School Library Roles: a Process of Change

SLAV Conference 31/10/14
The conference opened with Rhonda Powling (Head of Library and Information Services at Whitefriars College) discussing the evolution of school library roles. So often we hear gloom and doom stories about school libraries. Rhonda is optimistic for the future and drew our attention to the futuristic thinking of Mark Pesce and the 2013 ALIA discussion paper, Library and Information Services: the future of the profession themes and scenarios 2025. The three themes identified were convergence, connection and the golden age of information. Convergence generally means fewer jobs but require skills, connection is a library strength and the golden age of information is full of possibilities for libraries.
Libraries will flourish with professional expertise, connectedness, by building relationships with the community and by empowering clients. It is time to let go and move on. School library staff need to be open to challenges, creative, team based, collaborative and focused on the needs of community. Rhonda told us to promote our library and services, recognise the good work of teachers and share what you are doing.
After this introduction, a panel of library staff with diverse roles, experience and qualifications explored the roles and skills required in school libraries. A few key terms were mentioned by more than one person.
  • Stay positive
  • Ask questions – why do we do it this way? Is it good for the kids?
  • Be flexible
  • form a bridge
A group discussion followed about roles with the outcome being that school library staff need to:
  • Own your job
  • Own your job description
  • Own your personal learning

Jack Martin from the Public Record Office Victoria told us about the resources they offer.

  • Public records of people, places and events
  • Teaching resources and online exhibitions
  • Online research resources
  • Catalogue, guides, indexes, digitised records
  • Currently producing digital content for the Anniversary of Gallipoli
  • Tours
  • Indigenous history resources
  • Sustainability resources
  • Historic plans
  • Scholarly research
After lunch we got the chance to play with two of a number of applications. I chose to explore Google Forms and Evernote. While we only got a taste of the power of these applications, I could see how they could be used in schools to great effect. For more information about Google Forms, have a look at this Bright Ideas article.
Reluctantly we left the sandpit session and took a tour of ABC Splash. A great addition to the teacher librarian’s toolkit. ABC Splash provides a platform to bring digital learning resources mapped to the Australian Curriculum to students, teachers and parents. Currently these resources go to year 10 level, hopefully they will expand to year 11 and 12 as the National Curriculum evolves.
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