On Tuesday 4 December 2012 SCIS conducted a consultation workshop with SCIS partners discussing future priorities in our support for school libraries.
Judy O’Connell, Course Director (Teacher Librarianship) at Charles Sturt University started the day with a set of challenges that covered collections, search, cataloguing, curriculum, interoperability and access. Her presentation Strategic directions for school libraries reinforced the context within which education libraries need to work. These included curriculum, the cloud and game-based learning in a library environment which is both physical and virtual.
The challenge to participants was to rethink library catalogues, which should no longer be seen as simply tools for locating records. Interrogation of data from different data pools requires new thinking and a new user focus. We need to change our technology interface to provide a natural, predictive and responsive search capacity. Web 3.0 challenges us to make library search into a discovery interface.
“How does search impact the way students think, and the way we organise information access?”
Judy pointed out that the search experience influences how students see information structure. Students conceptualise information and the search environment differently, and the way they search should influence the way that we organise information. The learning technologies environment has changed since library management systems were first designed, and we must not lose sight of what is happening in other areas of information retrieval. The importance of metadata developments, including Resource Description and Access (RDA), mean we cannot take old thinking into new information environments.
On 12 July 2010 Education Services Australia (ESA) was represented at the Adelaide hearing of the Parliamentary Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools. Also appearing were representatives of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the School Library Association of South Australia (SLASA), the Joint Use Libraries Association of Australia, the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Public Libraries South Australia, Friends of Libraries Australia and the University of South Australia (UniSA).
Thanks to the Parliament of Australia’s live broadcasting program we were able to listen to the hearing from Melbourne, posting some of the significant issues from the hearing to twitter! ESA’s position is that national collaborative services such as SCIS and edna provide essential tools for teacher librarians in delivering services to their users. Our key recommendation is for an adequate distribution of funding for the ongoing development of school library staff in both specific library-related professional development and as a key element of whole school development.
ALIA and UniSA both argued for a need to expand tertiary education options for teacher librarians and to educate teachers in information literacy skills. The Friends of Libraries Australia emphasised that the relationship and connection between school and public libraries needs to occur more systematically and can’t work without teacher librarians.
An article in AdelaideNow highlights the popularity of libraries in South Australia and briefly reports on the concerns about teacher librarian shortages and funding which were raised at the hearing.
Education Services Australia, as SCIS’s parent body, has put forward a submission to the inquiry arguing for an adequate distribution of funding for the ongoing development of school library staff in both specific library-related professional development and as part of generic whole school development, and further discusses how major policies and investments such as the Australian Curriculum and theDigital Education Revolution impact strongly on the use of resources that support teaching and learning in schools and argues that the work of teacher librarians has become even more important as a result. Representatives of Education Services Australia have been invited to attend the hearing in Adelaide on July 12.
All submissions, including that submitted by Education Services Australia (No.119), are available in PDF format (excepting those designated Parliamentary-in-Confidence) from the inquiry’s submissions page. An extraordinarily diverse array of individuals and groups have submitted responses to the inquiry – and it must be said it is heartening to see organisations not directly related to libraries such as the Queensland Teachers’ Union (No. 240), and the Copyright Agency (No.289) putting submissions forward which strongly defend the importance of the role played by libraries and teacher librarians in schools, alongside library organisations such as ALIA (No.332) and ASLA (No.327).
This inquiry has the potential to strongly affect all school libraries and librarians, so do take the time to review some of the submissions and to follow the outcomes of the hearings – and get in contact with your library associations to put your 2 cents in too!