Thought you may be interested in this article in The Age newspaper today - Melbourne’s main newspaper.
The Australian government’s response to the Global Financial Crisis included a massive infrastructure rebuilding program for government and non-government schools, with particular emphasis on creating new school halls, community spaces and YES – school libraries! Many of these libraries are about to open or have already opened – my school library is a couple of months away from completion! Whilst there has been some criticism of budget mismanagement for some of these libraries, the one that I have visited so far was fabulous! The Building the Education Revolution program has had a big impact helping keep down the unmployment rate in Australia to its current 5.1% (Australian Bureau of Statistics – August figures). Australia is one of the few developed nations that did not go into recession during the GFC.
Whilst the Federal Government has held recently an inquiry into school libraries with interested parties being given the opportunity to make submissions – it was all done with a very short time frame and has now been forgotten in the current election campaign.
I am listening to the sounds of the builders working on our new Library/tech lab as I write this and will be looking forward to mid-October when we hope to “move in”. Every school in my area (and probably around the whole country) is in a similar position. The libraries, particularly in the non-government school system where schools have a lot more input into design, are being progressively opened – much to the delight of the school communities.
The rebuilding program has also provoked a great discussion about staffing these new facilities. In the primary school sector where I work many libraries no longer have qualified teacher librarians. I am a library technician, working with no teacher at all in the library and despite the best efforts of classroom teachers I have seen to my great disappointment the decline in information literacy skills of students.
Vivienne Taylor is a library Technician in a small Catholic primary school library in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.