Because it’s important

October has been an utter drought for me on the blog front, even though there has been a million things about which I have thought ‘I must write a post about that…’.

I’ve super-charged my brain with new ideas at the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, spent two weeks in South Asia, pondered the Americanization of ‘Vulture’s Gate’, made a big leap forward with the new novel and scribbled lists of ideas for future blogs in three different notebooks (yes, I know, counterproductive).

But when uber-librarian Pat Pledger of Read Plus emailed me about a recent survey of government school libraries, I knew it had to be the topic for the first blog I would write to break my drought. I know how important teacher-librarians are to the literary life of a school. I feel their presence as soon as I walk into a school library. Schools that are lucky enough to have libraries staffed by a dynamic teacher-librarians invariably have powerful literary cultures. In the past decade of visiting schools, I’ve grown to deeply admire teacher-librarians. The impact they have on the developing literacy of children is crucial in creating skilled readers and writers.

Following is the results of the survey, courtesy of Pat Pledger, and a link to a petition urging the federal government to ensure that all Australian primary and secondary students have access to a school library and a qualified teacher librarian:

The ASLRP survey undertaken on the behest of ASLA and ALIA shows a
great inequity in school library staffing and funding across Australia.

The survey showed that 35% of government school libraries have
no teacher librarians. Approximately two thirds of all schools have
either no teacher librarian or less than one Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
working in their school library. After the Northern Territory (5%),
Tasmania (50%), Western Australia (almost 60%) and Victoria
(65%) have the lowest number of TLs employed K-12 across all
sectors. Instead there are high numbers of library technicians
in Tasmania and Victoria and library officers in Western Australia.

As it has done in the past, the federal government is in a position to
influence state school library funding and staffing. To do this, they
can: collect national data on school library staffing, funding, and
scheduling; tie funding so that states can and must adequately staff and
fund school library programs and services; require that literacy
programs and other national curricula should explicitly recognize the
central role school libraries have in student achievement, literacy
attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success; develop national
school library standards; increase teacher librarian training positions
in university programs.

All Australian students deserve 21st century schools staffed by 21st
century professionally qualified teacher librarians.

Join in signing the petition now

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Every adult was once a child and the child inside them never disappears.”

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