Archive for March, 2011

President’s Report 2011

President’s Report 2011

2010 was an extremely busy year for ISLA. The association celebrated its 35th Birthday and was involved in a number of lobbying, professional and social events. We continued our role in professional development with two conferences and two networking afternoons and contributed to some significant local, state and federal initiatives throughout the year. We also awarded life membership to two original ISLA members with outstanding records of commitment to the association and teacher librarianship in the Illawarra area.

A Federal Government Inquiry into School Libraries was established by the previous education minister, Julia Gillard and was chaired by local MP, Sharon Bird. A small committee of ISLA members met during the Term 1 school holidays to produce an outstanding submission before the deadline of the first week of Second Term. Di Ridley is to be commended for the job she did collating the submission through the use of Google Docs, a web-sharing site. As a result of the quality of our submission, Di and I were subpoenaed to appear before the Sydney hearing on the 28th April. (We even received local TV coverage due to Georgia Phillips issuing a media release.) Unfortunately, with an election called last August, all government inquiries were suspended and there has been no news of whether the Inquiry will be re-convened or not.

Another initiative which we undertook was to meet with the DET Regional Director, Maria Gray-Spence. Our objective was to ask if we would be able to attend meetings with the School Education Directors so that we could promote the role of teacher librarians in schools by speaking to School Principals. However, we have not heard anything further and would probably have to pursue this matter further if the incoming executive thinks it is worthwhile.

One lobbying attempt which was successful was the state-wide campaign to retain the jobs of staff at Library Services in North Ryde. Their roles were under threat with the restructure that took place in October last year. I sent an email on behalf of ISLA, as did many other local networks and individuals. The case was heavily promoted through the NSWTL listserv and The Hub. If not for our combined actions we would have lost many of the services which we take for granted.

We successfully attempted to extend our Professional Development opportunities in 2010 by holding two afternoon sharing sessions. The first, which was held on the 9th June at Woonona PS, provided a forum to share ways of utilising the interactive whiteboard in the Library in an Information Skills context. The second, which was held at Port Kembla PS on (a very wet) 28th July, focussed on ideas and activities for promoting the 2010 Book Week theme and Shortlisted books. Sessions such as these are tremendously important because they reflect the true purpose of networks where members share their ideas, successes and frustrations with each other. Our thanks go to Julie Lake and Cheryl Emin for hosting these afternoons.

Dapto High School was once again the venue for our first Professional Development Day, on the 5th May.

The day was launched somewhat controversially by Education Consultant, Mal Lee who had attracted my attention through an article published in SCIS Connections about the role of the library in 21st Century schools. He challenged us to think about the traditional role of libraries and how they did or did not fit into the current information context. This also attracted the attention of WIN news, which ran a story on the topic as a follow-up to our earlier story about the Federal Inquiry.

Paul MacDonald gave another outstanding presentation on the 2010 Shortlisted Books and Tohby Riddle gave us an amazing insight into the illustrations and design ideas in his books. These speakers proved, once again that the book is a long way from being dead! Once again we had a very successful partnership with the hospitality team at the school who provided us with an excellent catering service.

I managed to persuade our Conference Committee to venture away from the school setting for our second Professional Development Day which was held at the Nan Tien Temple on 28th October. The venue proved to be excellent for our needs. The seating, the availability of individual microphones for Q & A sessions, the tranquillity of the location and the in-house catering was a much appreciated experience for those who attended at such a busy time of year. The committee was quick to endorse it as a future venue for conferences to be held in Fourth Term.

The day was led by Lizzie Chase from Library services, who introduced us to several easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools which could be used by teacher librarians to enhance their teaching of technology.

Paul MacDonald has become a fixed item on our program due to his retail experience and his lecturing responsibilities, he is always aware of current issues and trends in the world of books. His presentation this time focussed on books to support topics related to the new Australian Curriculum, and “good reads” for students of all ages.

We were also given some very valuable advice on how to stay fit and healthy and ways to avoid repetitive strain injuries in the library context by local physiotherapist, Mark Burns.

The day concluded with an outstanding presentation by illustrator, Sarah Davis on Visual Literacy. Sarah has a teaching background, which was obvious by the quality of her presentation.

Thanks also go to the team of Judy Brooks and Kathy Hawkey who organised the Library Assistants part for both conferences.

We had three dinners for members last year. The first was very informal and was held on the 30th March at Samaris in Wollongong. Our second for the year was held on the 29th June at Relish in Shellharbour to farewell Jenny Kay who served as Secretary for several years. Jenny has moved to Queensland to pursue further career opportunities. Our last occasion for the year was more formal affair which was held at Centro on the 1st December to present Life Membership to Kerrie Bennett and Kath Kennedy for their contributions to ISLA and teacher librarianship for over three decades.

Late last year, ISLA members Sharon McGuinness and Jane Pretty were nominated for the John H. Lee Award for innovative activities in the field of Information and Communication Technology and Information Literacy. They have since been named as the winners will be presented with their award at the ASLA State Library Day on the 12th March this year.

My only regret, is that we still have not been able to reach consensus on a logo which recognises our role and purpose in our region. Hopefully this is something that will be amended in the near future.

Finally, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all members of the ISLA Executive and Organising Committees during my past six years as President. I am stepping down from this role which has been a privilege to hold. I must admit that when I originally agreed to accept the role of President, it was quite a daunting venture as I did not feel as though I was worthy of the task. However, in the last six years we have achieved a great deal. I wanted to expand and strengthen the association throughout the region to provide real support for teacher librarians in schools.

There are eleven formal teacher librarian networks throughout the state. We are one of only three teacher librarian networks that have their own website. We now have strong communication links in the government, catholic and independent sectors. We have achieved a balance between providing social and professional activities to cater for all our needs. In addition, 2010 was the year we adopted a set of criteria for nominations for the conferring of Life Membership on worthy recipients.

I would like to formally acknowledge the commitment of several ISLA members who have assisted me in my role as President during the last six years. Long term ISLA members Celia Owen and Jane Pretty, whom I have come to consider as friends, have been inspiring and hard-working committee members. Thank you for welcoming me as “the invader” from the Southern Illawarra group and trusting me to determine the direction that I believed the association needed to take. I have tried to lift the profile of the association, by modelling our structure on similar professional associations.

Newer members, Di Ridley, Sharon McGuinness and Nicole Jackson have brought new ideas and passions to our gatherings and are an integral part of all ISLA events. Di is to be particularly commended for the work she has done to organise regular meetings for high school teacher librarians.

It has, and is going to continue to be, a struggle for teacher librarians to be valued and recognised as the providers of an essential service in schools.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this job, but it is now time to pass the baton to people with new ideas. I hope that ISLA can continue to make a difference to teacher librarians throughout Wollongong, Shellharbour, Nowra and the Highlands. This has only been made possible through the dedication of the ISLA executive and committee members who have been able to make our association greater than the sum of its parts.

Margaret Cooper

President 2010

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March 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment


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