Joint media release - Great School Libraries Honours List

Thursday, 17 March 2016


Joint Media Release

Great School Libraries - Honours List

Asset valued by parents, teachers students and community

Canberra, Tuesday 22 March, 2016: The results of the Great School Libraries campaign shows the school library is a valuable asset for the school, but for the library to perform at its peak, qualified library staff must be employed.

From October to December in 2015, the Great School Libraries campaign sought nominations of school libraries that help children and young people find reliable information; use information effectively; think critically; make informed decisions; work productively with others; build knowledge and understanding of the world; safely navigate the internet; communicate and share their ideas; and find great reads to meet personal interests and abilities.

We congratulate the 213 Great School Libraries which have made the honours list.

Principals will be informed, as well as Federal, State and Territory Education Ministers, Departments, Agencies, Parents' Associations and other interested parties, about the school libraries in the honours list, whose inclusion is due primarily to the committed staff in the libraries who deliver for staff and children every day of the school year.

This campaign was run by FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) with the Australian Library and Information Association, ALIA Schools, Australian School Library Association, Queensland School Library Association, School Library Association of NSW, School Library Association of South Australia, School Library Association of Victoria and the Western Australian School Library Association.

In total, the campaign received almost 600 nominations from more than 200 schools across Australia with a good mix of public, private, K-12, primary and secondary schools.

Sue McKerracher, spokesperson for FAIR, said: 'Research confirms that for a school library to perform at its peak, qualified library staff must be employed. It is no surprise that in the 2015 Australia-wide search to identify Great School Libraries, more than 90% of the nominations were for school libraries employing a teacher librarian.'

'Analysis carried out by the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) shows that the students who most need teacher librarians are the least well served.'

              ACER notes: “Between 2010 and 2013 there is evidence of a greater number of teachers in library roles in  high socio-economic (SES) schools and correspondingly fewer in low SES schools.”

'In addition, the ACER findings suggested that fewer early career teachers are entering library roles in schools and more than a third of primary teachers and a quarter of secondary teachers in a library role had not undertaken any tertiary study in library and information science.'

'It is clear that there needs to be a significantly increased emphasis on attracting, training and employing qualified teacher librarians in primary and secondary schools if the desired student outcomes are to be achieved,' concluded Ms McKerracher.

What the Great School Libraries campaign showed, that far from being obsolete, the school library is great asset valued by students, parents, teachers and the wider community.

Ms McKerracher said: 'The library has evolved from a repository of books to an e-learning and technology centre where information resources are available via tablets and phones, as well as fulfilling roles as a study centre and a meeting place.'

'The school libraries are outward looking participating in reading, coding science and other tech related challenges set by other organisations and are community focused, participating in celebrations such as Grandparents Days, NAIDOC Week and ANZAC memorials.'

'The school library is helping to create our digital citizens of the future by equipping children  to handle  important skills such as how to reference, learn independently, how to use databases, apps and other resources.'

'Life-long learning is being fostered as children are move towards university education and employment and of course school staff are supported to achieve their aims.'

Summary results of Great School Libraries campaign

Nearly 600 students, teachers, parents, principals, library staff and other members of the community nominated their school library and answered questions about why it deserved  this accolade.

Supporting materials included drawings, stories, quotes and photographs to show how the library is valued. Check out our portfolio of Great School Libraries.

Results at a glance:

  • More than 90% of the nominations were for schools employing a teacher librarian;
  • 92% of school libraries were open the same hours as the school and many offered extended hours;
  • 95% of the nominated school libraries supported student learning skills to access and research information
  • 96% of the nominated libraries had resources available for students at the time they needed them - often 24/7 for digital access;
  • 94% of school libraries had sufficient fiction to satisfy the needs of the students;
  • 97% can fit a whole class into their library and in the case of a small regional school in WA - the whole school can fit in;
  • Location and funding were limiting factors for the 9% of nominated school libraries where high speed internet was not accessible;
  • In 96% of the nominated libraries, students were encouraged to use online resources - less access was linked to funding and Department of Education security filters. Linked to this was the role the library is playing in teaching cybersafe practices;
  • Book Week celebrations, reading challenges, manga illustration sessions and author visits occurred in 97% of the nominated school libraries;
  • 98% of respondents thought the school library was 'awesome' because of

    • the physical space
    • the staff of library and information professionals
    • the digital experience
    • the warm welcome for students, teachers, parents and other members of the community
    • the collections - books and electronic resources and
    • the evolution of the library into a 21st century learning space.


Notes for editors:

·         Read about the campaign

·         Read the campaign report

·         Read the ACER research report


About FAIR

FAIR stands for Freedom of Access to Information and Resources. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) created FAIR to give people a way to support all kinds of libraries. FAIR lobbies for well-funded libraries, copyright law reform, the digitisation of our history, evidence-based policy making, lifelong learning and qualified library staff in schools. FAIR was created by ALIA to bring together all of its advocacy work.



Heather Wellard, Communications Manager: | 02 6215 8225 | 0409 830 439