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School libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools

CHAIR —I now welcome to today’s hearing representatives from the Queensland University of Technology and Softlink International. The committee does not require you to give evidence under oath. However, the hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and therefore has the same standing as proceedings before both houses.

We have your written submissions to the inquiry. We are very eager to ask questions, so I invite you to make a short statement, and then we will go to a question and answer session. Hilary, are you going to make any opening comments?

Dr Hughes —Thank you. I would like to acknowledge Raylee Elliott Burns, who contributed strongly to the submission and was the previous course coordinator. She is with us here today.

We are very pleased to present our submission on behalf of the QUT education faculty, our students, our graduates and the teaching team of the Master of Education (Teacher- Librarianship). We recognise the importance of this inquiry. We see that school libraries and TLs play a vital role in the context of the education revolution, with ACARA, the BER, the digital revolution and so many things happening. For reasons of social and educational equity and economic sustainability, we see that TLs are needed to prepare school students for rapidly changing information and learning environments. However, as many of the submissions to this inquiry indicate, the majority of schools in Australia are under-resourced or completely unresourced in library provision and professional TL staffing. Therefore, we see an urgent need to recognise the professional role of teacher librarians in schools through salary incentives and career paths and also, very importantly from our point of view, specialist TL education. So we strongly endorse the submissions made by many of our TL practitioner colleagues and professional associations, particularly the submissions of ASLA, SLAC, ALIA and the CBCA.

Our submission focuses on educational imperatives for professional TLs. I have a handout and a copy of a report to table. The handout will provide a summary of the needs and recommendations in our submission, which is slightly updated from what we gave you before.

CHAIR —Is it the wish of the committee that the document entitled Performing hybridity: impact of new technologies on the role of teacher librarians be taken as evidence and included in the committee’s report? There being no objection, it is so ordered.

Dr Hughes —Today we would like to briefly highlights four key points: why professional TL education is essential, recommended content for professional TL courses, the benefits for TLs of professional education, and recommendations that we see will support professional TL education in the future.

Firstly, why is professional teacher librarianship education essential? Leading professions recognise the need for specialist professional education and postgraduate qualifications. Postgrad education addresses the nexus of theory and practice. It develops practitioners with current knowledge of their specialist field, people who are able to manage and lead and to engage in critical thinking, creative problem-solving and evidence based decision-making. We would really like to see TLs standing in this kind of capacity. TLs have multiple responsibilities and professional learning needs, and a lot of their learning needs are not addressed through mainstream teacher education. You would not expect that, because this is a specialist profession. Some of the things that TLs are particularly concerned with are information management, creation and evaluation of learning resources, promotion of reading, and information literacy. In addition, they may need to provide professional development for teaching colleagues, and supervision and training for library aides and parent volunteers. These are all very specialist things.

However—and I think this is coming through strongly through many of the submissions—many schools lack a specialist TL. School libraries are often run by a teacher who maybe has no library qualification or by a library technician with perhaps limited teaching experience, and in many cases we are aware of school libraries being run by aides who really have no qualifications at all—or not in a teaching or library capacity.

We would like to offer QUT’s Master of Education (Teacher- Librarianship) as a model for professional education. Of course, we recognise that there are other universities also offering extremely valuable and high-quality programs; ours is one model that we would like to offer. The course structure has gradually evolved over many years. It has been informed by research, and that is why we wanted to present you with a copy of the Performing hybridity report. The course is also developed according to student feedback, education faculty review and of course the accreditation process of ALIA, the Australian Library and Information Association. I think those things demonstrate the research base and the theoretical basis of our course. The course balances the varied educational needs of professional TLs in the contemporary context. We see all of these things as part of the wide spectrum of specialist knowledge and expertise that we expect of teacher librarians.

Our course, which is a study area within the Master of Education, is grounded in contemporary educational policy, curriculum development and pedagogy, which we see as very important in the teaching capacity of teacher librarians. The units within the course cover multiple areas of professional concern for TLs, and these include the role of school libraries and teacher librarians, policy development and so on; the opportunities and challenges of online learning; and inquiry learning as a pedagogy to support curriculum use and learning. That moves us along from information literacy to the whole level of critical engagement with literature, with ideas, with research based learning.

The course is responsive to current and emerging issues. For example, the unit ‘Designing spaces for learning’ supports learner centred implementation, and of course this is very important in the context of BER. Importantly also, the course covers information organisation—things like cataloguing and database management, which are the nuts and bolts of librarianship. It also emphasises the promotion of reading and literacy, and critical engagement with literature and social media—the whole Web 2.0 area that we are looking at. It enables students to develop an understanding of research methodology and findings, and this will support teachers and teacher librarians in their own evidence based practices in their schools. The course also includes situated professional practice and an associated portfolio, which fosters the professional engagement and currency of our students and enables them to then engage with the profession in which they are going to be working.

The teaching team includes active researchers and TL practitioners—so we bring that balance between research and the real world view into our course—and the course is enriched by a cross-faculty relationship with QUT’s Master of Information Technology (Library and Information Science), here at the Gardens Point campus, with whom we have a shared core unit. We see that relationship as very strong as well.

What are the benefits of postgraduate education for TLs? Our TL graduates gain professional qualification which represents specialist TL expertise and knowledge. But in addition to this they are also able to expand their career opportunities in other directions. Gaining a master of education means that they can open up to leadership positions within the school or within education departments. We have evidence of colleagues who have achieved this. Since the course is accredited by ALIA, Australian Library and Information Association, graduates are qualified to apply for positions in other library and information services, such as public libraries and university libraries.

Also, a master of education offers a pathway to higher degree research, a possible academic career and of course it supports scholarly publications. Again, if we are talking about promoting the role of teacher librarians, scholarly publications are probably very important in speaking to people in positions of authority. We believe that our students gain intellectual stimulation and professional and personal development as a result of conducting a master of education course at postgraduate level.

Finally, I would just like to leave with you some recommendations to support professional TL education. We do see fluctuations in enrolments and of course these affect course planning, developments and indeed the viability of the course. These fluctuations are positive and negative. It is one of those things: there are peaks and troughs. Certainly, recent cohorts of scholarship holders from Brisbane Catholic Education have led to increased enrolments and learning diversity in the course. This has been a very positive thing for us. Therefore, as TL course providers we need continuing and consistent support from governments, education departments, employing authorities and schools, guaranteed funding for student places and recognition of the qualification that we offer.

We have four recommendations for education departments and employing authorities around Australia. First, that they formally recognise and require postgraduate TL qualifications for teacher librarians. Second, that they provide funding on a continuing basis to support professional TL education through scholarships and/or study leave for practising teachers. Third, that they implement programs, to recruit and support the education of specialist TL student cohorts to address the current shortfall of specialist TLs. We need to considerably raise the bar and we need some special programs to do that.

The final recommendation is to ensure the provision of Commonwealth supported places on a continuing basis to all domestic students who enrol in postgraduate teacher librarianship courses at Australian universities. Thank you.

CHAIR —Nathan, do you wish to make some opening comments with regard to your submission?

Mr Godfrey —Softlink welcomes the opportunity to appear at this public hearing. Softlink is an Australian company and has been supplying library management software systems to Australian schools for over 25 years. Our software systems are present in about 40 per cent of Australian schools and a large percentage of schools in the United Kingdom. We are probably the single biggest supplier of library management systems to schools in those two geographical areas.

When we considered this inquiry and its terms of reference we looked at what value we could add to the process and determined that a survey of our schools and contacts across Australia would produce unique and useful insights. Softlink’s submission is the result of our experience in Australian schools and is a collation of the information from the survey. From reading Hansard it is apparent that this inquiry has received many submissions and statements from witnesses on the value of school libraries and teacher librarians. Also, many submissions have detailed the current circumstances within schools across Australia. Given the strong response on these topics I would like to focus my opening remarks on the final term of reference of this inquiry:

  • the impact and potential of digital technologies to enhance and support the roles of school libraries and librarians.

We have made reference to this in the final section of Softlink’s submission.

It is Softlink’s position that digital technologies not only have the potential to support the roles of school libraries and librarians but will in fact greatly enhance the role of the library and the teacher librarian. To that end there are four key directions for technology that I would like to briefly touch on.

The first is web accessibility. As with most software applications, we have seen the progression of school library management systems towards web based systems. Unfortunately, the majority of schools do not yet have web based systems. Web based systems allow students, parents and teachers greater accessibility to the library. That means mobile applications and devices such as the iPad or the iPhone can access the library anywhere at any time. As more library resources have become digitised, the accessibility of the school library has increased in importance, as has the role the library plays in the school community.

The second important technological direction is that of the web 2.0 applications—generally the social networking aspects of the internet. In the context of the school library, using web 2.0 technologies will, among other things, allows students to write book reviews, to participate in forums, to recommend books and to be recommended resources. It is all about engaging students to participate in the library and with the teacher librarian. The library has the potential to further connect with students and to become more central in school.

The explosion of virtual learning environments or online learning portals within schools provides the third opportunity. These virtual learning environments are like a student’s online backpack. They provide students, teachers and parents with their own portal or electronic view of the school. By using integration technology, a student, parent or teacher can see real-time library information—news or recommendations—on their personal dashboard. Again, the integration technology is about the library and the teacher librarian further engaging with the school community and adding value in that way.

The fourth and final technical advancement I would like to touch on is the potential use of tools based on library data. The improvement of connectivity has allowed the collation, analysis and comparison off library data like never before. For example, Softlink has an application which we call Literary GPS, which has been designed as a tool for teacher librarians, teachers and parents. By accessing the vast amount of data held within school library systems and then analysing it, we can start to answer questions such as whether a particular student or group of students is borrowing more resources and reading more from the library than other groups. We can answer such questions along the lines of the level at which a particular student or groups of students are reading. We can understand more about the time based differences: how does this compare to last term, how does this compare across the last year?

The value of this information is particularly significant when we consider the way in which it can be analysed, based on the student information or the school information kept within the library system. We can consider demographic or regional impacts on each of those pieces of information coming through. Literacy GPS is designed to be a tool to be used in real time to provide guidance for teachers and parents. It is a tool for the teacher librarian. The tool works on the data already available in the library. It makes the role of the school library and of the teacher librarian as a curriculum leader even more valuable.

I believe this inquiry is very timely. The role of the school library and the teacher librarian is undoubtedly changing. This is not a threat; it is a real opportunity. Through greater accessibility, through web 2.0 applications and through integration technologies and tools such as Literacy GPS, technology will greatly enhance the role of the school library and the teacher librarian. It has protect potential to bring them to the forefront of each school community. The challenge is how these technologies will be adopted and resourced to achieve this potential.

CHAIR —My question to QUT is this: we have had quite a bit of evidence about the undergraduate teaching courses where people come out of them never having heard of a teacher librarian, which is a bit sad. But we have also had evidence that the opportunity to take undergraduate subjects that could in fact introduce students to the teacher librarian career path may be a missed opportunity, and this is why I want you to comment on it. It was not today, but we had previous evidence that in fact for many young beginning teachers or career changing teachers training, the opportunity to do some of the sorts of things that Nathan has described would be enormously attractive in their own classroom, let alone then looking at a career path along that direction. So I am interested in knowing what your view is on what might already be done structurally with the undergraduate connections, and also what your view is of the effectiveness of collaborative teaching and making beginning teachers aware of the role of teacher librarians?

Dr Hughes —Absolutely. When we were listening to the previous submission, we were making notes about this. This is something that we definitely need to attend to. Over the past few years we have been involved in the Stepping Out conference. I think you addressed it last, Chair; Mandy and I have both been to it as well. It is for fourth-year students, it is about six months before they graduate, it is a whole week of preparing them for their future careers as teachers. Certainly we have been at that point and spoken to them strongly and said: ‘These are the opportunities to work with teacher librarians. This is what a teacher librarian can do for you, but also this is a way you can work with a teacher librarian.’ So we have been sowing the seed, but certainly we take the point that we need to do an awful lot more in this area, and I think it is a really worthwhile way. It is a way of raising awareness of the role of teacher librarians amongst teachers generally, and also it is a way of easing young teachers into their first teaching positions. If they know that they have this person that they can work collaboratively with and that the school library is somewhere that they can comfortably be, it is another place away from the classroom where they have contacts perhaps with a professional mentor who is not necessarily a classroom teacher but has a broad view of what goes on in the school. So, yes, I can see lots of advantages.

Dr Lupton —No, that is a take-home message for us to go back to our colleagues who design the pre-service teaching courses.

CHAIR —I noticed something in the Queensland department’s submission, which we will question them on later. One of the things they said to us about the demographic of the teacher librarian cohort being overwhelmingly female and significantly over 45, one of their explanations is that that is the structure, that often teachers go out and teach for a certain amount of time and then decide to take on the librarian qualifications, which is a perfectly legitimate pathway. I have two sons aged 26 and 21, and one is training to be a science teacher, and I can see that for young people this is and it should be an exciting field of opportunity in schools. Part of our problem is that old stereotype that is a bit of a barrier. But more than that, to be fair, I suspect there are still a lot of people doing a job who, as we heard earlier, really have not engaged with it and taken it on. I am keen to know what the demographic of your groups are. You have the new scholarships coming through Catholic education, you are seeing some changes there—just a picture of what is happening.

Dr Hughes —Obviously it is a post graduate qualification, so immediately the students are going to be at least in their mid- to late 20s and beyond that. As you point out, many students are mature aged students, perhaps people coming to us in their mid-30s and mid-40s, who are coming into it for a number of different reasons. Very often they are seeing it as attractive alternative way of expanding—

CHAIR —To managerial.

Dr Hughes —Yes, still wishing to be teachers, but expanding into a different environment. We certainly see that. I think we are increasingly gaining male students; the past couple of years we have been delighted to find that the gender balance is rectifying itself to a degree.

CHAIR —Mandy doesn’t look convinced!

Dr Lupton —In the last cohort of 50 we had three males. In other cohorts we had zero. So it is increasing!

Dr Hughes —It is a small group, but all I am saying is that I can see signs. I hate to see that kind of stereotyping happening. I think the majority of students are looking to broaden their intellectual horizons as well. They have probably achieved a great deal in their teaching, but they want to engage with new ideas and new ways of doing things. Quite a number are actually recognising that their students are more savvy with the technology than they are and quite a number of our students come in looking to develop their knowledge and expertise using ICTs as well.

CHAIR —Do you have people doing the masters intending to stay in their classroom and not go into teacher librarianship? Are there people who are just doing it to add to their own professional development or would most of them be looking for employment in teacher librarianship?

Dr Lupton —Most would be looking for a teacher librarian position, but I get the odd one who is doing it for fun or just as a professional challenge. They do not necessarily see that they are going to move into that dedicated position, but they look at our course and—

CHAIR —It is a quite exciting looking course.

Dr Lupton —It is an exciting course for any teacher who wants a new challenge, not necessarily ones that are looking for a teacher librarianship position per se. If I could just return to your previous question about the demographics, the whole of the librarianship profession, not just teacher librarianship, suffers from that non-sexy image. In fact, you cannot do a straight librarianship qualification as an undergrad anymore. They have all disappeared because of the lack of numbers.

CHAIR —I sit on another committee that did the pay equity inquiry and you will be interested to know that we heard evidence from local government that the directors of corporate services and engineering all got a car but the directors of the libraries did not. There is a whole lot of other things happening around the gender balance in the broader library community. You are quite right.

Dr Lupton —The demographic that we see is very similar to my experience. I had been a classroom teacher for 14 years and decided I needed a new challenge but wanted to stay in education. So I retrained as a teacher librarian in my mid to late 30s. In terms of our demographic, we have a lot of women with young families who are juggling study and work. So it is quite a fragile group because they are juggling so many responsibilities.

CHAIR —Nathan and Kim, I will give you the opportunity to make a comment on that first range of questions about attracting young people into this area and why, with all its excitement and cutting edge potential, it is perhaps not seen that way. Do you want to make a comment on that?

Mr Godfrey —I would probably say that the potential for the technology is still potential. There has not been the shift towards some of what is available that there could have been, which will impact those who are interested in taking up teacher librarianship as a career. I do not see any reason why that should persist at all.

CHAIR —Going directly to your submission, can I just say up front: thank you so much for the innovative way of carrying out the survey. As you have clearly looked at a lot of the evidence, you would appreciate that one of the issues is the availability of data, so the survey that you have completed and provided to us is very useful. You talked about the literacy GPS. Can you describe to us your normal experience of communication with a school? At what point do schools contact you looking for stuff? Do you deal with sectors or regions? What is your direct experience of what drives schools to take an interest in something innovative like your literacy GPS program?

Mr Godfrey —Softlink deals with schools throughout Australia—all states and all education providers. We support and maintain our customers and provide help desk services for the software which they are using. Through the maintenance contracts we give software updates and assist them into newer technologies.

CHAIR —I want to take you back a step before that. What I am trying to understand is: funding is an issue. Do schools individually come to you? What are you signing up? Are you signing up individual schools? Does a regional directorate come and look at the program? This is what I am trying to get my head around.

Mr Duffy —We get all groups. We get individual schools, we get groupings on a religious basis—Catholic education, for instance, tends to deal as a diocese for schooling and then of course New South Wales would use all of our systems in their schools. So we deal at all levels.

CHAIR —In New South Wales you have got the state public education authority—the department have a contract with you. Would their individual schools then come for your add-on type stuff? Are they provided a base service and then they might look at something additional, like the literacy GPS? Or is it entirely a built-in structure.

Mr Duffy —No, it is not built in, but where it is a state level negotiation they tend to be constrained by whatever the department determines is the right thing. Occasionally we have other schools who want to try something different, and we have some 20 schools in New South Wales who are on a different version, if you like, of the system. The literacy GPS is specific to one version. It is a fairly recent thing that we have done. It purely models and provides a metric for a teacher librarian to look at what the patterns are within that school. Then by amalgamating you can look at a district and then analyse it by gender, by socioeconomic group or whichever.

CHAIR —It is interesting, because we had a librarian yesterday who was saying that in a school of 1,200, 750 on average will come through per day. I asked her how she did it, and she said, ‘I physically stood there one day and went through the records and counted.’ You are talking about stuff that would give you that sort of information at your fingertips and break it down even more. Is that right? Is it what has been borrowed on that day and all that sort of thing?

Mr Duffy —No, it is much more than that. It does that, but that is really at the superficial level. This actually analyses the reading patterns of a group of children. It is quite deterministic in saying: this book has been borrowed by 500 children in the school. Of that 500, 300 are aged 12—because the library system knows all this—therefore it is reasonable to conclude that this book is suitable for a child aged 12. If a child aged 10 is reading the book, it is reasonable to conclude that they are reading ahead of their peer group or, in fact, they are behind. We validated this against the NAPLAN results, so we can determine if a child of this age is reading this level of book, they will score more highly. We only did that to validate. The point is that a teacher librarian can then provide assistance to other teachers—and this goes back to Dr Jensen’s question—about a child’s pattern or the direction they are taking. Nathan referred to it as bringing the library back into the centre of education, which is probably where it ought to be.

Dr JENSEN —I would like to expand on a point that Sharon brought up. That is the issue with Queensland University; you know, they say, ‘build it and they will come’. The problem is that if no-one knows it is being built, no-one will come. I am interested to know: how many students do you have now doing the teacher librarianship course? Is that an increasing or decreasing demographic?

Dr JENSEN —I would like to expand a point that Sharon brought up—that is, the issue with Queensland University and the notion of ‘build it and they will come’. The problem is that, if no-one knows it is being built, no-one will come. I am interested to know how many students you have now doing the teacher librarianship course and whether that is an increasing or decreasing demographic?

Dr Hughes —We have noticed a pleasing increase over the last two or three years. Currently this year we have 110 students at various stages of the course. It is a two-year part-time course—in fact, it can spread to four years. So we have people spread right across the course. I have some statistics here. This time last year we had 93 students and this year we have 110. In 2007 and 2008 we had about 65 students in both years. In other words, since 2007, we have seen an almost doubling of numbers. There are two things that have influenced that increase. The fact that Brisbane Catholic Education have made commitments—and we have had two cohorts join us—has been a very strong reason.

Dr JENSEN —So there is a pool factor, in other words?

Dr Hughes —Absolutely, yes. In semester two in 2009 they started with about 18 students and we now have about 14 students in that group. This year we have 15—another cohort of students have started. That has certainly been a very significant thing not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of the diversity that that is bringing into the course. Also, last year and this year—but particularly last year—we have noticed that there was an increase generally in people showing an interest in becoming teacher librarians. Things like the digital revolution, BER and the inquiry are the kinds of things that are raising people’s awareness of teacher librarianship. So I think this is happening for a number of reasons.

A very significant thing for us, though, is to be able to ensure that we have places offered at a reasonable cost for students to be able to take—bearing in mind, as we said before, most of our students are post graduates and have a lot of other commitments in their lives as well. They have families, parents that they are caring for and many other things that they are doing in their lives, and we have to keep the education affordable. I think the way we have to do that is through something like the Commonwealth Supported Places Scheme. We have noticed a drop-off at the moment because there has been some question about the CSPS. In fact, it has been reinstated but we noticed that there was a drop-off in applications, which I think would be attributable to limited funding.

Dr JENSEN —What is your view on the department’s commitment to teacher librarianship as a profession?

Dr Hughes —Very limited. We would strongly suggest that the model that Brisbane Catholic Education have set up would be a great way for Education Queensland to proceed as well. I believe back in the 1980s there was a program provided by Education Queensland where they were actually sponsoring teachers for half of the course. Of course in those days there was an increase again of qualified teacher librarians going into schools. Once that program was discontinued by Education Queensland the numbers diminished in terms of not only the graduates but also the opportunities that were there for teacher librarians in state schools.

Dr JENSEN —Kim and Nathan, the statement was made that with the majority of schools there are no web based systems. It staggers me that 15 years after the worldwide web really went mainstream that that is the case. What is the current system?

Mr Godfrey —Windows.

Mr Duffy —I think there was a bit of a word slip there. Most have computerised library management systems but few of those are of web 2.0, which means that they cannot take advantage of a lot of the other facilities.

Mr Godfrey —The factors that are impacted include, obviously, connectivity. For a number of schools that remains an issue, particularly quite a number of regional schools. There are issues of security policy as well, which hampers the benefit that can be gained from—

CHAIR —We deal with that with our technology all the time. We cannot have bluetooth on our phones due to security issues. So I appreciate what you are saying.

Mr Godfrey —Various security policies, which are not consistent across Australia, impact on the benefit that can be gained from the additional accessibility. One of the other constraints is probably funding. There needs to be a capital commitment in order to change a system. I think those three factors are quite significant in holding back the progression of schools to the latest technology.

Mr SYMON —I have a couple of very short questions. The first one is to Nathan and Kim. You recommended in your submission ongoing annual budgets for BER funded libraries which I think is actually very good but it does to me beg the question: what about those schools that did not get a library? I would suggest they have probably the same sort of need. I think you are doing it from the right perspective, but it does draw to my attention—I know we have seen it come up before the committee at other hearings—that although there is money going into large-scale capital works there is not necessarily money available to keep those capital works running. Could you comment on that for us please?

Mr Godfrey —The ongoing funding for school libraries—and I think this is brought out in a number of tables in the appendix—is often very low. The capital works and a number of purchases that are made are often continued on for library systems, there are support and maintenance contracts and they form a part of the annual budget for school libraries. We also made reference in the submission to quite a number of schools that have received additional funding for building purposes and yet their school library budgets are still what we would consider very low and they are at risk. That is consistent with what we are seeing with our customers.

Mr SYMON —It would seem to me that priorities from state and federal governments are not following the same path. It obviously needs to be addressed. There is no point in having a new building with great facilities if there is no-one to guide students as to how to use it.

Mr Godfrey —That is certainly a risk.

Mr SYMON —Secondly, from your survey—and I congratulate you on doing a survey, it is really good to get this sort of information—you note that government primary schools receive an average of 84 per cent of funding of all other types of schools. I suspect that is somewhat skewed because of the schools that may have responded to your survey. We have certainly heard previous evidence that it has not been that high. Would it be a possibility with your survey that the 500-odd schools that responded were more than likely schools that had a teacher librarian rather than those that did not.

Mr Godfrey —That is right and which valued the role of the teacher librarian and the role of the school library. That is quite possible. There are inherently probably a number of limitations within the statistical sampling and that may be the case. I am afraid I cannot provide much more of an opinion on that.

Mr SYMON —No, that is fine. Thank you.

Mrs D’ATH —You said that 40 per cent of Australian schools have your systems in place. Can you give us a break down as to public-private, primary-secondary.

Mr Duffy —Most of New South Wales state schools have our systems in place. We have about three generations, we go back 25 years, so some of them are quite long in the tooth and they are running on very old technology. These are school libraries out the back of Bourke that would be running not quite on floppy disk drive computers for those of you who know what they are. Those systems have also been significantly modified over time.

But that was all New South Wales state schools. That and Queensland state schools would probably make up around 50 per cent of our schools. The other 50 per cent would be private schools. Most of the Catholic education dioceses use our software. They group themselves. They have really taken a big jump in the way they operate. It is really showing through in all kinds of aspects. Someone else should comment on the literacy levels, but I would not be surprised to see much, much higher performance there because of the teacher librarians and the way they operate—the levels of professionalism we see in those groups. But they are supported. I think that has been borne out by other evidence here. But that would be about the percentages.

Mrs D’ATH —To stick to the statistics, what would be the proportion of Queensland state schools that would have your systems in place? Would it be the majority of them? Do you go individually? I know the chair asked you that before.

Mr Duffy —In Queensland we do.

Mr Godfrey —It is roughly 40 to 50 per cent.

Mrs D’ATH —If you do not mind me asking, what would be the average cost to a school for a library management system.

Mr Godfrey —Very cheap—extraordinarily cheap!

Mrs D’ATH —You mentioned in your submission that you believe there has been a decrease in the availability of teacher librarian training programs around the country. I am interested in hearing your views on that. What do you believe has decreased as far as available training programs are concerned?

Mr Godfrey —We probably hear more of this anecdotally. I estimated that our organisation is in contact with 40 Australian teacher librarians every day. The feedback has been that it is harder to do that training and there are fewer people doing it. It mirrors the concerns that we have already heard in a number of the submissions today.

Mrs D’ATH —Are you talking about the initial training such as the master’s—that, of course, is available through QUT—or are you talking more about professional development for teacher librarians?

Mr Godfrey —That comment was directed at the initial training.

Mrs D’ATH —All right. We have heard your figures as far as an increase, which was really pleasing to see. I am really interested in what you have tendered to us in the report from 2002. I appreciate it was primarily focused on the changing role of teacher librarians with regard to technology, but was there any insight back in 2002 that we needed to lift the recognition of teacher librarians in our undergraduate degrees then?

Dr Hughes —I think it is a continuing pattern, certainly. The important thing about that document—it certainly talks about the importance of technology—is that it really hits home the idea that teacher librarian is a very multifaceted role. That is the whole idea of performing hybridity: we do so many different things. There is the need for courses to be able to recognise that and watch for the emerging trends—the new things that are coming out all the time—to incorporate those into our courses as well.

Mrs D’ATH —I have two questions coming out of that. We will have the department before us later today, so I will also be asking them these questions. What, if any, of these recommendations have been picked up at a state level in the education sector? What has QUT done in changing the way it delivers courses as a consequence of its own report?

Dr Hughes —I think that report gave birth to the Master of Learning Innovation (Teacher- Librarianship), as it was then known, which was introduced in 2005. 2004 was a kind of transition period. The recommendations from that report gave the course its shape. Since that time we have evolved from the Master of Learning Innovation to the Master of Education (Teacher- Librarianship). Over that period of time we have tailored and customised the course more. We have introduced a unit called Information-Learning Nexus which looks at pedagogy, inquiry learning and information literacy. That was an additional unit that we saw was necessary. It was seen to be important at the time of that report, but it took a period of time to be able to introduce that. This year we have introduced a new children’s literature unit. Again, it was seen as being significant back then, but with the nature of education it has gradually evolved to the point at which we feel that probably we have achieved the recommendations in that report at this particular time. But, as I said in my submission as well, we are always looking at faculty reviews, student feedback and responding to the evolving world of information and learning. It will always be a work in progress.

CHAIR —I want to come back, very quickly, to Softlink. On page 18 of your submission you have calculated correlations between the information you gathered on the resourcing of libraries and the NAPLAN results. That is the first place we have ever seen anything like that collected, clearly because you held through your survey a particular base of information on the staffing and resourcing of a range of libraries. I do not understand the tables. I do not know what a calculated correlation is. Pardon my ignorance! I do not want you to name schools and say, ‘This one had that,’ or whatever, but are you able to provide us with a bit of a breakdown of what that actually was? Can you talk about a typical school with a full library, a teacher librarian—at least one per however many students—that had this level of result? I do not want to give you too much work because you have done so much for us already, but could you give us something? I will go and find out what a calculated correlation is.

Mr Duffy —We tied that to the funding as well. We were trying to get a straight line between schools that were well funded and had a teacher librarian and their NAPLAN results. I know it is not the intent of NAPLAN. To some people, the moment you mention it it is anathema in some quarters.

CHAIR —We are interested, Kim.

Mr Duffy —For teacher librarians in particular it validates their position and it improves their ability to contribute to the overall education.

CHAIR —What you briefly touched on there is one of the major things we keep hearing about what is needed in national research, which is direct links between qualified teacher librarians and literacy and numeracy outcomes. As I said earlier, the federal department have said to us on the literacy and numeracy national programs that none of them are being run through libraries or by teacher librarians, only because I think nobody is recording that. This is just for our information. I do not want you to do extensive work. If it is not possible, just ring the secretariat and say, ‘We couldn’t pull it out. Sorry.’ But if you have got something, that would be good.

Mr Godfrey —We can certainly provide some further information on that.

CHAIR —And I will learn what a calculated correlation is.

Mr Godfrey —As an indicator, one is a perfect correlation—that is, one to one. Some of these correlations are as high as any of the research that I have seen as far as correlating factors to literacy go, including socioeconomic indicators, more than gender and more than the amount of homework. Those are the types of things that have been researched and that I have seen previously. These numbers are the highest of those.

Dr JENSEN —Is the correlation R-squared?

Mr Godfrey —I would have to take that question on notice. We have a couple of statistical experts at Softlink who are able to run these numbers for us.

Dr JENSEN —Okay.

CHAIR —That would be of tremendous benefit to our committee’s inquiry. We will not take a simplistic view of it. We understand that with these things there are always multiple factors. But it would be, for the first time, an opportunity for us to see some current data on those links. If you could, that would be a tremendously useful thing and we would appreciate it. Thank you both for your attendance here today. If you have been asked to provide additional material, please forward it to the secretary in the same way you did your original submissions. You will be sent a copy of the transcript of your evidence, to which you can make corrections of grammar and fact. Once again, thank you for both your written submissions and your verbal presentations to us today. It has been most useful for us. Thank you very much.

Proceedings suspended from 1.09 pm to 1.36 pm