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Archive for the ‘History of School Libraries’ Category

Hazell Reading – Challenges in teacher librarianship

Posted by sarahelliott on March 3, 2009

Key concerns in the 80s were:

  • ‘Social justice’ meant that the division of school budgets had to change to support the needs of special social groups. This may have meant a smaller library budget, but also a library budget that has to fund more than before, so as to cater for the needs of different groups – ‘gender, cultural, disability and socioeconomic’.
  • ‘Resource based learning’ became more significant in schools, thus changing the importance given to school library and its resources. Teacher-librarians began to have more of an influence on development of school curriculum.
  • ‘Cooperative programme planning and teaching’ – new idea that the teacher and teacher-librarian should work together to develop resource based units of work.
  • ‘Teaching of information skills’ – new ideas that were to be taught to create information literate students who would be able to survive in an information society.
  • ‘Policy statements’ – guidelines to promote role of teacher librarian in learning process.

In relation to the above:

  • What was the role of the teacher-librarian? Important for this to be clearly determined for both TLs and their administrators and colleagues.
  • Better qualified teacher-librarians needed in schools.
  • Better teacher education needed on how to select appropriate materials and how to teach information skills.
  • Money needed to help replace out-of-date resources.
  • Up-to-date standard were needed that reflected the changes in education in that decade.
  • Statistics about school libraries were needed to support requests for better resources, better training and revised standards etc.

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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?

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