Augmented Reality in the Classroom – Part 6 – Role of the TL

Bit of a hiatus since the last post… I decided to go on holidays.

 

ROLE OF TEACHER LIBRARIAN

The library and the teacher librarian hold a central position in the school learning and teaching dynamic and thus are ideally positioned to engage in collaborative planning and teaching across the curriculum.  Like libraries, the role of the teacher librarian has evolved in response to the metamorphosis of repository spaces to information gateways.  ASLA (2016) clearly defines the foci of a modern teacher librarian to; learning and teaching, resourcing the curriculum, management of the library and its resources, providing leadership, collaborating with their peers and engaging with the school community.  

Even though libraries and the role of the teacher librarian has evolved, their main purview in a school has not changed.  Information seeking is the core of each school library, and the main point of the teacher in teacher librarian is  information literacy and the explicit teaching of ICT (ALIA & ASLA, 2004).  This teaching role extends to both staff and students, as teacher librarians are required to model good practice, and explicitly teach information seeking behaviour and information literacy to everyone in the school community (ALIA & ASLA, 2004; ALIA, 2014).  

All teachers in Australia are required to integrate technology into their teaching and learning, but many classroom educators are unaware of the benefits of emerging technologies such as AR and VR (AITSL, 2017).  Consequently, the task of educating staff about emerging technologies falls onto the teacher librarian.  This is because teacher librarians are required by ALIA & ASLA (2014), ALIA (2014) and ASLA (2014) to be familiar with emerging technologies, provide access to and integrate them into library practice, programs as well as support the school community in using them effectively.  

There are many traditional ways of introducing these technologies, such as staff emails or meetings, but there are innovative ways of introducing emerging technologies to the school community.  Townsdin & Whitmer (2017) suggested AR embedded library marketing as an effective way of promoting the library and its services whilst improving information literacy, whereas Wolz (2019) points out that using AR in information seeking covertly introduces colleagues to the technology whilst they overtly search the catalogue.  Pope (2018a) proposes that AR can be introduced through team building exercises, and Zak (2014) suggests the use of AR embedded resources as an effective method of introducing AR into classroom practice.   

Whilst all those listed are valid methods of introducing the school community to new technologies, the most effective manner is by using AR embedded classroom resources.  By using emerging technologies in teaching resources, students and staff are gaining access to high quality information that meets curriculum needs and student development.  The secondary and almost furtive asset is that students gain access to these new technologies and are given opportunities to experiment in a low stakes environment.  This tactic also gives classroom teachers an opportunity to experiment and play with the technology themselves, so that they can effectively use them in their classrooms (Zak, 2014).   From a library management position, teacher librarians are required to regularly evaluate their strategies and services to ensure that it meets the needs of their community, and this extends to AR programming and resourcing  (Zak, 2014).  This evaluation must also broaden to include any mobile applications, 3D image repository or hardware that the library choses to maintain as part of their collection and digital technologies program (Zak, 2014). 

Augmented Reality in a school library – Part 5.

So far I have covered ways in which emerging technologies such as AR can be incorporated into the classroom.  This next section is about this technology can be used in school libraries as part of resource management, pedagogical practices and collaborative learning.

ROLE OF THE LIBRARY

School libraries and teacher librarians play a pivotal role in technology access.  School libraries have long been known for providing equitable access for information (ALIA, 2014).  The digital revolution has changed the primary purpose of libraries from information repositories to being gateways to knowledge.  This is because a library collection is no longer limited to print texts but now extends to including ebooks, digital resources,online databases and emerging technologies.  Consequently, by extending this access to emerging technologies like AR and VR, school libraries are building the value of their resources and concurrently, reducing the impact of the digital divide on their students (DIIS, 2016).  There are several ways in which a library can introduce emerging technologies such as AR to their patrons.  These include:

 

  1. AR EMBEDDED TEXTS – These resources are also the most cost efficient method of introducing AR technology to students,  as it enables them to experience the technology but without the associated costs of setting up hardware and software (Brigham, 2017; Foote, 2018).  Magana, Serrano & Rebello (2018, p. 526) cite clearly there is an increased student understanding when multimodal resources such as AR embedded information texts are used when compared to traditional texts. The reason why AR technology has increased efficacy in informational resources is that haptic feedback is non verbal and students focus on that as the primary source of information and the text provides the support (Magana, Serrano & Rebello, 2018).  This method is currently in place in most schools and academic libraries and some libraries offer a smart device loan scheme as well to assist with AR resources for offsite learning.
  2. MAKERSPACES – Makerspaces convert students from users of content to creators of knowledge as they allow students to pursue individual projects in and out of class time,  as well as facilitate independent and cross disciplinary learning (Slatter & Howard, 2013).  Many libraries have designated makerspace areas to facilitate creativity and critical learning and free play.  Pope (2018a) points out that free play should be encouraged as it allows users of all ages to learn through experimentation, even if the original point was educational or recreational in purpose.  These areas also allow teachers to experiment with new technology for their own personal benefit or to embed into their teaching practice (Slatter & Howard, 2013).
  3. AR INSTALLATIONS – An extension of makerspaces are AR installations.  These areas, known as sandbox programming, are permanently devoted to experimentation, exploration and demonstrations of AR/VR technology  (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  Some examples of AR installations are TinkerLamp and zSpace. TinkerLamp was the forerunner of AR technology and required a screen, a projector, experimentation board and an interferometer (Furio et al., 2017, p.3).  Whereas the more modern zSpace consists of a computer, stylus and specialised glasses (Foote, 2018).                                                                                                                 Foote (2018) correctly points out that it is not cost effective to implement AR technology into every classroom, and that AR elements are best served through shared spaces such as the library.  But even then, these installations are not common in schools as Merge cubes, as they are very expensive and the latter is cheaper and more flexible for group use (Pope, 2018a).  
  4. LIBRARY OUTREACH AND MARKETING – Library tours, displays and other promotional programs have an immense capability for AR.  AR embedded posters and displays are an innovative method to engage students, and can convey useful information about seasonal events, special collection, library skills and services (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  It is also possible to gamify library maps with embedded GPS tagging as a method of incentivising students to explore the various library spaces and facilities (Balci, 2017; Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  Besides being innovative, the use of mobile applications facilitates the collection of user data.  Library staff are able to analyse this data and use it to appraise student engagement, as well as illustrate the library’s effectiveness in adapting to advancements in technology (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017). 
  5. INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR –  There is scope for libraries to implement AR as part of their learning management system, the delivery of information and the provision of data (Zak, 2014).  The modern student has a preference for technology based practices and this extends to information seeking (Wolz, 2019). Zak (2014) suggests that by using emerging technologies as part of information seeking, libraries are speaking the same language as their clientele.

 

REFERENCES:

Australian Library and Information Association. (2014). Future of the Library and Information Science Profession. ALIA Futures. Retrieved from https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/documents/advocacy/ALIA-Future-of-the-Profession-ALL.pdf

Balci, L. (2017). Using augmented reality to engage students in the library. Information Today Europe [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.infotoday.eu/Articles/Editorial/Featured-Articles/Using-Augmented-Reality-to-engage-students-in-the-library-121763.aspx

Brigham, T. (2017). Reality check: Basics of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality. Medical Reference Services Quarterly (36) 2. Pp 171-178. DOI: 10.1080/02763869.2017.1293987

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (2016). Australia’s digital economy update. Retrieved from https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2016/05/apo-nid66202-1210631.pdf

Foote, C. (2018).  Is it real or is it VR? Exploring AR and VR tools. Computers in Libraries. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=0&sid=6093ea4d-06fa-42b1-8400-75e5bd1dd875%40pdc-v-sessmgr03

Furio, D., Fleck, S., Bousquet, B., Guillet, JP., Canioni, L., & Hachet, M. (2017). HOBIT: Hybrid optical bench for innovative teaching. CHI’17 – Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Retrieved from https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01455510/file/HOBIT_CHI2017_authors.pdf

Magana, A., Serrano, M., & Rebello, N. (2018). A sequenced multimodal learning approach to support students’ development of conceptual learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35 (4). DOI https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1111/jcal.12356

Pope, H. (2018a). Virtual and augmented reality in libraries. Library Technology Reports – American Library Association, (54)6.

Slatter, D., & Howard, D. (2013). A place ot make, hack and learn: makerspaces in Australian public libraries. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 62(4), pp.272-284. Retrieved from https://eprints.qut.edu.au/73071/1/73071.pdf

Townsdin, S., & Whitmer, W. (2017). Technology. Public Services Quarterly. 13. Pp190-199. DOI: 10.1080/15228959.2017.1338541

Wolz, K. (2019). Building faculty competence and self efficacy for using ZSpace virtual reality (VR) software in the classroom. All Regis University Theses. Retrieved from https://epublications.regis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1930&context=theses

Zak, E. (2014). Do you believe in magic? Exploring the conceptualisation of augmented reality and its implication for the user in the field of library and information science.  Information Technology and Libraries.

Are Classroom libraries a real option?

It would come as no surprise to any of you that education budgets are constantly being stretched.

The slow erosion of funding has led many schools to debate the value of their resources to determine which ones need to be cut in order to survive fiscally.  Unfortunately, school libraries are the department that is being most adversely affected. This adverse effect can be seen either by the absence of a qualified teacher librarian and or the complete absence of a school library. Cook (2018) suggests that libraries are robbed of their funding because they are deemed useless in this internet age. I have spoken previously about the importance of a teacher librarian so this post is not about that.  But some schools, overburdened by numbers, convert their library spaces into additional classrooms. When this occurs, most often than not, these schools sometimes set up classroom libraries to combat the loss of a school library.  

According to Cook (2018), libraries are essential to a school’s success. 

But are classroom libraries the same as having a school library with a qualified teacher librarian?  We are all aware that exposure to books is positively correlated to improved literacy (Neuman, n.d.).  We are also know that not all households have the same bibliophilic tendencies. This means that there are a proportion of students who are not exposed to books in the home.  Neuman (n.d.) elucidates that it is the presence of books in close proximity that correlate directly to increased literacy.  

Schools historically are known for exposing young minds to the wonderful world of imagination and literature via the school library.  But with no school library, is the alternative a classroom library? But what if the classroom library is poorly executed? By executed, I mean poorly stocked and unable to meet the needs of the students.  This can lead to limited student engagement with the classroom materials and if there is no school library, then there is no safety net for these disengaged readers. Implementing an assortment of books in a box is not equivalent to the presence of a qualified professional. After all, teachers are not trained in information management and resourcing, and it seems foolhardy to leave the resource management to at the hands of an already overburdened classroom teacher.  

One suggestion is that the classes each have their own classroom library but they are managed by a teacher librarian. 

So rather that rather than a random assortment of materials, the books are carefully curated by the teacher librarian to meet the evolving needs of the students.  An example of this would be a box of books are rotated in regular intervals and that the reading levels within are appropriately aligned to the needs of the students (Sacks, 2018).  But whilst in theory is outstanding, the practicality is far more complicated. Sacks (2018) surmised that consistency and equity are the largest issues with classroom libraries as the titles will vary between classes.  The primary problem is that schools would need to almost double their collection for them to adequately service the needs of all their classrooms. This would incur extra costs for the school. There would also be greater difficulty in tracking the books and ensuring that they are maintained.   

The downside of having a teacher librarian manage physical classroom collections is that they are then limited in their ability to create, manage and implement information literacy programs.  

Lance & Kachel (2018) indicate that the research is clear about the correlation between high quality library programs and increased student achievement. Frierson & Virtue (2013) believe that it library programs that need to be embedded into classroom practice.  They go on to illustrate that this improvement is not just for affluent schools but for all schools. In fact, arguably the lack of a school library is discriminatory to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, that do in desperate fact, require regular access to libraries, their programs and books in order to engage equitably with educational practices.  

There are currently teacher librarians in Australia that are creating LibGuides that are specifically relevant to units of work and use the school’s learning management systems to reach their audience.

This method also means that students that are away from school due to ill health or other personal reasons are still able to engage with their learning off site.  An example of this would be the class novel study with appropriate supporting materials and related works. So with our Year 7’s currently studying the Jackie French novel “Hitler’s Daughter”, the LibGuide contains the ebook version as well as; study notes, worksheets, supporting extracts from other similar novels such as “Boy in a wooden box” by Jim Boyne, “Book Thief” by Mark Zusack and “Dollmaker of Krakow”by R M Romero.  I have also created an online museum with images relating to the book where students can view artefacts and watch short video-clips.  

All of this take time.  Time that I have because I am not curating classroom library boxes.  But if I was not there, or if the position of teacher librarian was not there, then students would not have access to these resources.  Yes, there are teachers who do have the time and energy to go beyond the normal to create amazing learning experiences for their students.  But with 50% of teachers leaving the profession within 5 years, and nearly ⅓ of employed teachers suffering from a mental illness and or addiction, overburdening them further is foolish.

If prisons have mandated librarians to ensure that their collections are servicing the needs for their community, then I think our children can have the same access.  Removing school libraries to minimise costs is short sighted.  It is not beneficial for the teachers, the students and society.  

Cook, H., (2018) Extending the shelf life of the school library in the internet age. SMH. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/education/extending-the-shelf-life-of-the-school-library-in-the-internet-age-20181016-p50a0l.html

Frierson, E., & Virtue, A. (2013) Integrating academic library services directly into classroom instruction through discovery tools; Bringing library resources into the online classroom. Infotoday.com. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-345277685/integrating-academic-library-services-directly-into

Lance, K., & Kachel, D. (2018) Why school librarians matter: what years of research tell us. Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from https://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research/

Neuman, S. (n.d.) The Importance of a classroom library. Scholastic Teacher Resource. Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/paperbacks/downloads/library.pdf

Sacks, A. (2018) Why school librarians are the literacy leaders we need.  Teaching the whole story [blog].  Retrieved from https://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/whole_story/2018/05/why_school_librarians_are_lite.html

“It is in the DNA” – Assessment 2 – Part B

Whats on the shelves?

 

School libraries (SL) are more than books on shelves.  To a fledgling teacher librarian (TL), libraries often imagine warehouses, where books awaits death and then reincarnation at Lifeline.   The reality is different; collections are not inert. SL are dynamic; they constantly evolve to suit the needs of their community.  

Framework = DNA

What makes a SL so dynamic?  Well, like any organism, it’s all in the DNA, or for SL, it’s in the Collection Development and Management Policy (CDMP).  The CDMP is the DNA of a SL and contains strategic data for growth in today’s splurge and is flexibliity in tomorrow’s freeze.  If the DNA of a SL is without clear direction and missing data, then its ability to thrive, or even survive is in jeopardy. Consequently, TL need to be aware of the duality of a CDMP that prepares the collection for today’s needs, and tomorrow’s growth.

Not faint hearted

A school CMDP exists primarily to address the curriculum, the teaching and learning needs of its community as well as provide well-being (IFLA, 2015; ASLA & VCTL, 2018).  Therefore, the policy needs to clearly reflect those needs when framing the purpose, selection principles, acquisition and censorship procedures. Along with other maintenance endeavours such as deselection and collection evaluation; all whilst staying within budget, bolstering literacy and well-being.  It is not a small task and definitely not for the faint hearted. But then TL are not faint hearted (Templeton, 2019a).

The development and management of a collection involves many facets.

Print or Digital?

  1. Understanding the information evolution and its implications on education and wider society is crucial.  TL need to be aware that previous resource acquisition has evolved now into information facilitation paradigm (Kelly, 2015). With publishers rapidly changing their delivery from print to digital formats (Templeton, 2019b), the repercussions on formats and licencing are momentous.
  2. Online Subscriptions – Cheaper? or Not?

  3. Being able to select resources using criteria to ensure the collection is balanced and addresses the needs of the community. (Templeton, 2019a)
  4. Knowledge of how resources may be packaged for cost efficiency, and evaluating that against the value of each of those titles is a challenging task (Templeton, 2019c; Templeton, 2019d.  (Module 2 – Online Access) (Module 2 – Bundling together)  
  5. Being able to manage collections thriftily is necessary when SL budgets are constantly squeezed (Softlink, 2018; Templeton, 2019e). 

    Shrinking Budgets

     

  6. Information literacy is an essential aspect of future focused learners (MCEETYA, 2008). The CDMP policy needs to make provision for information literacy to ensure that students have the skills to access and utilise the collection.  The inclusion of literacy programs only further strengthens a SL position within a school (Templeton, 2019l; Templeton, 2019f).  .  
  7. Awareness of censorship and its role in SL (Templeton, 2019g).

    Challenging the censors

  8. Linking budget to student population is an effective manner to secure funds that suit the growth/decline of the school community (IFLA, 2015, p.6) versus being dependent on yearly fixed sums.

Besides building a collection, a CDMP contains procedures that maintains its value and  its ability to service the needs of their community.  

  1. Measuring outputs and outcomes are useful in analysing the effectiveness and efficacy of a collection (Templeton, 2019h).
    1. Being able to link the collection value to qualitative and quantitative data validates the collection and program (Templeton, 2019i). A recent study by Sutton et al., (2017) show that altmetrics are useful in the evaluation of collections. Power (2019) suggests that both qualitative and quantitative methods are used.
    2. Linking educational outcomes to collections as evidence for continuing financial support for resources, especially digital subscriptions, is judicial.  Journal subscriptions are very expensive and a TL would need to prove value if there is insufficient evidence to indicate positive outcomes (Jubb et al., 2017). Journal databases, like many other electronic resources, may be economical up front, but often require long term subscription.

 Technology is rapidly changing and consequently now, the same information is available in multiple formats.  TL need to be aware of this paradigm when committing to subscription resources as it is more than just a commitment for the current cohort of students (Anderson, 2008).  It is a financial commitment for future generations.

A strong CDMP ensures that a library collection addresses the needs of their community, and the rewards are high resource outputs and user outcomes.  What TLs all over the world do not want are libraries with numerous books that are not utilised or under utilised. Tsundoku is the affliction of purchasing resources that no one uses (Templeton, 2019j).    

An unused collection is an ineffective collection.  It is very hard to justify a collection that has failed to prove their value their community.  It is even harder to justify the presence of TL with a collection that is not relevant.

 

REFERENCES for BLOG

Anderson, R. (2008). Future proofing the library; Strategies for acquisitions, cataloguing and collection development. The Serials Librarian. 55 (4). doi:10.1080/03615260802399908

ASLA & VCTL (2018). A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resources centres 2nd Edition.  ALIA. Retrieved from https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/policies-procedures-manual_ed2.pdf

IFLA (2015). School library guidelines.  Retrieved from https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/school-libraries-resource-centers/publications/ifla-school-library-guidelines.pdf

Jantti, M., and Cox, B. (2013). Measuring the value of library resources and student academic performance through relational datasets. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. 8 (2), 163-171. {Conference Paper}

Jubb, M., Rowlands, I., and Nicholas, D. (2013). Values of libraries: Relationships between provisions, usage, and research outcomes.  Evidence Based Library and Informative Practice. 8(2), 139-152 {Conference Paper}

Kelly, M. (2015). Collection development policies in public libraries in Australia: A qualitative content analysis. Public Library Quarterly. 34, 44-62

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

Power, K (2019) Forum 5.1 – Methods of Collection Analysis. ETL503 Discussion Forum. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147540_1&message_id=_2304873_1

Softlink (2018) Australia and New Zealand school library survey. Retrieved from https://www.softlinkint.com/downloads/2018_Softlink_Australian_and_New_Zealand_School_Library_Survey_Report.pdf

Sutton, S., Miles, R., and Konkiel, S., (2017) Is what’s “Trending” whats worth purchasing? Insights from a national study of collection development librarians. The Serials Librarian. Vol 72 (1-4) pp.134-143. DOI 10.1080/0361526X.2017.1297593

Templeton, T. (2019a) Benign or Malignant. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/24/benign-or-malignant-how-do-you-diagnose/

Templeton, T. (2019b) Shatzins files – publishers to perish. Forum 1.1.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147529_1&message_id=_2152285_1

Templeton, T. (2019c) Online access. Forum 2.3.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147533_1&message_id=_2185290_1

Templeton, T. (2019d) Bundling resources. Forum 2.3.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147533_1&message_id=_2185169_1

Templeton, T. (2019e) Module 3 – Managing collections thriftily. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/04/20/managing-collections-thriftily/

Templeton, T. (2019f) Module 5.3a– Information literacy. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/05/21/module-5-3a-information-literacy/

Templeton, T. (2019g) Modules 2 & 6 0 13 reasons why – censorship and selection. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/12/13-reasons-why-censorship-and-selection/

Templeton, T. (2019h) Forum 3.1.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147536_1&message_id=_2249448_1

Templeton, T. (2019i) Module 5.1 – Evaluating the collection.- Keeping it real. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/04/29/evaluating-the-collection-keeping-it-real/

Templeton, T. (2019j) Module 1 – Library collections. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/11/library-collections/

Templeton, T. (2019k) Module 1 – Curriculum + information + access = Superhero. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/13/curriculum-information-access-superhero/

Templeton, T. (2019l) Reluctant readers – would fact be better than fiction? Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/11/reluctant-readers-would-facts-be-better-than-fiction/

 

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? 

 

References

ABS (2013) Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Australia, 2011-12. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4228.0Main+Features202011-12

ALIA (2015) Australian Library and Information Association Minimum Standard Guidelines for Library Services to Prisoners.  Retrieved from https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-and-guidelines/alia-policies/prison-guidelines

Better Beginnings (n.d.) Research about Literacy and reading. Retrieved from https://www.better-beginnings.com.au/research/research-about-literacy-and-reading

Bevan, C., (1984) Minimum standard guidelines for Australian prisons 1978 (Editor), Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved from https://aic.gov.au/publications/archive/min-standard-guidelines-prisons

House Standing Committee on Education and Employment (2011) School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=ee/schoollibraries/report.htm

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 http://uil.unesco.org/literacy/libraries-and-literacy-using-libraries-support-national-literacy-efforts-uil-policy-brief-6

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 https://hubinfo.wordpress.com/background/few-statistics/

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?

 

References

 

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

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

 

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.  

BUT THEY ARE WRONG!

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.  

References  

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

https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/policy_tls_in_australia.pdf

 

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.