What Librarians Wish You Knew About Libraries


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Ten ways teacher librarians improve literacy in schools


Margaret Kristin Merga, Edith Cowan University

Australian schools constantly strive to improve the literacy outcomes of their students. Supporting literacy achievement for struggling readers is particularly important because these readers have their disadvantage compounded: capable students develop “richer” skills through continued exposure to reading, and the gap between them and struggling readers widens.

The number of Australian students deemed “low performers” in reading literacy proficiency has been rising over time. Our percentage of high performers is shrinking – nearly one in five adolescents are in the low performer category.




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With school about to start for the year, we should consider how we can optimise support for struggling readers. Young people’s literacy attainment significantly shapes their academic, vocational and social potential. More than seven million adult Australians have their opportunities limited by their literacy level.

Research suggests the presence of qualified library staff in school libraries is associated with better student performance in literacy. But until now, little was known about what specifically they do to achieve this. My new research gives us insight into these key practices.

What do they do?

In 2018, I visited 30 schools in urban and rural sites as part of the Teacher Librarians as Australian Literature Advocates in Schools project. I interviewed teacher librarians to explore a range of questions, including the role they play as literacy educators.

For some children, silent reading time is the only time they have to read.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

There are 40 recurring literacy support strategies used by teacher librarians. But my recent paper focuses on ten strategies that have a particularly strong link to supporting struggling readers:

1. Identification of struggling readers. Teacher librarians support the timely identification of struggling readers through the data they collect on student performance. The sooner struggling readers are identified, the sooner the school can help them.

2. Providing age and skill-appropriate materials for struggling readers. Teacher librarians match students with age-appropriate materials they can manage and topics and genres they prefer. The more a student enjoys and is interested in reading, the more likely they are to keep it up.

3. Teaching students how to choose books they like. Both children in primary and secondary schools have suggested they would read more if it were easier to choose books that appeal to them. Teacher librarians teach students how to do this.

4. Support for students with special needs and readers at risk. For example, Hannah, a teacher librarian, described working with “a young boy who is dyslexic, and I was reading to him and made a dyslexic error, and went back and explained what I’d done and he said, ‘Yeah, I do that, too.’” She then connected him with age and skill-appropriate materials, and he went on to read “an enormous amount”.

5. Matching struggling readers to appropriate books for their skill level. Research suggests when struggling readers have texts matched appropriately with their ability and personal interest, they are more persistent, invested, and use more cognitive skills. Teacher librarians show expertise in making good matches.

6. Promoting access to books. Access to books is positively related to reading motivation, reading skills, reading frequency and positive attitudes toward reading. Teacher librarians make their books accessible. Francesca described regular use of a pop-up library:

We take [it] out into the wilds. And you know, kids will come up and go, ‘oh, what have you got, what have you got.’”

7. Making books and reading socially acceptable. Where young people believe books are socially acceptable, they’re more likely to read and have a positive attitude toward reading. Reading frequency is associated with literacy benefits, so this is ideal. Teacher librarians use a variety of strategies to enhance how books are viewed socially in their schools, including facilitating peer recommendations.

8. Reading to students beyond the early years. Reading aloud offers a range of benefits in the early years and beyond, including an increased enjoyment of reading and increased motivation. Libba described reading aloud to the teenage boys in her classes as a wonderful experience that was very well received. One boy even stated: “that was beautiful”.




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9. Facilitating silent reading time. Though opportunities for silent reading at school may be limited, for some struggling readers, it’s the only book reading they do. Teacher librarians act as keen advocates for silent reading in their library and more broadly in the school. And something is better than nothing, especially for readers who struggle.

10. Preparing students for high stakes literacy testing. Achievement on high-stakes literacy tests is essential for graduation in Western Australia, a controversial move which has seen graduation rates slide. A similar initiative has been explored but rejected in NSW.

Teacher librarians supported struggling readers to achieve this essential academic goal through a range of initiatives. For example, teacher librarian Stephanie supported students to use practice online testing programs in her library, which gave students the practice they needed to sit both NAPLAN and online literacy and numeracy assessment (OLNA) tests.

Why does this matter?

Teacher librarians in Australian schools are a valuable resource often taken for granted. They have faced significant budgetary cuts in recent times, despite a 2011 government inquiry into school libraries. Teacher librarians noted they play an important educative role in our schools.




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Recent findings suggest teacher librarians’ morale and related sense of job security may be low. If schools and policy-makers wish to improve students’ literacy outcomes, they should invest in school libraries and our dual-qualified teacher librarians.The Conversation

Margaret Kristin Merga, Senior Lecturer in Education, Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A library without librarians is a just a shed full of books


Joanna Mendelssohn, UNSW Australia; Catherine De Lorenzo, UNSW Australia, and Catherine Speck, University of Adelaide

For some years we have been researching the how, why and wherefore of exhibitions of Australian art. We have tracked down retired curators and art museum directors, recording their memories before they fade.

We have crossed the country to see exhibitions. But most of the time we have been buried in archives and libraries. While large public libraries are excellent for general research, those small specialist libraries attached to state and national art museums are our essential tools of trade.

With the exception of the Edmund and Joanna Capon Research Library at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, these libraries are by appointment only. All the meticulously researched exhibitions of Australian and international art depend on their museum libraries – they track down works of art and tease out ideas from distant publications.

These libraries are our treasure trove. The Art Gallery of New South Wales press cuttings book goes back to the 1890s. There are international art journals dating from the 1890s, invitations to every imaginable exhibition, annual reports from the most unlikely places – as well as transcripts of scandalous court cases.

Most art museum libraries hold material associated with their own collections and exhibitions. Two institutions, however, have made their libraries international research hubs. At the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a succession of librarians have collected archives from Australian artists, curators and institutional records. The renamed National Art Archive is central to the proposed Sydney Modern Project.

For many years its secret weapon has been the head librarian, Steven Miller, the author of scholarly books and erudite blog posts while the visual resources librarian, Eric Riddler, has an uncanny ability to track down obscure archival photographs and identify the protagonists.

At the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, James Mollison, its first Director, knew that an outstanding research library was an essential tool in positioning the gallery as an international leader. He acted accordingly in funding the library. When he was a young education officer at the National Gallery of Victoria, he had access to the specialist records that have been expanded into the Shaw Research Library, presided over by the ever helpful Luke Doyle.

The National Gallery of Australia: its library is now open only four days a week.
Robert Montgomery/Flickr, CC BY

Thanks to Mollison’s foresight, for almost 40 years the catalogues, books and archives at the National Gallery of Australia have been the envy of those who don’t live in the city. The monetary value is A$37 million, but the worth is much more.

The Chief librarian, Joye Volker, and the senior librarian, Helen Hyland, are both well-known to interstate and international visitors who have have benefited from their detailed knowledge of the collections. Their assistance to researchers has extended to sending digital versions of archives meticulously recorded over many years.

The retired Betty Churcher wrote most of her book, Australian Notebooks (2014), in the library, while Sasha Grishin’s Australian Art: a History (2014) says of Joye Volker and her staff: “It would not have been possible to complete this book without their assistance.”

When the Federal Government announced in September it was eliminating 63 positions from national cultural organisations, both Volker and Hyland were “let go”. With the “natural attrition” from other staff, this means the National Gallery library is now only open four days a week. Tough times mean hard decisions.

But libraries without librarians are just storerooms. Specialist librarians can make apparently tangential leaps and suddenly produce a raft of documents that give answers to questions the researcher is yet to ask.

As well as hard copy resources, when we visited Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art Research Library Jacklyn Young and Cathy Pemble-Smith gave ready access to digital files and data bases. Specialist research librarians save months of time for hard pressed academic researchers and curators.

At the Art Gallery of South Australia Jin Whittington is surely one of the state’s living treasures with her specialist knowledge and generous spirit, answering constant queries on the finer details of the archive and library. Specialist librarians and archivists are crucial for primary research.

At the recent Art Association of Australia and New Zealand annual conference, the subterranean topic of conversation was the very future of the National Gallery’s library. Budget cuts may lead to its holdings being transferred to the equally under-resourced National Library.

Anthony White, president of the association, which represents art historians, curators and artists, said:

The art-specific knowledge that art librarians provide, as well as their unique expertise in advanced research skills, are indispensable for those historians, critics and curators who are opening new avenues in thinking about global visual cultures that speak to contemporary concerns.

This sorry tale is not unique to art, or even to Canberra. It is a part of the inevitable consequences of a succession of “efficiency dividends” by the Commonwealth Government which is placing public institutions on a diet akin to anorexia.

The Conversation

Joanna Mendelssohn, Associate Professor, Art & Design: UNSW Australia. Editor in Chief, Design and Art of Australia Online, UNSW Australia; Catherine De Lorenzo, Honorary associate professor, UNSW Australia, and Catherine Speck, Professor, Art History;, University of Adelaide

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Our Favorite Pop Culture Librarians


Flavorwire

The librarian is one of the most misunderstood figures in pop culture history. The patronizing character John Rothman played in Sophie’s Choice and the “old maid” Donna Reed portrayed in It’s a Wonderful Life are just a few of the negative, unflattering, and downright laughable images of librarians that our society has been inundated with. There are, however, several fine examples of realistic, intelligent, competent, and yes, even sexy librarians in cinema, television, and beyond. We’ve detailed 15 of our favorite fictional librarians, below.

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Article: Librarians – Lost in the Stacks


The link below reports on a group of librarians from Brooklyn who have formed a band called ‘Lost in the Stacks.’

For more visit:
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/shush-brooklyn-librarians-form-band-rock-article-1.1112283