SCISConnections

Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools

On 10 March 2010 the then Minister for Education, Hon Julia Gillard, asked the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Training to inquire into and report on school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools. The Committee has received hundreds of submissions from an extraordinarily diverse range of individuals and organisations. Public hearings with key individuals and representatives of those organisations have been commissioned. Most of the submissions and transcripts of the hearings are available on the Committee’s website: www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/edt/schoollibraries/index.htm.

Education Services Australia’s submission to the Committee argues 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 wholeschool development. The submission argues that the work of teacher librarians has become even more important as a result of major policies and investments such as the Australian Curriculum and the Digital Education Revolution, which impact strongly on the use of resources that support teaching and learning in schools. Stacey Hattensen and Pru Mitchell of Education Services Australia were invited to attend the public hearing in Adelaide on Monday 12 July 2010.

The Inquiry has been the subject of much discussion and debate since the first rush to prepare submissions – not just in teacher librarians’ blogs and discussion lists but in daily newspapers, on the radio and in journals. A compilation of newspaper articles, radio interviews and media releases is featured on the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) school libraries web page: www.asla.org.au/schoollibraries. In his article ‘On the inquiry’ (Synergy, vol 8, no 1, 2010), Dr Ross Todd argues that ‘the objectives of the Digital Education Revolution and Australian Curriculum will only come to fruition if we also invest in appropriately staffed and resourced school libraries’.

Look out for a further report on the Inquiry in the next issue of Connections and, in the meantime, keep an eye on the SCIS blog at http://scis.edublogs.org for regular updates. The Committee is aiming to table its report to the House of Representatives by the end of August 2010.