School libraries are the hub of
school literacy, an essential resource and support for students in their
learning journeys, and for the increasingly stretched teacher
workforce. And while not all students have access to one, for many the
school library is the first exposure to libraries.
Bringing together her research into
school libraries and library access from Australia and internationally,
data from focus groups and interviews, plus a national survey, Lyn
highlights the top priority areas for CPD and training and makes five
key recommendations for ALIA and partners to address key challenges and
priorities for the school library sector.
Among the thirteen priority CPD
topics are collection development issues and challenges, selecting and
evaluating Indigenous resources, digital content curation and managing
digital collections, marketing library collections, diversity, inclusion
and equality, social media, copyright and emerging technologies.
Demographics & career pathways
The predominantly female and ageing
LIS workforce is not news, however survey respondents indicate that
these factors are even more pronounced in the school library sector (60%
of survey respondents were aged 50+). Lyn also found that many are
being employed in positions beyond or outside of their qualification
level, especially those employed as library assistants.
The report looks into available
options to qualify as a Teacher Librarian (TL), with the quickest way
being to complete an undergraduate teaching qual followed by a postgrad
LIS qualification with a TL specialisation. There was general support to
keep the TL at Masters level rather than Grad Dip. However, the
shrinking LIS HE market really reduces the options for people joining
the profession, and many TLs join the workforce as a later career
choice, which presents both opportunities and challenges in finding ways
to harness the diverse skills that people come with.
The report identified many potential
avenues to attract people into the sector like creating a campaign
targeting careers counsellors in schools, more VET traineeships,
subsidising or sponsoring LIS courses for those already working in the
sector and creating a way to acknowledge certified stackable training.
Recommendations from the report
Recommendation 1: Establish a Professional Pathways for School Libraries Working Party
Recommendation 2: Clearly articulate professional pathways for the school library sector
Recommendation 3: Work with educators to develop new professional pathways and contextualise accredited courses for the school library sector
Recommendation 4: Develop an employer engagement strategy with school education systems
Recommendation 5: Strengthen professional identity and professional engagement of school library employees in Australia