together. Ezard (2019) highlights three main requirements of a collaborative relationship including, a growth mindset, a compelling environment and authentic dialogue. Lack o these will only inhibit teaching and learning practices.

The reality is that many classroom teachers are reluctant to work in partnership with their teacher librarians and or any other staff members outside their department for a variety of reasons. One reason is that teachers are often pigeon holed into subject silos or year level cohorts. Their level of expertise is viewed at only applicable to that year level and subject. The other major reason is fear. Fear of failing, fear of judgement and shame. Many teachers reject a culture of observation as they fear they will be deemed as falling short of an ideal practitioner. This is especially true in a world where many teachers are on contracts and wish to still have employment in the next teaching cycle. There is a true sense of fear that any mistakes or miss-steps could result in unemployment. So these teachers often hide themselves away in their isolated silos and inadvertently distance themselves away from collegian relationships as a protective mechanism. This distance, and lack of connection further exacerbates the inability to collaborate. After all, collaboration without connection is just compliance (Ezard, 2019).

Time is another most common reason why staff do not collaborate. It seems futile to ask staff to work together constructively but not actually give them release time to do so. This is especially true for primary schools where teachers rarely get any time off during the day to co-create units of work. Another aspect that executive can assist with collaborative practice is to create a safety net for staff thus allowing them to try new pedagogical practices. Teachers who have job security are more likely to be willing to take risks and try new teaching and learning programs as they do not fear unemployment. Heads of department and senior teachers can encourage the try a variety of teaching styles and thus enable, enourage and motivate them into trying new ventures. Staff that know that they will have a safety net if they fail are more likely to attempt big and wonderful things.

Teacher librarians can affect a collaborative change in other ways. Firstly they can use their position in the centre of the school and as a curriculum leader to create multidisciplinary units of with in collusion with their peers. Due to their access and knowledge of resourcing, TL are able to obtain resources that require teachers to co-create their units of work. TL are also able to create productive learning environments, by promoting learning in an environment that embraces opportunities. They can also be curious rather than defensive when assumptions are challenged. TL can co create a vision that appeals the the whole school, by modelling best practice. Due to the nature of the position, TL can set an example of classroom observation and encourage staff to face their fears of judgement and shame. Ezrard (2019) suggests changing the dynamics of shame and failing to compassion and learning. Afterall, it has been proven that regular classroom observation only seeks to improve the increased professional learning of the teacher.

Whilst teacher librarians can affect some level of change, the biggest influence of collaborative practice within schools is in leadership. Executive teachers can influence teaching and learning practices a great deal as they are the ones that control a great deal of the factors that affect staff, for example, collaboration time for teachers. Teachers get to meet each other and have a dynamic productive relationship.

Ezard, T., (2019) Leading the Buzz in your school. ASLA 50th Conference. Canberra

Kools, M. and Stoll L. (2016), “What Makes a School a Learning Organisation?”, OECD Education Working Papers. No. 137, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Inquiry learning – thinking about it – Module 4.1b

PoseMuse / Pixabay


Standardised testing has been present in Australia for almost two centuries.  From parochial schools and their itinerant school inspectors; external examination boards and modern day NAPLAN; testing was designed to determine the quality of teaching and learning (Munro, 2017).  This trend has lead to schools and teachers being held accountable for what students learn and achieve within the classroom, often to the detriment of learning. Often this scenario is described as high stakes, as test scores often correlate to level of status for student, teacher and school.  Unfortunately, this accountability has inadvertently forced many teachers and schools to ‘teach to the test’ to bolster up their average scores. Teaching to the test as Popham (2001) points out is when teachers use learning activities that mimic the test conditions in that the cognitive demand is unchanged between the learning activity and the test.    

A curriculum based on content is easier to teach and to test.  Facts and figures are straightforward to assess compared to creativity and critical thinking which require understanding of nuances and emotional intelligence.  This is especially true for automated tests in which answers are displayed in a multiple choice format. But are standardised test truly identifying if learning is actually occurring?

Education is changing and it is inevitable in this information age that fundamental basis of teaching and learning practices is to prepare students for the future.  This preparation should include the opportunity to generate ideas, build creativity and encourage critical thinking as a process in order to create either a product or an idea (Markham, 2013).  Markham (2013) even goes further to suggest that skills based assessments will eventually overtake content as markers of achievement.

Skills that are easily acquired, explained, evaluated and estimated are known as hard skills.  These skills can be quantified and scaled against other people’s results. As this competence can be taught in stages, it can also be assessed with ease.  Soft skills though are harder to teach as it requires more than just rote learning (Doyle, 2019). It requires a student to actively engage with the information and using their own cognition, construct this new information into their knowledge bank in order to create something from it.  In this process of learning, students assemble their own learning content and develop a mastery of skills. Constructivist pedagogy is based upon the theory that people build or construct their own understanding of their world based upon what they already know and experience and what they discover in their learning (McLeod, 2018).  Constructivism is the foundation of inquiry learning.

Inquiry learning as defined by LEQ (n.d.) is a constructivist approach in which the goal of learning is that students construct their own meaning from the task.  As the learning is student centred, it requires the teacher to set the parameters and guide the students through the process as their motivation is intrinsic. The Melbourne Declaration of 2008 clearly describes the goals of education as enabling young Australians be successful in their learning, confident and creative in their endeavours and active and informed citizens (MCEETYA, 2008).  Therefore, this form of learning has been included into the Australian national curriculum but only recently aligned with subject areas (Lupton, 2014). Whilst the research shows the widespread benefits to inquiry learning in schools there are a several barriers into implementing this process across the country.

The main issue with the implementation of inquiry learning is that it requires the teacher to hand over control of the learning to the student.  The power of a content based curriculum lies within a teacher, and it’s entrenched traditions of ‘chalk & talk’ and ability to control learning outcomes within a prescribed time frame.  It requires the teacher to understand that each student will maximise their learning if it is their individual third space and that collaboration is essential. Another facet of this disinclination in implementing inquiry learning is that teachers can be confused as to what aspects of the content needs to be taught explicitly and what strands need to be discovered.  This is a fine art as Markham (2013) points out. In some circumstances, content is best taught explicitly before and or during an inquiry project. In other times, it can be taught at at the end of a unit as a ‘mop up lesson’ to address any learning outcomes that were accidentally missed. In some cases the skills need to also be taught such as the ability to question prior to commencing a task. This shift of educational thinking is more psychological rather than logistical.  

Inquiry learning requires teachers to work along with their colleagues and para-professionals.  Once again, it is a psychological shift in thinking that forces a teacher to realise that they are not the only font of all information but rather it is the collaboration of minds that build the best teaching and learning experiences for students.  Classroom teachers who practice inquiry learning in its entirety need to be open to collaborating with their teacher librarian and other teachers. They need to create a safe learning space for their students to engage with other members of staff and not feel like its a personal rebuke.  This can be difficult for many practitioners who through their teaching years have isolated themselves within their departmental and or classroom silos.

Inquiry learning requires redefining success within teaching and learning as measures of success cannot be simplified to a percentage or a score, but rather a demonstrated ability on a rubric (Markham, 2013).  A performance rubric that identifies a students level of expertise in an individual strand. As the current standardised testing is aimed at an individual’s ability to address content, it needs to evolve to identify student’s cognitive ability along a continuum of growth and not restricted to age levels like the current system of NAPLAN.  


Doyle, A., (2019) The hard skills employers seek. The Balance Careers. Retrieved from

The Educator (2018) Inquiry based learning: what the research says. Retrieved from

Lupton, M., (2014) Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6: a bird’s eye view. Access November 2014.

Lutheran Education Queensland (n.d.) Approaches to learning. Inquiry based learning. Retrieved from

MCEETYA (20019) MCEETYA four-year plan 2009 – 2012. Retrieved from

McLeod, S., (2018) Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

Markham, T., (2013) Inquiry learning vs. standardised content: Can they coexist? KQED. Retrieved from

Munro, J., (2017) Support for standardised tests boils down to beliefs about who benefits from it. Retrieved from

Popham, W., (2001) Teaching to the test. Educational leadership. 58:6. Retrieved from


The insanity of NAPLAN

eslfuntaiwan / Pixabay


Eleven years ago the Government of Australia decided they had two main goals for the upcoming decade.  The first being that education provided across Australia is excellent and that there is equity between a regional school at the back of Bourke and one in ritzy Rose Bay.  The second ambitious goal was that the young people of Australia would be successful in their learning, be confident and creative in their endeavours; and personally my favourite, active and informed citizens.  It was also around this time that the politicians decided that standardised testing would show clearly which schools were producing excellent learners and which schools were not. NAPLAN’s birth occurred during this maelstrom.  

NAPLAN is Australia’s reaction to a standardised national testing scheme.  The ideology of standardised testing is that data provided would illustrate to educators the efficacy of policies and practices implemented within schools.  This practice is used internationally to determine education trends across the world and promote conversation to improve best practice (Jackson et al., 2017).  An example is the PISA test, that is used around the world to identify shifts in education. As assessments are evidence of learning, a standardised test identifies what is taught and learned in a classroom across the nation (Jackson et al., 2017). The results are to be used as a tool to direct teaching policies.  What it is not supposed to occur, are the results being used to marginalise and discriminate against poor performing schools and their struggling teachers. Unfortunately, the reality of standardised testing has blown up in everyone’s face.


NAPLAN – also affectionately known as the Devil’s tool by some disgruntled teachers of my acquaintance, was the brainchild of the Howard and enacted by the Rudd government.  Following closely on the heels of the new national curriculum, its inception was based on determining which schools were successful in addressing literacy and numeracy outcomes; and which schools needed more assistance.  After all, whilst ideally we would all like our students to come to school from homes where books and breakfast are the norm, the reality is definitely not Utopian. Therefore if education is to be based in equity then there needs to be a measurement of some sorts to determine which schools fall short of this prescribed ‘line in the sand’ so extra funding and assistance can be provided to those schools that require it.  This funding system, is unlike the US of A. The schools within the USA have their funding linked to local property taxes and thus more affluent areas receive MORE money than lower socio-economic areas. For a country that insists it does not have a class system, it is doing rather well to perpetuate one.

ACARA flexed its new muscle back in 2008 and assured the eager masses that NAPLAN would place all students in Australia on a single scale of measurement, and thus map their skills and understandings across their schooling years (Fachinetti, 2015).  Testing was already occurring across the nation within states so a national testing system seemed appropriate. With seven different education systems and proportionally a small population, it seems logical to have the one system to determine which states and electorates were performing well in addressing a new national curriculum and which states, and more specifically schools needed additional funding.   Instead the advent of NAPLAN only sought to increase the competitive streak between students and between schools. Schools with low NAPLAN results were often demonised by the media and that often lead to many of them losing student numbers, resources and becoming institutions of failure (Zyngier, 2011). 

The arrival of the MySchool site only further exacerbated an already tense situation.  Instead of the promised transparency for parents, it instead just proved to be controversial and and downright destructive to many schools already struggling with teaching and learning practices (Fachinetti, 2015).  The league tables over simplified learning outcomes and allocated them as red or black. It did not indicate schools where great improvement occurred. It only highlighted who won. Quite frankly, the whole idea is contraindicated to the tenets of the 2008 Melbourne Declaration, whose first primary goal is to provide excellent and equity in schooling.  

Educationally NAPLAN is supposed to be low stakes, in that test scores are to be used for identifying and improving teaching and learning practices rather than being used as a method for reward and punishment.  Facinetti (2015) describes the nation wide testing program having evolved into a high stake test in which students are coerced to perform by often well meaning parents and teachers. Teachers are often railroaded into teaching explicitly for the test rather than holistic learning to maintain or improve school scores.  Parents are intimidated by MySchool results and or societal pressures and send their precious moppets for NAPLAN tutoring.  The surfeit of preparation booklets in the supermarkets are just a snapshot into general society’s view of this test.  Sadly, there are numerous high schools across the country that request for NAPLAN scores as part of the application process.  

NAPLAN has completely failed in achieving its target.  Ideally, the data could be used to improve teaching practice, but as the results were not out till four months later, it was often too late to implement changes.  Granted the new online system will enable results appear quicker but online testing comes with its own baggage. But the single most infuriating aspect of NAPLAN is that it is not connected to the curriculum.  It truly boggles the mind how a NATIONAL standardised testing scheme does not actually look to see if the NATIONAL curriculum is being implemented properly across the stages.  So why on Earth do we force our kids and our schools to complete this test?  Ah yes. For funding. ACARA has a lot to answer for.

MahuaSarkar / Pixabay



ACARA (2008) National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy. Retrieved from

Biddle, B., and Berliner, D., (2002) A research synthesis. Unequal school funding in the United states.  Educational Leadership. 59: 8 pp48-59.  Retrieved from

Fachinetti, A., (2015) A short personal and political history of NAPLAN. Education Today. 4. Pp.20-22.  Retrieved from

Jackson, J., Adams, R., and Turner, R., (2017) Evidence based education needs standardised assessment.  The Conversation. Retrieved from

MCEETYA (20019) MCEETYA four-year plan 2009 – 2012. Retrieved from

Munro, J., (2017) Support for standardised tests boils down to beliefs about who benefits from it. Retrieved from

Zyngier, D., (2011) Unfair funding is turning public schools into ‘sinks of disadvantage’. The Conversation. Retrieved from

Library vibes

I’ve always taken my kids to the library.  My eldest first visited when she was six days old. I was a new nursing mum and desperate for reading materials to keep me entertained through those numerous breastfeeds.  Throughout her infancy we visited different libraries on rotation.  Some had great books.  Others had great coffee nearby.  Some had social groups that I was interested in.  Either way the local library was where I felt relaxed and welcome.

Fast forward to mothering toddlers and then preschoolers, the library was where we did ‘Rhyme time’, ‘toddler time’, and ‘storytime’. Each session was eagerly awaited by mother and enjoyed whoheartedly by child and then, children.

Now as a mum of three, my library visits are less regulated mainly cos life is busy. But I do believe that my children are thriving, because of their lifetime access to books.

I just read this amazing article about Kids and libraries do mix. 

Local libraries are more than just a warehouse of books.  They are an escape from the mundane, a breath of fresh air, and most importantly, a welcoming space.

So I dare you.  Go to a local library.  Take the kids and watch the magic happen.

What hat to wear today? – Module 3.2

JCamargo / Pixabay

The teacher librarian wears many hats in their position in a school library.  Each hat offers a different set of priorities and task that fall under the umbrella of jobs.  Whilst established TL instinctively know how to effortlessly wear the correct hat for the occasion, new and floundering TL often struggle to decide which role is most important.  This struggle can often lead to feeling overloaded and beset with inadequacy. Teacher burnout is real, with almost 50% of new graduates not making it past five years in the classroom, it is a worry of mine.  I am 3 years into this gig and quite frankly I am tired. Not just the tired that comes with being a parent with young children, or the tired that comes from a big week at work. I am talking about the immense emotional and mental load that sucks the joy right out of you. Right now, being a bus driver is looking like a great career.  

Herring (2007) defined eleven facets in the role of a teacher librarian, Purcell (2010) indicates that there are five major components and Lamb (2011) has seven listed.  Each of these facets comprises of a different task that a TL is responsible for. But it would be physically exhausting to even attempt to do all these roles at the same time, and if TL did try to, they would burn out very quickly.  Both Lamb (2011) and Herring (2007) prioritise the needs of the clientele. This is consistent with ASLA/ALIA (2016) mandate that a school library should have teaching and learning as the main focus of their collection. Summarising ASLA (2003), Herring summarises that there are three roles out of that original eleven that need particular focus.  These roles are curriculum leader, information specialist and information manager. The three roles manage different aspects of the TL role.

Lamb (2011) agrees that a TL has multiple roles with many of them evolving rapidly in the recent past.  The budgetary squeeze has added pressure onto TL to adapt their roles to ensure their viability in the school context.  This adaptation has redefined the role of the TL from a archivist and curator of knowledge into facilitator of knowledge in both the physical and digital worlds.  This facilitation ranges from the acquisition of materials that build a school collection, text and digital, and the implicit and explicit teaching of life long skills

The importance of connections with people is highlighted in (Lamb, 2011, p.4).  Whilst these connections can be both F-T-F, there is far more importance placed on electronic communication.  A TL must be able to connect to the school audience, which includes its students, teachers, parents, board members and community.  In doing so, the TL firmly installs the library, and its programs as a cornerstone of the school. These connections, also known as clever marketing, will promote the value of the library to its patrons and its financiers.  Whereas Purcell ( 2010) defines a TL as a leader, in that they are tasked with being involved with the school hierarchy and extended community. They can see the big picture of the school community and identify what trends are occurring within the school.  

Gellinger / Pixabay


Herring (2007) argues that for a TL to prove their worth to a school context, prioritising the inclusion of instructional partner is essential.  In this role, TL collaborate with their colleagues to implement the pedagogical practices that benefit the student cohort (Purcell, 2010). This is because there are a multitude of studies to highlight increased educational outcomes when TL plan teaching, learning and assessment with their colleagues.  This increase in outcomes is often measurable and can be used to highlight the efficacy of the library programs amidst budget cuts and cranky principals. The dynamics of a TL allows them to engage in curriculum design and create assessments that promote higher order thinking. Due to their experience and knowledge, a TL is able to create learning opportunities that are often beyond the scope of a classroom teacher.  


It was odd that Purcell (2010) classified teacher as the last and theoretically least important, the role of a TL.  This correlates with the view that many principals and teachers do not believe that teacher librarians are in fact teachers simply because many do not have face to face time.  The modern TL is challenged to do so much more. TL need to model correct information seeking behaviour in the digital world.  They also need to teach it. TL need to teach literacy skills, critical thinking skills and and at the same time model best practice to their fellow colleagues.  Teaching teachers is essential to a TL as it is impossible for a librarian to closely monitor and instruct all the kids in their learning. But if the classroom teachers know the skills, then they can re-iterate the teaching and learning to their students (Purcell, 2010, p.33).   TL are the model of 21st information seeking behaviour. As the information specialist, a TL is able to seek, find, use and create information with ease.


The irony is that Purcell (2010) places the role of information specialist above teaching.  But libraries have evolved significantly in the past fifty years from print, microfilm, newspapers, to print, ebooks, databases and websites. The internet revolution has permanently changed how adults and children seek information.  The advent of technology has speed up the rate in which this information seeking behaviour has changed. This facet of being a TL means that they have to assist students in the seeking of information across multiple modalities as well as ensure that resources within the library support the curriculum.


I honestly do not know how to prioritise the roles and which aspects of my job I should let slide.  There are some days when I do not get time to even have a bite to eat as I am flat chat run off my feet, let alone plan for what aspect is more important than another.  Yesterday was one of those days. Between prepping book boxes for classes; explicitly teaching information literacy and supervision during recess/lunch, I sat down for the first time at our staff meeting at 4pm.  Book boxes for classes we cannot fit into the library, as we are currently fully booked out, so now we prepare resources for classes that cannot get a booking and run the lesson in their room. Most classes have a range of abilities so I had to hunt for some hi-lo texts as well as find some interactive websites and digital resources for the classroom teacher.  We do make an extra effort for graduate teachers to ease them into teaching. What we don’t want is them leaving the profession. So we do try to make their lives a bit easier.


So the only thing I gave up this week was lunch.  Unfortunately, that is not translating to a svelte figure but rather the scoffing of snacks between classes and the 3.45pm biscuit binge.  


ALIA and ASLA (2016) Statement on Teacher Librarians in Australia. Retrieved from


Herring, J., (2007) Chapter 2 – Teacher librarians and the school library.  LIbraries in the 21st Century, Charting Directions in Information Services. Topics in Australasian Library and Information Studies. Pp. 27-42.  DOI: 10.1016/B978-1-876938-43-7.50002-8


Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends : Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36


Purcell M. All Librarians Do Is Check out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection. 2010;29(3):30-33


Kachel, D. (2017). The principal and the librarian: Positioning the school library program. Teacher Librarian, 45(1), 50-52.



Institutionally Yours.

8300 / Pixabay – Institution – School or prison?


Reading is a vital skill for learning at school and success in later life.  There is multitudes of research to show that an early exposure to books has a direct correlation to literacy success.  This success during formative schooling years often translates to ameliorated schooling outcomes in primary and high school, increased self esteem and overall positive well being.  Unfortunately, substandard literacy skills often convert to poor education outcomes, decreased earnings and lower health outcomes. Thus it seems fairly obvious that literacy needs to be the forefront of the education system to ensure that our young citizens have the best chance at a successful and happy future.

But the statistics are dreadful.  ABS (2013) reports that over 40% of Australian adults lack sufficient literacy skills to cope with daily life.  This is astounding! For a first world nation this is unacceptable. How does this even happen in Australia?

Softlink (2011) research indicates that literacy levels are proportional to the presence of a school library and a qualified teacher librarian.  This is further corroborated by UNESCO (2016), that libraries are the keystone in which literacy is built and promoted upon. By this token, it seems plausible that all educational facilities have a library and librarian.  

Australian correctional centres have embraced this life long learning challenges by mandating that all prisons, jails, correctional facilities and detention centres have a library on site (ALIA, 2015). These libraries serve three main causes, to provide information for personal development; to improve educational outcomes and for recreational purposes (ALIA, 2015).  Bevan (1984) takes the point further to ensure that detainees are encouraged to read and to have access to the library.


StockSnap / Pixabay


What a marvelous thing this is?  I wish our children had the same access.

Yes, it is true.  All inmates of correctional centres have the right to access a library which is run by a qualified librarian.    Yet in Tasmania less than 50% of schools have a teacher librarian. Victoria has seen the numbers of qualified teacher librarians drop significantly over the past decade (Better Beginnings, n.d.).  Well meaning but unqualified teachers and or assistants are resourcing the library and implementing literacy goals for our students, and it is not working out.

Once again, society bemoans the inadequacies of our children in their reading and writing without actually thinking as to the cause of it.  Blame is flung eagerly at social media, inattentive parents, flying pigs and the like. But the real reason why our children’s literacy levels are deteriorating is because the information expert is  absent from the school context.

The 2011 House of Representatives inquiry into schools and their libraries detailed the importance that teacher librarians bring to schools and their community.   UNESCO (2016) Institute for Lifelong Learning published a policy dictating how libraries support lifelong literacy. Even the Bevan (1984) Institute of Criminology has mandated that prisoners get access to a library and books in order to improve well being and increase their chance of re-entering society.


Why can’t we give our children the same chance as we give the incarcerated? 



ABS (2013) Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Australia, 2011-12. Retrieved from

ALIA (2015) Australian Library and Information Association Minimum Standard Guidelines for Library Services to Prisoners.  Retrieved from

Better Beginnings (n.d.) Research about Literacy and reading. Retrieved from

Bevan, C., (1984) Minimum standard guidelines for Australian prisons 1978 (Editor), Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved from

House Standing Committee on Education and Employment (2011) School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Retrieved from

Peschers, G (2011) Books Open Worlds for People Behind Bars: Library Services in Prison as Exemplified by the Münster Prison Library, Germany’s “Library of the Year 2007”. Library Trends 59:3 pp520-543

UNESCO (2016) Libraries and literacy using libraries support nation literacy efforts. UNESCO Institute of life long learning. Retrieved from

The Hub (n.d.) Statistics available on school libraries in Australia Softlink’s Australian School Library Survey 2011. {Blog} Quality school libraries in Australia. Retrieved from

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.


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


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


The Guardian (2017) What jobs will still be around in 20 years? Retrieved from


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

BBC News (2016) Libraries: The Decline of a profession? England. Retrieved from

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


Burton, S., (2017) Does the digital world need libraries.  [BLog] Internet Citizen. Retrieved from


The Guardian (2017) What jobs will still be around in 20 years? Retrieved from

Herring, J., (2007) Libraries in the 21st Century. Chapter 2. Retrieved from

National Academy of Science (2019) Definitions of Evolutionary terms. National academies of Sciences, Engineering Medicine. Retrieved from


(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: <;dn=585228491693277;res=IELHSS> ISSN: 2202-4557.