Forging Future Libraries: Creative Collaborations for the Sustainability of School Libraries

School libraries are in crisis, we are experiencing threats to our funding, spaces and staffing. Coupled with the more recent rise in book challenges, many school library staff are feeling the future of school libraries is bleak. In this climate, four schools decided to unite and share our unique skills and resources to improve the school library experience for students across all our schools. This cooperative of three primary schools and one secondary school have determined we are better, together.

The ACER School Libraries in South Australia 2019 Census, reported that 23% of school libraries are managed by a qualified teacher librarian, 20% by a library-qualified SSO/ESO, 12% by a teacher and 36% by an unqualified SSO/ESO. Our staffing structures represent this breadth of qualifications, our four libraries are managed by a Teacher Librarian, Librarian, Library Technician, and a Teacher. Compared with many other school libraries we are fortunate, but we are also aware of the need to support each other to advocate for a sustainable model for our own and other school libraries.

Each of us comes from backgrounds beyond school libraries, something we consider our superpower. Our backgrounds in special and public libraries, and educational leadership have led to the capacity to unite and enact several key initiatives for our own libraries and those in our community:

  1. The establishment of cooperative purchasing of resources and databases, reducing the cost for all libraries and ensuring the smallest library has access to resources normally beyond their reach. This has led to vendors developing a bespoke model which can be rolled out to other connected schools.
  2. Development of a common Collection Development Policy across our four schools. The ability to prepare and react to book challenges effectively is beyond the capacity of many school libraries. This has now been used as a model for all Lutheran schools in South Australia.
  3. Shared resources for our middle year learners and staff, allowing for extension of primary years students and support for secondary students. Not only has this had budget benefits, it has enriched the collections available to staff and students.
  4. Support for transition of vulnerable students from primary to secondary school via the School Library. When a student is identified as graduating from one of the primary schools and moving to the secondary school, we offer a library transition to support their wellbeing.

Our model of cooperation has been acknowledged by not only our own school leadership, but also by Lutheran Education of South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory (LESNW). This has enabled an advocacy model which focussed on a positive model, rather than the deficit model which often dominates discussion. This panel will discuss the benefits of cooperation for school libraries, staff and our education communities.

Catherine Barnes

Teacher Librarian, Endeavour College

Author Bio

Catherine Barnes has a Bachelor of Arts in Information Studies, Masters in Information Technology and Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching. Starting her career in vocational and research libraries, she moved into school libraries and has developed and re-developed spaces and services in each of the libraries she has worked in. Currently she is the Teacher Librarian at Endeavour College, Mawson Lakes. Catherine also teaches in the Information Management Program at UniSA. Her content expertise is Library Management and Metadata, with a focus on Diversity in Collections and Description. Speaking experience has included presentations at the Australian School Library Association National Conference 2019, School Library Association of South Australia State Conference 2022, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative International Conference 2022, American Library Association Annual Conference 2023, National Education Summit 2023, Lutheran Schools Adelaide North Zone Conference 2023, as well as online and in-person training.

Ruth Carter

Library Manager, Golden Grove Lutheran Primary School

Author Bio

Ruth Carter has a Diploma of Teaching Primary and a Graduate Diploma of Theological Education. She has held various roles within primary schools ranging from classroom teacher (Foundation – Year 7), to PYP/Curriculum Coordinator and now as the Library Manager for Golden Grove Lutheran Primary. Speaking experience has largely been through her roles as teacher and leader. Her experience has included researching, initiating, and leading the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. This involved presenting to a variety of stakeholder groups, leading professional learning and guiding our community through the first years of implementation. Now as Library Manager she brings her curriculum knowledge and pedagogical understanding to support the teaching and learning program at Golden Grove Lutheran.

Wendy Janetzki

Library Technician, Good Shepherd Lutheran School

Author Bio

Wendy Janetzki has an Associate Diploma in Library Studies. She has worked as a Library Technician for over 20 years, in public libraries in the country and city. Her roles have included working as part of a team within a Corporation Library, managing the serials collection and Inter-library Loans. She has spent the last 12 years in a primary school library, becoming the Library Manager for Good Shepherd Lutheran School, Para Vista in the past 12 months. She is currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Information Management at UniSA. Her content expertise is in smaller libraries with a focus on children’s literature. Speaking experience has included presenting at a State Rotary Conference.

Wendy McLeod

Library Resource Manager, St Paul Lutheran School

Author Bio

Wendy McLeod has a Bachelor of Arts in Library and Information Management from UniSA. She worked for six years at the Disability Information and Resource Centre managing the serials collection and subscription abstract service. She has been employed in the Lutheran education sector since 2011; initially as classroom education support officer and from 2015 as the St Paul Lutheran School Library Resource Manager. Her content expertise is in the area of Special Libraries and Children’s Literature.