Shortfall in qualified school library staff highlighted by new data
Industry bodies call on governments to invest in teacher librarians and literacy
According to the latest Australian industry data, schools with 200 or more students should employ at least one qualified teacher librarian on staff. This increases to at least two for schools with approximately 550 students, rising to eight for secondary schools with more than 3,300 students.
However, while the overall ratio of teachers to students has improved over the last 27 years, the number of teacher librarians has declined, especially in schools in disadvantaged areas. This deficit has a direct impact on young people’s literacy levels say the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and should be addressed by state and territory governments.
Anne Girolami, for ALIA Schools, said, 'International research shows that teen reading levels in Australia have been declining at the same time as schools have been pulling back on the number of teacher librarians they employ. In fact, many schools no longer have a qualified teacher librarian on staff. This is a direct result of principals juggling tight budgets and most often impacts students from low socio economic backgrounds – those who arguably need our help most. Governments must recognise this issue and take action'.
Margo Pickworth, President of ASLA, says ‘In an increasingly information-based society, together with our declining literacy standards, one of the many elements of a world class education for all students is access to professionally staffed and well-resourced school libraries. There is a high correlation between the presence of a qualified teacher-librarian in an accessible well-resourced school library and student achievement'.
Supported by ALIA, ASLA, other industry bodies, students, teachers, parents, authors and the media, Students Need School Libraries is campaigning for more qualified staff in school libraries. To add your voice, visit the website.
For more information:
ALIA media contacts
 Recommended minimum information services staffing levels https://read.alia.org.au/asla-alia-recommended-minimum-information-servi...
 One teacher per 18.7 students in primary schools and per 13 students in secondary schools in 1993, compared with 2016 figures of 15.2 and 12.1, respectively. Learning for the Future. 2nd edition. p.68. ACARA (2016). National report on schooling in Australia, p. 22. Canberra: ACARA.
 Weldon, P. R. (2016). What the Staff in Australia’s Schools surveys tell us about teachers working in school libraries. Australian Council for Educational Research. https://research.acer.edu.au/tll_misc/25