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Monday, 17 September 2018

Guest Post: Holly Godfree on Students Need School Libraries Launch

Everyone knows that school libraries are vitally important for:

● Connecting students and teachers with high quality literature
● Saving time finding quality physical and digital resources

Why am I writing about school libraries today? Because we now know that 89% (yes, you read that correctly) of Australian school libraries were understaffed or severely understaffed in 2017. Even worse, because school library staffing has been stripped away for 20 years now, many people don’t realise how important qualified school library staff also are for:

● Evaluating What’s Online
   ○ Fake News, anyone?
● Helping Students and Teachers Use Technology WELL (not just use technology)
   ○ Don’t get me started about the digital native myth. A toddler swiping on a touch screen is a far cry from a student critically evaluating a website for bias. Students need to be taught digital literacy like they are taught other important skills.
● Reducing Teacher Workload
  ○ Those poor teachers who think it’s their job to resource every bit of the curriculum instead of spending their time and energy planning engaging lessons with the resources an expert has sourced for them
● Collaborating with teachers to Create and Deliver High Quality Assignments
  ○ The Non-Google-able Question
  ○ The Just in Time Lessons about Databases, Note-Taking and Referencing
● Helping Students Create a Positive Digital Footprint for the Future
  ○ Being savvy about data privacy and the pitfalls of social media will have far-reaching repercussions for our young people.

Of course, 11% of Australian schools realise that school library staff and services are more important now than they were in the past. They are investing heavily in their libraries. They recognise that far from being irrelevant (as some techno-optimist decision makers seem to naively believe) there is simply so much information out there, finding and selecting the best bits has become a huge problem. This is the reality that teachers see (when they’re reading another copy and paste assignment) and that parents see (when their kids are anxious and frustrated completing assignments that they don’t have the skills or scaffolding to do well).

Well, allow me to offer a ray of hope: We are on the cusp of a major change for school libraries in Australia.
https://studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/

On Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 7:00pm (AEDT), the Students Need School Libraries national campaign will launch. Our goal is for all states and territories to require that qualified school library staff are serving all students in Australia.

We need you to be a part of this moment.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Sign up for our newsletter on www.studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au.
  3. Share news of this campaign with everyone who cares about young people’s future.
  4. Help us make a tsunami on social media on 16 October at 7:00pm and other big push dates to come.
The image below represents an Iceberg Graph. It shows, the difference between actual and recommended staffing in relation to socioeconomic status across Australian schools in 2017. Values in black indicate schools at or above recommended staffing levels. Values in red indicate schools below or severely below recommended staffing levels. The data shows that most schools across all socioeconomic levels are understaffed. Iceberg’s are also 90% below water. Ominous metaphor for our young people.
Further Reading: School Libraries Matter: The Missing Piece of the Education Puzzle

Holly Godfree
Holly Godfree is the teacher librarian in the ACT. Holly taught in primary schools for 15 years before moving to senior secondary in 2015. She slid into the school library in 2006 and completed her MEdTL in 2015. For years now, she has been very active in local and national efforts to advocate for improvements in school library resourcing. She has published articles in ACCESS, Public Education Voice, and The Canberra Times relating to these efforts. She is currently coordinating the Students Need School Libraries advocacy campaign. Contact her via: campaign@studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au

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