(2a) What would a school library of the future look like?

Present your views using the Comments box (below).

When submitting your responses, please indicate:

·         your position, and/or type of group (if a group response) e.g. principal, or teacher librarian network

·         your sector, state or place, and type of school/organisation e.g. NSW government high school



32 Comments so far ↓

  • Ross Todd

    School libraries have traditionally been the locus of a school’s information. A large body of research literature exists that establishes their important contribution to student learning. Such environments cannot remain static, and the mere provision of information does not mean that students engage with it and learn deeply. How we engage students in meaningful inquiry, discovery and creativity to build their deep knowledge and understanding , and provide the information infrastructure and leadership are at the heart of this blog thread. We welcome your ideas in re-imagining school libraries of the future.

  • Jill Duffield

    While some schools are thinking that the physical library building is redundant since much information is now available online, I firmly believe that there has to be a learning space that is available for as long as possible during the day, that provides students with the appropriate support from teacher librarians to learn information literacy skills. Students also need an excellent fiction collection housed in a library. This collection can only be selected by a trained teacher librarian who is then able to promote this to students. If students are helped to develop and keep the love of reading good literature, their reading skills and discerning skills will continue to improve. Yes, teacher librarians and school libraries are essential help students develop inormation literacy skills.

  • Monica Morscheck

    I have just completed a literature review on the evolution of the secondary school library (as part of my CSU studies). I looked at the trend in academic libraries to integrate information commons or learning commons within their libraries, and if there are any lessons for the secondary school library.

    My conclusions were that secondary school libraries do need to evolve in their services and the role of the TL will change. The physical space should offer more group work areas and access to technology and multimedia. The collection will offer more online access and the print collection will probably shrink. But the library itself, even if relabelled as a commons or learning centre, will always have a place in schools. Students value a place to work in, collaborate in, access information in and seek TL support in.

  • Kathleen Compton

    Kathleen Compton, Principal of Denison College of Secondary Education, Bathurst – a NSW Department of Education and Training multi campus college combining Bathurst High Campus and Kelso High Campus.

    There are two main challenges to this question:

    How do school libraries adapt tothe demands of the digital information age?
    What do we do with our print collections when most users prefer online resources whcih can be accessed anywhere, anytime. How do we maintain increasingly irrelevant shelves of books and how do we manage our library spaces to better support the digital researcher? Librarians need a different physical space to work in.

    There is a useful discussion in: http://libres.curtin.edu.au/libres17n1/Genoni_Ess_Op.pdf

  • Victor Davidson

    Victor Davidson, Teacher Librarian, Birrong Girls High School,
    Cooper Road, Birrong, NSW. NSW DET. Wangal Hearth. Acknowledgment of Ancestors Past and Present.

    There is no fixed vision of the school library but we constantly glance at the principles of enlightenment. Transition is constant. The evolving BGHS library moves to a new balance of hardcopy, archives and exhibits (both realia and digital formats). Celebrations, festivals, craft activities, and games are ongoing features that engage clients of all needs and aspirations. The BGHS Library resource balance is shifting dramatically. We are committed to major culling and weeding in 2009 and expect to remove 30% of the hardcopy collection predominantly in Non Fiction.

    The classroom area has tables and chairs for classes up to 36 students. The Technology Space has 32 Workstations. The circulation desk has 4 Thin Client terminals with Enquiry and Portal Access. With webcam, conferencing software and digital projector any class can be made interactive and digitally accessible. Other areas are flexible dependant on purpose.
    Imagine an activitity and we will make a space for it. The future is now.

  • Dr Ross J Todd

    A consisten idea that has been presented thus far centres on the emergence of vast quantities of digital information and how this imapcts on the traditional concept o a sibrary with large stores of carefully selected print resources tailored to curriculum needs and to the lie values which schools seek to develop and inspire. Recently I read an intriguing rersearch report out of the British Library 2008 (citation is at the end of this post). It, as does other research, identifies some challenging information behaviours of students:
    - Horizontal information seeking: skim view small number of pages then ‘bounce’ out, often never to return
    - Spend very little time on e-book and e-journal sites, and databases in school libraries
    - Engage in “power browsing”: scanning rapidly; rapid and limited assessment and retrieval; clicking extensively
    - Make use of simple search strategies
    - Squirreling behavior: stockpiling content in the form of downloads
    - School libraries are not the first point of information seeking
    - Superficial effort in knowledge construction.
    These are fairly challening findings. How do such findings impact on what we think a school library is, and how it might evolve?

    citation: Rowlands, I. & Nicholas, D. (2008). Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. A CIBER Briefing Paper. Commissioned by British Library & Joint Information Systems Committee. Centre for Information Behaviour & the Evaluation of Research (CIBER), University College London (UCL) http://www.bl.uk/news/pdf/googlegen.pdf

  • lynhay

    Many thanks for your contributions Jill, Monica, Kathleen and Victor.

    I think we may experience some parallel discussions between Q1a and Q2a. Monica’s comment here and my comment under Q1a http://schoollibraries21c.edublogs.org/group-1-questions/question1a/#comment-40, for example.

    Victor, you provide a good example of ‘evolution’ in terms of how your school’s library is constantly changing – in some cases shrinking such as your non-fiction collection, while growing and expanding the digital capabilities of the school library as a facility, with equipment, and services. Others may use the term ‘transformation’, and I think Kathleen earlier called for a ‘revolution’. As far as I’m concerned, whatever works, let’s do it :-)

    What I also find empowering is your statement, “Imagine an activity and we will make a space for it.” This resonates to me a vision and willingness on behalf of the information professional in a school to be flexible, to be challenged (and thrive on such challenges!), and ultimately, be an information leader.

    I see information leadership as central to a school library of the future.

    Lyn Hay
    School of Information Studies
    Charles Sturt University, NSW

  • Cheryl Barnier

    This is a response from the discussion forum at the South West Sydney Region Teacher Librarians and Library School Administration Officers’ Conference on 10 June 2009.
    I will admit to adding a few thought of my own along the way. Please accept that any inadequacy of this summary is the fault of the writer and make sure that you add your own personal response on the blog. Cheryl Barnier Fairvale High School

    2a) What would the school library of the future look like?
    I would like to think that it will be seen as the centre of the information web that students are inevitably caught in.
    To provide the full benefits of the School Library in the 21st century:
    · School libraries would have increased staffing levels – both teaching and ancillary staff.
    · Teacher Librarians would be acknowledged as information specialists.
    · Libraries in schools would incorporate the latest technology (eg smartboards).
    · Teacher Librarians would have flexible timetabling in order to be able to practice collaboration and collaborative teaching.
    · Videoconferencing would be available in all libraries.

  • Laureen

    I would also add ,ongoing professional training in the use of these technologies. Often it is the assumption that if you have the equipment you know how to use it and what happens if the technology is only used in a basic way and its’ full potpential for teaching & learning is not reached.

  • Brian Waddell

    Whatever the physical space allocated for the school library, it must support the learning and emotional needs of the students its supporting. The atmosphere inside I believe must be one of being student focussed, meeting their needs as opposed to their wants. I would envisage that technology and traditional sources of information would sit side by side.

    From an inquiry, information seeking perspective, many students just want ‘the answer’ usually via google. What they really need is a range of information rich resources, digital and hard copy, and a mentor to help them on their inquiry journey to ensure its success.

    Finally from a physical point of view therefore there must be flexibility in the library space. It must be a vibrant, creative and inviting space reflecting student ownership through displays etc. Students must feel that it is their space and place, as much as the TL’s and teachers working space. I believe it must also be a place where parents are welcome, not necessarily as users but as supporters of their children’s learning. In other words it should be at the heart of the school and if that’s the case it will evolve and change as the school and its community evolves and changes. This is our aim (not my aim alone) at the schools I work in.

    Brian Waddell
    TL, Karori West & Kelburn Normal Schools
    Wellington NZ

  • Judy Hall, Principal

    I see the building as being of a flexible structure with movable furniture. It is probably best designed as an open space in a centrally located accessible part of the building – not necassarily bound by walls but with movable partitions to be used and and when necessary. This would reflect the inter-connectedness of knowledge. Certainly it is wireless, operating on flexible hours – with a trained teacher-librarian supported by para-professionals. I see it as a work centre, inter-connected – a network to other centres specialising in particluar areas. I also see the need for some libraries to develop/house specialist resources/ematerials so that these can be accessed by all. The day is gone when we should try to be all things to all people. Libraries should provide the map and highway to get to the destination – rather that provide all of the destinations. There should always remain a ‘warehouse’ facilitaty for fiction and general interest material. Reading of (and listening to) books will continue to be around for some time.

  • Diane Ridley

    I have thought about this many times, but it makes my brain hurt. This library has changed three times in the 5 years I have been here. We are now discussing whether the library needs to be changed again in response to wireless installation.
    The school library needs to be flexible & respond to the needs of the school community. It still needs to be a school liobrary but one that is relevant to the school community.
    So the physical layout re the future is not really important as lonfg as the library changes with the times.

  • Kooringal High School Focus Group

    Speaking in general terms, we think the library of the future will be a comfortable and functional space with an inviting ambience. It will contain a number of flexible spaces that will support a variety of learning experiences including individual, small group and larger group work. Access to technology through both wireless and hard wired connections is seen to become increasingly important, especially as the use of student laptops increases and because of what we know about students learning habits. We were inspired by some of the ideas put forward in the e book “Space as a change agent”, by the time our meeting was over we were ready to knock down a couple of walls!
    This forum has given our group the opportunity to engage in conversations that cover not only the future of libraries but a whole range of issues regarding education in the 21st century. It is within this framework that individual schools will need to consider how their libraries might enhance student learning outcomes and teaching within their school communities.
    Decisions about the use of space need to be carefully considered, because as is pointed out by one institution’s librarian, the rationale behind developing ‘learning commons’ is to engage students and enhance learning. The way space is utilised very much determines what will be achievable in terms of student learning.
    Kooringal High School Focus Group
    (Cathy Edwards, Head Teacher, English; Deidre Lisle, HSIE; Mary Anne Brennan, History; Narelle Forsyth, Teacher Librarian)

  • Judy Engall

    What will the school library catalogue look like? Will it be internet access only? Will students, teachers, and everyone need to access it on their pc or laptop? Will cataloguing be done the same way it is now? Will cataloguing standards change to enable standardised cataloguing from a greater variety of sources? Will metadata overtake cataloguing?

    Many questions and no answers from me. What do you think?

    Judy Engall
    SCIS Cataloguer

  • Lee Cutler

    This is a group round table response from the Northern Tablelands Teacher Librarian group. The school involved are a mixture or rural Public, Central and High schools plus a few Private schools in the area who meet every term.

    - It would be accessible to all people in the school and the wider community
    - It would contain both high end technology and print resources plus the services of a highly trained professional TL
    - It would provide learning commons – technology like podcasts, smartboards etc plus a wide variety resources
    - It would be collaborative sharing all the knowledge and resources available
    - It would not be a separate entity, rather integral with the school and classrooms, in fact a special classroom
    - It would be the Resource Centre of the school, especially in smaller rural schools
    - Primary Libraries would not have RFF, they would have classes that were team taught, and were collaborative and collegial
    - They would promote the use of both technological and print resources
    - They and the TL would have a key role in cooperatively evaluating the success of units, reflecting on various tasks and understanding why they worked

  • Joanne St Hill (Teacher Librarian 12 years)

    I would like to see our school libraries of the future a place where resources and staffing are followed with a workable formula. One that allows all who access the library to receive professional assistance and a well resourced library. A minimum standard placed to make sure decisions about budgets and staffing do not put the students and staff at a disadvantage.
    I envisage an online catologue that caters for the “Google” style of searching that students now commonly use. A catalogue that can predict common words and phrases and match them with our library subject headings. One that is able to act almost as a meta-search engine and can pull important phrases and terms out of a search and then link the student to a wonderful array of resources, both book resources and “e-resources”.

  • Lyn Hay

    I attended an ACT TL meeting last week which opened with a 30 minute session on Learning Space Design presented by the DET’s Acting Manager of Learning Technologies. This presentation invited the audience to start vision building for school library futures, with questions like “What makes a great school library?” and “What experiences do we want school libraries to offer?”

    Ultimately what this education system (along with other states and territories) is trying to do is develop a Vision for Learning for schools for the future. I sensed a significant shift in vision building at the system level and I just hope school communities embrace this invitation and use such forums to help build this new vision.

    The school library was discussed in terms of ‘The Transformation Hub” of a school, and the need for consistent ‘branding’ of the library as an active, engaging learning space that demonstrates the successful convergence of information, technology and learning. Flexibility of newly designed learning spaces was viewed as essential, as was the need for technology to be seamless and wireless, with less ‘fixed’ technology within these learning spaces. I think Judy Hall’s earlier post in this discussion thread is consistent with this.

    Have you been involved in such discussions within your school or education system? If you have, please share with us the Vision for Learning in the future, and can you suggest ways that TLs and school libraries can become integral to these conversations at the local, regional and system level.

    Lyn Hay
    School of Information Studies
    Charles Sturt University

  • Katie Makatche

    Katie Makatche, Middle School Librarian

    School libraries will remain the locus of a school’s information if they change to meet the new information needs of students. The library is no longer the only location that houses information; information sources are at every student’s fingertips. Libraries need to become the leaders in teaching students how to navigate through information sources such as databases, ebooks, blogs, websites, wikis, etc.

    Students are swmming through a sea of information. Librarians cannot be mere lifeguards, allowing students to swim on their own and responding/helping only when a student is overwhelmed by the sea. Libarians must become swimming instructors. We need to equip students with the necessary skills to swim through the sea and avoid and/or respond to any waves and undercurrents effectively.

    As students begin their inquiry, the discussion should not be focused solely on how to find information. Libraries need to teach students how to evaluate which sources (books, blogs, tweets, websites, databases, etc) are most appropriate for their research. Libraries also need to teach students how to take information and use it to create and solve problems. In order for any of the above to take place, students must be given opportunities to learn these crucial skills.

    A dialogue needs to occur between the classroom teacher and librarian to create rich learning experiences for students. Librarians must have a vision for the 21st century skills they believe are important for students to possess. With a vision for what student learning should look like, they can address this in their collaborations with teachers. Whether a previous project is massaged to engage students more deeply than simply paraphrasing information into the form of a paper or actively seeking out teachers and pitching them ideas to promote their students’ learning through discovery and creativity, librarians must have a vision of where they want to lead their students and teachers into the 21st century. Without a vision you do not know where to lead, and you simply get tossed about by the sea of change.

    In many ways, I think the Classrooms for the Future (CFF) initiative in Pennsylvania has captured what libraries should become. (@Lyn Hay – I think this is what you were talking about when you mentioned Vision for Learning – CFF is exactly that, creating classrooms (learning) for the 21st century) They have set out to develop the 21st century skills of teachers and students. While they can bring the technology piece to the table, librarians and libraries can and should bring an ability to integrate 21st century skills with information literacy skills. I think the future will see further collaborations between technology coaches and librarians.

    So, what does that mean for how the school library of the future will look? It will not be confined to the walls of the school. It will be flexible. It will reach out to students and teachers through blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. It will be a leader in technology. It will collaborate with others. It will be the center of investigation and creativity. It will not be tossed around by change, but it will navigate changes and stay one step ahead of each wave that comes.

  • Kathleen Compton

    Kathleen Compton, Principal Denison College, Bathurst NSW

    Libraries of the future could include:
    1. Hands on area with materials such as science and technology items (magnets, gears, etc like a mini Questacon);
    2. Hands on materials for history and geography – interactive mapping materials, historical objects or models etc;
    3. Book reading area – web links to online books (bbc.co.uk) that students can listen to, watch, ask questions, hear from the author as a podcast or vodcast.
    4. Reading area that is engaging, fun, different (get rid of study carels that evoke a monastic understanding of learning.

    These opportunities will enrich student understanding of the world.

  • ianmclean

    This is such a daunting question.

    A few things come to mind:

    Building the Education Revolution (BER) is here, whether we asked for it or not. For schools such as mine, which has “made do” with an old, portable library module (the school was supposedly promised it would be there for only three years, until a permanent brick building was erected, but it’s been at least 16 years now, I understand). The “Primary Schools for the 21st Century” program is bringing us a new library (hurray!), but it won’t be quite what we’d always envisaged. (We’d assumed we’d, one day, have a new administration building, with a library on top. Now, new building regulations say that any new multi-storey public building must have an elevator, to ensure equity, and that takes such a concept out of our price range.) So, it’ll be single storey, on the site of the old portable, with an annexed room – to make up for the fact that we won’t be getting that new administration building we’ve only ever dreamed about, and desperately needed.

    But that’s only the structural stuff. What has my brain whizzing at the moment is how much input and choice schools and staff will have on the internal layout of these new libraries. What does a 21st century school library need, and will it be expected to keep us happy in five years time, ten years time, or even as we approach the 22nd century?

    My school’s current administration building is over 90 years old. When it was built, did people imagine it would still be being used as a school building nearly 100 years later? (If only they’d known then that we needed more than one power point in each classroom; what a saving we’d have made!) Because we live and work in the building every day, we usually only think of it in terms of its inadequacies. But to others, its a building of uniqueness. Attempts to revamp it would, no doubt, attract the attention of heritage-conscious locals.

    Similarly, the portable library reminds me of its inadequacies – every time the floor bounces on the way to answer the telephone, and every time we complain about our lack of storage space, or when two or more classes are in the library at once. I can assume the new building will have a sturdy floor and adequate storerooms, but what internal layout and devices do we need to ensure our new library will be able to cope with the changing nature of how students need to access information?

    I glance at my handy-dandy iPhone and am bewildered by the many functions it has, most of which I’ve never had time to explore in the eight months or so that I’ve owned it. My iPhone lets me locate myself on Google Maps (I’ve found some rather tricky addresses with ease, which is great when you’re a pedestrian and unlikely to have a Gregory’s directory on hand). I am never without a digital camera. I can check my emails and update my Facebook page whenever I’m bored. By clicking any URL in an email, I am taken immediately to the website being recommended. I can play all the iTunes music that’s ever been downloaded to my laptop at home, because my iPhone downloads all changes for me every time I plug it in for a recharge. I’ve bought things on eBay while on vacation using my iPhone, and paid for them with PayPal. I can instantly check four preset timezones to ensure my four library “newsroom” clocks are always accurate. A downloaded clever application keeps track of my extensive DVD collection, and automatically links me to IMDb on the ‘Net whenever I require cast and crew information about movies in my collection.

    Most amazing is the “Mobile Me” program which enables my trusty iPhone and dependable Apple laptop to talk with each other – and exchange the latest changes to my calendar and address book – whenever they come into proximity with each other! No wires required. And, as I said, I suspect my iPhone does thousands of things I haven’t yet discovered.

    I assume that, within a few years, everybody will have something similar (and smaller, and more powerful). Including our students, who’ll be quite blaze about having one. Such an ICT marvel shall be as important as wearing a wristwatch was until recently. When so much access to so much information can come with just one little device, I find it overwhelming to even try to imagination what we may have at our fingertips in five years time, let alone ten or twenty years.

    As we know, our students are not usually daunted by touching a button to see what something can do. It’s the adults who sit there, sometimes frozen in fear, attempting to be brave enough to tackle the new technologies. There are still some teachers out there who’ve never sent an email.

    We, and our students, are going to have access to an enormous amount of information, and soon no one may see a school library building as their first port of call. Hopefully, though, the concept of the school library (some of it virtual) as the hub of a school’s information needs, and the place (again, some of it virtual) where users can be guided to navigate information overload successfully, will remain paramount.

    It seems to me that our school library webpages, online pathfinders, blogs, wikis, moodles, etc – and whatever else is yet to come in the virtual world – are going to be just as important, or more important, as the new BER library buildings.

    The physical BER library buildings are what the public will see, and probably how they will judge if the money was well-spent. The important stuff may be (virtually) impossible to see from the outside, or even from the inside, because much of it may be virtual.

  • Jackie Hawkes

    Jackie Hawkes – tl in large comprehensive hs in Western Sydney

    Hopefully, it will be full of PEOPLE (wherever they physically are) who connect with each other effectively and can access and develop meaningful and quality ideas. Just like in the olden days of now, it will have a positive learning environment with supportive, knowledgeable, interested people who share the learning journey with resources formats that are appropriate to age/ interests/ abilities, and help provide genuine learning experiences and activities.

    I do agree that I hope there is a physical space as a starting place of reference with flexibility in layout, resources, information, staffing,etc – the basics. The attitudes and environment bits will continue to central – perfect libraries now and then that don’t treasure people are just not used.

    Variations of core concepts such as Info Process, critical literacies, ranges of resources, technologies (which kids will ALWAYS know more of the mechanics about than we ever will), creating responsible learners, variations of learning styles/ approaches, caring for kids, vibrant/ stimulating visuals, breathing and thinking spaces, etc will continue. These are some of the little things that keep our libraries alive now and our own brains knowing we do make a difference. Sound like all the things we need for lifelong learning again, doesn’t it?

    JACkie Hawkes – SCHS Library – LEARN . . . to do your BEST!

  • Robin Pulver

    Robin Pulver, Teacher Librarian at Moorefield Girls High School (NSW DET) and Committee Member (15 yrs) of St George Teacher Librarian Network.

    The most effective school libraries are those with sufficient staff. In the ideal high school library I would envisage 2 full time teacher librarians – one to act as curriculum co-ordinator and adviser, the other to be library administrator. Both to provide collaborative teaching and information skills training to students and staff. Two library technicians would be available for clerical and technical assistance. This would enable Web 2.0/3.0 to be utilised with appropriate interaction with staff and students.

    The library would be responsible for maintaining the school and library blogs, the centre of the school for publicity, professional development, displays of student work, author promotion, guest speakers etc. The library would ‘hum’ with a huge variety of activities – curriculum based as well as hobby and recreational support. Fiction development would be a big focus and would include new fiction books, ebooks and reviews. Library news and staff newsletters would be ‘online’.

  • Jill McGeorge

    A very interesting discussion, thank you, especially for those of us shortly to be receiving a new building to house a library. So far though, I have been unable to ascertain any understanding of what it will be like, apart from being brick.

    I believe that a school library of the future needs to be as “future proofed” as possible when it comes to technological tools to assist Guided Inquiry and Literacy. The physical building for the next few years, at least, should be the hub of the school but it is the role of the Teacher Librarians to make a positive impact on student learning.

    Even when the reality of our physical position becoming virtually ‘virtual’ eventuates, as Ian and many others have suggested, it is the quality of the “guide on the side” in the ‘virtual’ library that will make the difference. Ask a librarian! If there had been someone to interevene and guide Ian’s understanding of the iphone, would he have had a deeper understanding of its functions at an earlier stage? (He does appear to have an excellent understanding now though!)

    I suppose I have skirted around the question of the physical library. I believe the library has an increasingly important role in schools for years to come, particularly in this Age of Information Overload. A large, flexible, comfortable, inviting space that is adequately resourced in terms of people and finance for quality resources such as literature, technological tools (including multimedia and a reliable IT system); and the equipment to house students, books, ICT and multimedia; necessary to work efficiently, will be most welcome.

  • Georgia P

    A locked cabinet of dusty books at the end of the hall.

    Why? Because there will be no TLs.

    Northern Territory remote schools have no teacher librarians (TLs). Western Australian primary schools have no TLs appointed. Victoria and the ACT count TLs as part of teaching staff, may or may not have a teacher deployed in the library and do not require that teacher to be a teacher librarian. Probably one in ten public primary schools in Victoria have TLs and more and more secondary teacher librarians are being replaced by less expensive librarian options.

    An Australian Education Union survey of South Australian government school library staffing in 2001 found that “a third of all schools are understaffed and/or staffed with unqualified personnel” (Spence 2002). South Australian teacher librarian positions are under further threat in current enterprise agreement negotiations. Even in Tasmania and Queensland, principals are being forced by inadequate staffing budgets to downgrade staff in school libraries, often to clerical positions.

    Meanwhile, since the early 1970s, NSW primary schools have been staffed with trained teacher librarians. While too often used for teacher relief planning time (and therefore unable to easily plan collaborative teaching themselves), they nevertheless are professionally trained in collection management, literacy support, leadership, collaborative teaching and other unique whole school skills.

    If we are talking about equity, if we are talking about improving literacy and information literacy, if we are talking about authentic, resource-based learning and quality teaching, we must agree that ALL Australian students deserve professional school library services managed by professionally trained teacher librarians

  • ianmclean

    Hi Georgia,

    Will schools really keep their old dusty books in a locked cabinet, or will some savvy entrepreneur sell them as rare books on eBay, and use the money to buy something more valued by the school population?

    If schools think they can get by with library technicians “minding the books”, then that is exactly what they will do.

    If teacher librarians ensure that they are always at least one step ahead of their teaching colleagues regarding information skills, higher order thinking, the effective use of IWBs, ICT and Web 2.0, and can prove, through evidence-based practice, that they do, in fact, make a difference to students’ achievement of outcomes, then schools will be fighting over themselves to engage/retain the services of a trained teacher librarian.

    A word of caution, though: Equity is probably more easily achieved by scaling back NSW’s situation to match other states. So let’s not plead for equity too loudly. We need to send our messages – via our actions – to the people who will ultimately have the choice (if granted that choice) as to how to spend a school’s budget: the principal of each NSW school.

    Principals who value the work of teacher librarians will always want a trained teacher librarian on hand. However, if they meet a teacher librarian who doesn’t rise to the standard they are looking for, maybe they will think a library technician will at least save a little money.

    The hard work never ends. TLs can’t rest on their laurels. ICT keeps evolving and improving itself. And so must we. Or we fall into obscurity, like a Betamax video recorder or one of those portable telephones that resembled a house brick.

    Ian McLean
    Teacher librarian,
    Penrith PS, NSW

  • Garry Scale Teacher/Librarian Bondi Beach PS

    I would be disappointed to see great structural changes in the future.
    They are a place where technology and the written word go hand in hand. They should remain as comfortable places where all technical resources are continually update. A place where the shelves groan with quality fiction and where non fiction resources are cherished and used as much as the www.
    They should always be comfortable and child friendly. They should incorporate the school and local environment.

  • Georgia Phillips

    Hi Ian,
    I’m afraid I disagree re putting all the advocacy load onto the already overburdened TL. Although it is necessary to be seen by the school community to make a difference within the school community, it is the responsibility of politicians, unions, and professional associations to support equity of funding and staffing and scheduling across all states and all sectors. I am surprised you are so unwilling to support your “sister” states, afraid it will be to your detriment! Every student in Australia deserves the services of a professional qualified teacher librarian.

  • ianmclean

    Hi Georgia,

    At no time did I say I am “unwilling to support” my “’sister’ states”. From 1991 to 2002 I was an active committee member of ALIA – and gave up many hours of personal time to attend School Libraries Section (NSW Group) meetings, ALIA NSW Branch meetings and national ALIA Renewal meetings – only leaving when I returned to classroom teaching in 2003. (Sadly for the local School Libraries Section, it did not survive the “renewal” program of ALIA, or the retirements of many of its commiittee. Try as we did, we couldn’t tempt too many new/young TLs to commit to advocacy from a professional association stance.)

    However, you have not provided any strategies that TLs can use now, to make sure that we do have the ongoing/evolving support of “politicians, unions, and professional associations”. Yes, of course every student in Australia deserves equity, but has recent Australian research demonstrated that it really is the “services of a professional qualified teacher librarian” in NSW that increases student achievement of outcomes? What else can NSW TLs and their professional associations do to convince other states’ powers-that-be that they need trained teacher-librarians in every interstate school?

    As I said in the previous post, NSW TLs can (and do) at least send messages via our actions in schools to the people making the decisions about NSW schools. Furthermore, we can make presentations at annual NSW DET and ASLA conferences, (as I have been doing these past three years since returning to teacher-librarianship – so far no interstate invitations, but I’m willing to travel). The whole point of evidence-based practice is so we can actually prove that TLs make value-added contributions to our students’ educations. Then, hopefully, we find ways to bring those successes to the attention of the other states’ stakeholders, demonstrating that they are missing out on a crucial human resource: a trained TL.

    Something very dramatic does need to happen to alter the current state of play. You say the advocacy load should not be on the already-overburdened NSW TL – and yet how will the politicians and unions suddenly be convinced to take up advocacy on our behalf, especially if we decide we are simply too over-burdened to do it ourselves?

    We can blow a lot of hot air their way, sure, and write lots of letters and blog entries – and the other states can gnash their teeth in jealous misery – but it is solid action research that is going to provide the evidence for change. We have a prime minister bequeathing grants for new BER school libraries – all over NSW – over the next two years. Isn’t that a strong sign of someone noticing the work of NSW TLs? (Why wasn’t the money shunted into other types of buildings?)

    NSW TLs do need to commit ourselves to proving that these promising, current efforts are going to be worthwhile. Unfortunately, that’s more advocacy work for us. A lot more.

    Ian McLean,
    Teacher librarian,
    Penrith PS, NSW.

  • Margaret McEwan

    It is really hard to say how school libraries will look in the future but I think they will be much noisier and busier than our traditional concept of a quiet space. I thing there will be need to be places designated for quiet study but there will have to be lots of places, especially in school libraries where students can make some noise and work together. I think there will be less dusty non fiction and hopefully more quality online resources as this is the way it is looking already. However, I think there is still a big place for fiction. I would hope too that school libraries would still have a human face behind the counter as school libraries provide a really valuable social space in schools for students who find the playground difficult.

  • Georgia Phillips

    Sorry, I assumed Ian knew about our work at The Hub. And that I was also a state and regional consultant and ASLA cttee member and ALIA branch president, lifetime member of my local TL association, ASLA John Hirst Award winner, etc. etc. etc. We have all paid our dues speaking to the converted, other TLs. Now it is time to speak to those who have never heard about the role TLs can play in student learning. Plenty of examples of strategies, and actions, at http://hubinfo.wordpress.com .

    It’s great you have been speaking to NSW teachers, and parents and principals – I assume you are not just speaking to TLs, as we have all done for many decades. I’d like to hear all professional association members, not just asking TLs to advocate within their schools, important as that is, but speaking on ABC radio and at principals’ conferences, and speaking at ACSSO conferences and starting a real media campaign to see that every school, especially government school, in Australia has a qualified teacher librarian.

    And, yes, we need our own Australian research also. Lyn Hay’s work is great. The work that Ross Todd is doing with Carol Kuhlthau in leading EBR is great. But why are there no units in pre-service teacher training on collaboration with TLs…surely something DET and/or ASLA could initiate. Who is speaking to principals? Who is speaking to parent associations? The media? Mary Manning in Vic was terrific recently on the ABC. The CBCA is part of a vital Alliance being formed to lobby for TLs. But why has ASLA done nothing with the ASLRP survey results which speak so strongly re the decline in government school library funding and staffing? Yes, Rudd is allowing some schools to build new libraries, but Julia feels no responsibility to see that they are staffed appropriately. Ask her.

    And try asking ASLA national and every state ASLA branch just how many government school libraries they represent these days. That question seems too hard to answer.

    Best of luck, Ian, with your efforts.

    Georgia Phillips
    Adjunct Lecturer
    Faculty of Education
    School of Information Studies
    Charles Sturt University
    Wagga Wagga, NSW

  • Allen Mayfield

    What will the library be like and what will it do?
    Once again this will be determined by what the expectation of the system is looking for.
    • We could just have a computer room that is cold and non giving. A place where there are no relationships. A room with 40 -50 students in isolation raising a flag when there is a problem and one technologist will come to help. A place where the search engine dictates what you will see and read. It will be a place of flashing LCD screens.
    • We could have a room where technology, books and TO/I allow each other to work together in a joint venture of learning and searching. The place would not and should not be a clinical space. It would be a place of interactions between ALL stakeholders in the learning process.
    • I would hope that the 21st century library remain a place for the dissemination of ALL types of knowledge, information and teaching practice.
    • Where support in real time would be available for all users including the TO/I.
    • A place where the T/L is NOT a computer tech. or just used for relief or babysitting.
    • A place where the love of learning is heightened and fully developed.
    • Where possible all types of learners should be catered for in the 21st century library. This, I am aware, would mean a change in assessment and syllabus provisions.
    • A place where the written word will engender enthusiasm and groups of students and staff would meet to openly discuss what is read without interference from the buzz of electricity yet where the P.C. is accessable where and as NEEDED.
    • T/L’s must create and maintain a culture of balance and insight into literature and knowledge and how they are attained for a lifetime of knowledge
    • If the role of the T/L is nothing but a computer jockey there is no point to the library or the T/L. and students et.c will be left to the whims of machine and computer programmers. Maybe The Matrix will become a virtual reality.

    Allen Mayfield
    Teacher Librarian

  • June Wall

    The future school library is a hybrid of a learning common or knowledge common and a virtual learning space. Each school library will be different as it will tailor its space, resources, services and skills to specific needs. Students don’t compartmentalise their learning in the sense that they go to a library for information, then to learning support for help, then to IT to finish the work – they need all services and support in 1 space – this will be the new version of a school library – probably with a different name as it will be more than library and will have the ability to change space, and services as needed. The core principles of some businesses such as agility, flexibility and client centred will be the basis of how the new centre operates.

    Spaces for reading, ICT’s, creation, studying, teaching, mentoring, discussion, collaborative work, individual work – whatever is needed for learning. This could mean specific areas for subject disciplines – it should also mean a movement away from library jargon!

    June Wall

    Past President
    Vice President – Association Operations
    Head of Library
    St Ignatius College, Riverview

Leave a Comment