Sarah Elliott’s Blog

Travel with me on my voyage of learning and discovery…

Archive for February, 2009

Learning from History (Lundin)

Posted by sarahelliott on February 26, 2009

In the 1960s in Australia, government funds were made available to allow for establishing school libraries. This development was linked to the outcomes of the Fenwick Report in 1964. Standards for school libraries were created and money was provided for pilot libraries and training of staff.

However, initially all the funding went into Secondary Schools – why? Was it because they are larger schools than primary schools and so it was as if the money was seen as going further as it was being invested in a larger number of students?… Was it because secondary school children are at an age where they are seen as being able to make greater use of resources? …The libraries were monitored and evaluated and deemed to be a success, as they helped promote a different learning style and supported more personalised learning with students becoming more responsible for their own learning.

However, this meant that when the money started to run out, the primary schools had not benefited from it on an equal level with secondary schools. They were behind in their development of school libraries and were sometimes considered too small to have a school library. 


  • The money had not always been spent wisely, as schools felt under pressure to spend it without having the necessary knowledge to know what to spend it on. It was spent too quickly and too inefficiently.
  • There was still a lack of qualified staff.
  • Buildings were not always well designed.
  • Equipment was poorly selected.

Although Australian school libraries in the 1960s were far from perfect, what strikes me is how advanced they seem to be compared to school libraries where I am currently living. I wonder, what government support  is there for training programmes for teacher librarians in Norway or indeed in the UK? Are there any local advisers who can assist teacher librarians in their role? What standards exist here for TLs? What policies may already be in practice?

We can learn from history. Governments can learn to be better advised and better prepared when implementing new plans. We personally can learn – what is important when setting up a school library, how can we create the best library learning space possible?


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Thoughts based on Clyde

Posted by sarahelliott on February 25, 2009

What have I learned from this article?
School libraries in Australia  go back further than I would have imagined, as Clyde states there is evidence of their existence from the beginning of the C19. The beginnings of school libraries lie in Sunday schools, who provided books that were initially geared towards general education (as well as religious texts) for people of all ages, as Sunday schools took on the responsibility of teaching literacy to members of society who had missed out on a ‘normal’ education. In a short time, this changed, as they began to focus far more on religious instruction.
Libraries in ‘ordinary’ schools came first to parochial schools and then to national schools, these included fiction, non-fiction and religious resources. The need for a school library was born from the desire to offer students more than standard class readers, to instill in them the idea of reading for pleasure, associating reading with more than just the classroom. Reading was a desirable habit to develop – the emphasis being on its moral influence on children, it was seen as a means to promote the good of the community and enrich lives of citizens and to promote lifelong self-education. (p. 15)
Issues encountered were:
  • Cataloguing and the organisation of resources – often they were poorly organised and not particularly well looked after.
  • Funds – money would be raised by community effort and activity, some examples were concerts, picnics and other entertainments. (p. 14)
  • Staffing – libraries were often maintained by teachers and pupils in their spare time.
  • Location – where should the school library be located? Should the lack of a specific room limit its creation and growth?
  • Support – the use of inspectors ensured that more school libraries were established and their growth was promoted.
What struck me when reading this article was how in some cases how little has changed and how little we have moved on from the 1820s and 1830s! I am working in a school where we have encountered all of the above issues! Fortunately the issue of organisation is being more easily resolved thanks to a digital cataloguing programme! However, we are still faced with the issues of funds, location, staffing and support.
I am yet to read on and discover more about the role and the importance of school libraries in Australia in the present day. But, from my own experience, I wonder whether on a more global scale we have recognised the importance of the school library? How do we ensure that school libraries are supported? What standards do we need to have in place to promote their growth and development? What resources can we draw on to support arguments for better funds, staffing, location of a school library?
We have of course moved on from the 19th Century in as much as the library no longer contains just a few hundred books. The resources that will be found in the library are more varied than ever, the potential of the library as a resource centre is greater than ever. In the 1870s, school libraries were of great importance to small towns in the Australian bush, as they were frequently the only source of reading materials (p. 14). In the same way, in international schools, the school library may be the only large source in the community of resources in a variety of languages. The school library could and in my opinion should be the focal centre of the whole school community…  But how can this be achieved when we are faced with issues that existed nearly 200 years ago and continue to exist today?

Posted in History of School Libraries | 28 Comments »


Posted by sarahelliott on February 25, 2009

Well, wow, what a first day on here! I love the fact that as part of our course we are required to create our own blog. Just by being given that instruction, I have already learned so much. I have never created a blog before, although I did know what they were! 🙂 But, here I am blogging away, adding posts, tagging posts, embedding videos, adding different widgets (a new term for me) …
I would never have imagined that this is what the course involved. I am loving this whole new learning experience although, perhaps getting a little carried away with this aspect… hmm, must get reading soon…
From the teacher-librarian side of things, I think that this exercise has made me realise how easy blogs are to use and I’m beginning to think about the potential that they could and should have in schools. An excellent way to communicate digitally, a fantastic resource for encouraging students to write and even more importantly to think and reflect.

Posted in Learning Journal | 1 Comment »

Digital Learners

Posted by sarahelliott on February 25, 2009


Another TeacherTube/ YouTube clip that demonstrates the differences between learners today and learners of the past. Some rather broad generalisations about Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives, but an interesting comparison. A reminder to teachers that we have to move with the times!

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K – 12 students Today

Posted by sarahelliott on February 25, 2009

I really like this video. I find it really thought-provoking and as a teacher I like to review it to remind myself about my learners.
It’s true that we are working together with learners who are growing up in a digital society. In school, we need to maximise our use of email, blogging, podcasts and other methods of creating and communicating digitally. The clip shows the reality of the striking difference between how much time children spend using paper resources and digital ones. I love the part where the student says that many of the jobs that they will have don’t even exist today – wow! How do we best prepare them for that? We can’t predict what those jobs will be, but we can try to provide them with the skills that they may need to do them – the skills to create, communicate and think…

Posted in Learning today, Learning for the future | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

3 Steps for 21st Century Learning

Posted by sarahelliott on February 25, 2009

Another favourite of mine! When I first viewed this clip, I instantly didn’t like the idea of competition being a key skill that children should learn. But, the idea of competing with themselves is something that I do understand and support. I like the international emphasis in this video, especially as I consider myself an international teacher. I work in an International School in a country that I feel isn’t especially international. The general feeling is one of narrow-mindedness and getting our students to be more open-minded can be a challenge. I have looked into some of the websites suggested for creating a more global classroom and have introduced Epals to another teacher in school. She’s going to try to set up a collaborative project with other classrooms around the world.
Not so much emphasis on the digital side of learning here, but more a reminder of the key skills that children should be learning in order to grow, develop and succeed in the 21st Century.

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My Library, My life!

Posted by sarahelliott on February 25, 2009

A cool clip by a teacher librarian.

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The beginning of long journey…

Posted by sarahelliott on February 24, 2009

This is me!

This is me!

 So, here I am at the start of what seems like an almost impossible journey… I’m beginning my Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University in Australia. For those of you who know me, you may be thinking “Australia? What?”. Of course, as I’m living in Norway, this is an online distance course. Something that I would never have thought I could have the motivation to complete, but this is one course that I am so genuinely interested in that I am determined to succeed!

It’s going to be a long journey and I don’t expect that it’ll be an easy one, but with the help and support of my wonderful husband, I hope that it will be an enjoyable and enriching experience.

Like any explorer, I am filled with both excitement and trepidation. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go!

Posted in Learning Journal | 1 Comment »