8 January 2008
The Hon. K. M. Rudd MP
The Hon. J. E. Gilliard MP
Canberra ACT 2600
Dear Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) congratulate you on the election of a Labor government. We are delighted to see your commitment to ensure digital schools to provide a 21st century education system. Funding national secondary school computers will significantly improve the education outcomes for Australian students.
We seek to raise two important issues with you that are essential to the successful implementation of a digital education program. The first is the need for access to quality electronic resources. You will be aware that information on the Internet is of variable quality and reliability. Australian libraries, including school libraries, have together selected quality electronic resources covering general reference (including encyclopaedia), Australian news & business information and health information through a national consortium (http://era.nla.gov.au/). These products have been selected through a tender process and represent sources which all schools should have access to. At present only a small number of schools can afford these resources and we recommend that your digital education program consider purchase of these resources to support a quality outcome for students and teachers.
Secondly, Australian students need support from qualified teacher librarians to enable them to gain on-line research skills to use the computers which will be available through secondary schools. At present it is not mandatory in schools to have qualified teacher librarians. It has been shown in the past through independent surveys that having the school library staffed by qualified teacher librarians has a positive impact on student learning. The role of the teacher librarian has changed significantly in recent times, particularly where information communication technologies are concerned. Teacher librarians contribute significantly to student technology and information literacies.
The Presidents and Executive Officers from ASLA and ALIA would like to meet with you to discuss both the potential for access to quality information resources and qualified teacher librarians to support the national secondary school computer fund program. We will be in touch with your office to seek an appointment.
We look forward to seeing you and discussing these issues.
Anette Ainsworth, ASLA President and Roxanne Missingham, ALIA President