The people over at the Teacher Librarian lobby group’s website, The Hub, recently reported on the DEEWR’s poor showing at the Canberra House Standing Committee on Education and Training’s “Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools”‘.
I sent in a reply to the web article regarding some of the issues mentioned in the hearing that day and thought I’d add it below as things have arisen that I’m in the process of investigating now while I visit Canada for the next few weeks.
I think it’s interesting to see the numbers that are tossed about when it comes to TLs needed and the idea of shortages. There is only a shortage of TLs if schools will actually have TLs in their libraries. Most schools aren’t even looking to fill TL positions; they opt for untrained teachers, techs, librarians etc. or no one in the library.
I’m over in Canada at the moment on a holiday to my home province (Saskatchewan). In a small fit of nostalgia I went to my old high school (2000+) and met with the principal who is a slight acquaintance from the old days. I asked if I could have a look at the library and maybe talk to the TL as I was just finishing up my TL studies and she waved her hand and blithely said, “Sure go ahead, but we don’t have Teacher Librarians anymore. We got rid of them, we now use technicians and Learning Leaders, who are much better”. So a bit of an eye-opener for me that they are opting to neatly side-step TLs with yet another option that I’d never even heard of (I’m searching online to find out more about Learning Leaders today). I was interested to see when I went into the library that it looked identical to when I attended school there 30+ years ago – perhaps the library is being neatly side-stepped too, though I did see students studying (couldn’t spot any techs or LL’s). I think this antiquated stereotype of TLs and school libraries and the ignorance in the rest of the teaching profession to what we do (as also evidenced in the responses from DEEWR during the above inquiry hearing) is causing real damage to our profession worldwide. I am really keeping my fingers crossed that something positive comes out of all the hard work being put into this inquiry and that Australia may possibly lead the way in turning the tide.
So what is this Learning Leader position they have in Canada/Saskatchewan/my old school and how does it differ from what TL’s do? I’m in the process of finding out!