Qualified library staff in schools

The issue

In some schools, students have a head start thanks to the principal's willingness to invest in a well staffed, well funded school library. In others, while parents may not realise it, their children are disadvantaged because of the lack of qualified staff and/or insufficient funds to provide adequate services. School library programs, teacher librarians and library staff help children and young people learn how to:

  • Find reliable information
  • Use the 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
  • Find 'great reads' to meet personal interests and abilities

They encourage independence, reading for pleasure, lifelong learning skills, and they play a major part in young people’s academic achievement.

Our position

In an ideal world, every school would have an up-to-date library, staffed by qualified library and information professionals, led by teacher librarians with a personal commitment to ongoing professional development.

In 2012, we issued a joint statement with the Australian Education Union and Australian School Library Association, which said: '....marked differences between schools are incompatible with the stated commitment of governments to provide a world class quality education for every Australian child. Equitable access to an appropriately funded and well resourced school library and the services of a fully qualified teacher librarian is the right of all students and schools.'

What we are doing

Since we released that statement, as part of a comprehensive response to the Australian Government Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians, the situation has worsened, not improved. The government has failed to follow through on any of the recommendations of the Inquiry, despite continued pressure from the ALIA Schools Group and school library associations, including direct appeals to the former Prime Minister.

During 2015,  we will be progressing discussions with government and heads of schools in the state and Catholic education systems (private, independent schools make a selling point of providing first class libraries staffed by library and IT professionals). We plan to identify and acknowledge excellence in school libraries, highlighting schools and principals who understand the value of this resource, its connection with the curriculum and the teaching of information literacy and research skills. We will be seeking the support of parents to help achieve our goal of equal access to information and resources for all Australian school students.

What you can do

Are Australian children and young people getting the best deal? Complete our 10-point checklist and see if your school is investing where it counts.

  1. There is a qualified teacher librarian managing the library
  2. The library is open whenever the school is open
  3. Students learn information processing skills in the school library
  4. Students can borrow the resources they need, when they need them
  5. There aren’t long waiting lists for popular fiction
  6. There’s more than enough space for a whole class to fit into the library
  7. There is high speed access to the internet
  8. Students are encouraged to use online electronic resources, not just Google
  9. There are special activities eg for Book Week, the Premier’s Reading Challenge
  10. Your child thinks the library is ‘awesome’

Share your story

If not, get in touch with the principal of your school to find out why your school library doesn’t make the grade, and let us know so we can write too. If it does, please tell us the name of your school and anything special about the library so we can add it to our list of excellent school libraries. All of these stories could also be posted to our Facebook page.

if you have used one of our tools or suggestions, tell us the results of your actions. For example, if you have written a letter, made comment in the media, or received a response on a issue, please let us know and then we can keep the FAIR community informed via our newsletter.