Students Need School Libraries - Interview (October 2020)

How did the Students Need School Libraries campaign get started?

The Students Needs School Libraries campaign was created by the School Library Coalition, a group of representatives from Australian state and national school library associations. A leadership team for the campaign was formed and they handle the daily operations of the campaign, while the Coalition helps to fund and support the campaign. The best thing about the campaign is that anyone can be involved. The Coalition decided initially in the formation of the campaign to ask anyone who wanted to be involved to join. People from around Australia and internationally signed up to the campaign’s working group. Collecting resources, helping to guide the campaign’s focus, sharing flyers and passing the word, the campaign’s 150 plus strong team make this a campaign for school libraries formed and run by people who care about school libraries.

What are the goals of Students Need School Libraries?

Our mission is to ensure that all students in Australia have access to high quality school library services run by qualified staff. We know this will ensure that students are equipped with the research and literacy skills they need throughout their life. Our long-term goals include regular media coverage in all states and territories, gathering research about school library staffing, petitions to parliament about school library staffing, and spreading our message of the importance of school libraries through the sharing of films, posters and flyers. We also have more specific goals, like the goal to recruit over 50 supporting organisations and over 100 author and illustrator ambassadors. Currently we have over 50 amazing author and illustrator ambassadors who share their support and encouragement for the campaign on our Wall of Support - studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/wallofsupport. Any author, illustrator or book professional can add their voice to this amazing team by submitting a photo or statement.

Wall of Support

Who is your intended audience?

The intended audience of the Students Need School Libraries campaign is parents, grandparents, carers and families. We know parents and families care deeply about their children and value their education. We know parents want to do anything to equip their children for the future and this includes media literacy skills, the ability to evaluate websites, be safe online, find the resources they need for assignments, reduce their assignment stress and fall in love with reading. These are all things school libraries do for students. We also know that most parents assume (often incorrectly) that their child’s school has a strong school library. We hope that by informing parents about the power of school libraries they will talk to their principals, school boards and local politicians about ensuring their school has a school library run by a team of qualified school library staff. Our audience also includes those involved in the school library sector, school staff, principals, school boards and politicians. There is something everyone can do to help the campaign.

What resources do you provide?

The Students Need School Libraries campaign website offers a range of resources that can be downloaded and shared - studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/resources There are resources for everyone and every situation. We encourage everyone to download and share the 7 Signs Your Child Needs Help From Their School Libraries flyer with local businesses and parent groups. It outlines the ways school libraries can help students. One of our top favourite resources are the 17 short films that explain what school libraries can and should be like, featuring authors, school library staff, teachers, principals and others who know and care about school libraries. We encourage anyone to use the presentation slides and speaker notes to give a presentation about school libraries, maybe to their parent and friends group. There are also parent brochures, newsletter templates, a media kit, supporter badges and more, all of which can be found on the campaign’s website. We also encourage people to reach out and let us know if they have an idea for a resource that might be helpful to them. We are always creating and adding more resources to our collection.

Why is it important to have qualified library staff running a school library?

Qualified school library staff bring expertise, and expertise makes a significant, positive difference to students and teachers. We increase students’ reading ability, media literacy, digital literacy and research literacy skills. Qualified school library staff impact the practice of every teacher and the learning of every student in a school when they  help teachers to find the resources they need for lessons; impart the love of reading to students; find just the right book or resource a student or teacher needs; provide just-in-time lessons on referencing, assignment writing or researching; or teach students about website evaluation, fake news and online safety. Qualified staff curate collections and build databases and provide the structure for students and teachers to find the resources they need and learn the problem solving and searching skills that extend far beyond their school lives. They provide enriching experiences such as author and illustrator visits, makerspace activities, technology integration, fun activities, a safe and caring environment and so much more. The experiences qualified school library staff provide to their students, teachers and school communities are as diverse and vibrant as the school library staff themselves. We encourage all parents to check what is happening in their school library, get involved and support their school library teams.

How can people connect with the Students Need School Libraries?

There are many ways you can connect with the Students Need School Libraries campaign. We’d love you to connect with us via social media.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/StudentsNeedSchoolLibraries

Twitter: twitter.com/NeedSchoolLibs

Instagram: www.instagram.com/studentsneedschoollibraries

Read more about the campaign, find research that supports what we say and do, and follow the campaign’s media presence on our website - studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au

You can also sign up to our quarterly newsletter - studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/subscribe

If you have a particular question, you can contact us via our website - studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/contact-us

There are many ways you can get involved with the campaign. This quick start guide can get you started or check out the action guidelines for more ideas - studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/what-can-i-do

Tell us a little about the Students Need School Libraries team.

The leadership team includes Holly Godfree (Campaign Coordinator, a teacher librarian in the Australian Capital Territory), Madison Dearnaley (Website Coordinator, a library assistant in Queensland), Carol Grantham (a teacher librarian in South Australia), Sue Johnston (a teacher librarian in South Australia), and Hajnalka Molloy (a teacher librarian in South Australia). Each member of the leadership team works in school libraries. They have first-hand knowledge of the powerful impact a great school library and school library team can have for students. But they are also parents, grandparents, friends and community members who care about children and their learning. The 150 plus strong working team includes school library staff, authors, illustrators, parents, book professionals, teachers and concerned community members. Without this team, it wouldn’t be possible to create the resources, newsletter articles, blog posts, social media posts, research curation and more that the campaign provides.

What’s next from Students Need School Libraries?

Our immediate focus is the National School Library Day, which we are celebrating on the 20th of October. You can find out more here studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/isld2020.

We were proud to be part of the launch of the SLASA ACER report: School Libraries in South Australia 2019 Census, which contains data on all school libraries in South Australia and their staffing.

We are also currently working on state and territory petitions, see this page for more details - studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/petitions.

We hope to continue spreading the word about the importance of school libraries. We ask you to join us in any way that you can. Chat to your friends and families about school libraries. Check in with your child/grandchild/niece/nephew/friend’s child’s school about what’s happening in their school library. Join us on social media. Print out a flyer or brochure and share it at your local gym. We are hoping to grow our support community, including organisations, ambassadors, followers, so please join us.

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    Wendy Blaxland
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