Sunday, September 11, 2011

School libraries the poor relation

Story by IMOGEN NEALE - The Dominion 11/09/2011

As pressure increases to lift Kiwi kids' literacy and numeracy, schools are struggling to keep their libraries well resourced, up-to-date and professionally staffed.
A growing demand for e-books that students can download on to a tablet device is also increasing budgetary pressure.
The issue has attracted the attention of the Post-Primary Teachers Association, which is calling on the government to restore funding for a qualified librarian and make school libraries mandatory.
The libraries are funded from a school's government grant. It's a school's prerogative how the grant is used. Ministry of Education spokesman Jeremy Wood said in 2009 schools spent around $5.5 million on library resources. That's an average of $2200 per school.
Library manager at Invercargill's James Hargest College, Senga White said "forcing" schools to fund their libraries from operational grants isn't working.
"There will be a number of schools in New Zealand, for a variety of reasons, that may not have libraries at the moment," White said.
The former president of the School Library Association (SLANZA) said adequately resourced libraries can make a "significant difference" to the achievement levels for all students.
"In the schools where they employ knowledgeable staff for their libraries, the curriculum underpins all planning."
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