“The best outcome for our children”: Public and school libraries forging collaborative relationships

There has been a long-standing link between the role of public and school libraries in the delivery of formal and informal education, recreational opportunities, and literacy promotion with a focus on “the best outcome for our children” as one of our survey respondents noted. Since the 1930s, major reports into library services for children in Australia including the Munn-Pitt Report (1935) and Sarah Fenwick’s School and children’s libraries in Australia: A report to the children’s libraries (1966) have advocated similar ideas. This role is a collaborative one involving both school and public libraries (Johnson, 2007, p. 8) and over time, a unique vision has developed for each in what services they deliver, expectations of the qualifications needed for those who deliver them, and their mission in providing children’s services.

In 2002, Alan Bundy conducted an extensive study of collaborative practices between Australian public and school libraries to develop an understanding of this relationship. The report provided insight into the level of interaction between public and school libraries, inhibitors and promotors of these interactions, understandings of the role of the school and public library in relation to children and youth and the level of understanding of the two sectors of each other and their roles at this time. He concluded that “school and public libraries in Australia in 2001 have a sense of that common endeavour, and that many are making an effort to extend their interaction to that end” (Bundy, 2002, p. 67).

In May and June 2023, the presenters replicated Bundy’s study to understand how these partnerships have continued to evolve (or not) by surveying staff working in public and school libraries. This presentation will share the major findings with delegates including the demographics of our participants and their communities and most interestingly, the responses to open-ended questions where they reflected on their own knowledge and use of public and school libraries, identified barriers and promoters of collaboration between these two types of libraries and described current and past interactions and partnerships in their libraries. Presenters will collaborate with delegates to translate these findings into practical outcomes for their libraries and communities, “the best outcomes for our children.” References Bundy, A. (2002).

Essential connections: school and public libraries for lifelong learning. The Australian Library Journal, 51(1), 47-70. Fenwick, S.I. & Library Association of Australia, Children’s Libraries Section. (1966). School and children’s libraries in Australia: A report to the Children’s Libraries Section of the Library Association of Australia. Cheshire for the Library Association of Australia. Johnson, V. (2007). Life after Fenwick: the rise, fall and future of library services for children in Australia: A critical review of Australian library services for children since the acceptance by the Library Association of Australia of the standards recommended in the Fenwick Report, with special reference to Victoria and Tasmania. Auslib Press. Munn, R., Pitt, E.R., Australian Council for Educational Research, & Carnegie Corporation of New York (1935). Australian libraries: A survey of conditions and suggestions for their improvement. Australian Council for Educational Research.

Kasey Garrison

Senior Lecturer, Charles Sturt University

Author Bio

Kasey Garrison is a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Librarianship and coordinator of the Children’s Librarianship Specialisation at Charles Sturt University. Before becoming an academic, she taught in early childhood and primary schools in the Spanish and special education classroom as well as the school library. Her research interests center around various topics in school libraries including information literacy, collaboration with public libraries, and social justice and diversity issues in youth literature.

Dr Kay Oddone

 Lecturer, Charles Sturt University

Author Bio

Dr Kay Oddone is a lecturer and the course director for the Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship). She has more than 25 years of experience as an educator, having taught at all levels, ranging from Prep to Post-Graduate with experience as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, teacher librarian and learning designer. Her research interests focus on information and digital literacies, cultivated through networked and connected learning, personal learning networks as well as school libraries and teacher librarianship.

Krystal Gagen-Spriggs

 Lecturer, Charles Sturt University

Author Bio

Krystal Gagen-Spriggs is a lecturer and PhD candidate with the School of Information and Communication Studies at Charles Sturt University. She is passionate about teacher librarianship and enjoys working with teacher librarians and researchers from all around the world. Krystal’s research is in reading motivation, reading identity, and reading cultures. She has presented on this topic at national and international conferences and is excited about sharing findings from her research in the future.

Mary Carroll

Associate Professor, Charles Sturt University

Author Bio

Mary Carroll is an Associate Professor in the School of Information and Communication Studies at Charles Sturt University and a member of the Library Research Group (LRG). Between 2013-2020 she was Course Director for a variety of courses delivered by the School of Information Studies at CSU and continues teaching in the School. Prior to employment at CSU she was an Early Career Development Fellow at RMIT University, Melbourne, worked for many years in LIS Vocational Education having started her career as a teacher-librarian in secondary schools in Victoria. She has published in the area of the history of librarianship, vocational education and library education and LIS pedagogy. Her PhD was both an historical and contemporary investigation into the role sectoral educational divisions have played in the construction of LIS professional identity in Australia. She is former vice-president of the Australian and New Zealand History of Education Society (ANZHES) and an Associate of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).