Illawarra librarians defend role in digital age

Teacher librarians across the Illawarra are in doubt over the future of their profession and gathered on Wednesday to discuss their ongoing relevance within the school system.

President of the Illawarra School Libraries Association Sharon McGuinness said that teacher librarians are vital to education.

"In both primary schools and high schools we play a crucial role in assisting students to become information literate," she said.

"That's the world they have inherited."

Ms McGuinness said the digital age has not made their role obsolete, rather created more need for the research and analytical skills in which teacher librarians specialise.

"We are the ones that can guide students to that knowledge of where to find information, and select, analyse and evaluate it. That's a big thing when you're looking at online information."

Dapto High teacher librarian Diane Ridley said their positions in public schools in NSW are not guaranteed under the government's Local Schools, Local Decisions policy.

"If the principals are squeezed for funds, specialist support staff will be the easiest to forgo," she said.

"We can be traded off for other staff, which is unacceptable."

Ms McGuinness said teacher librarians are at the forefront of the new NSW syllabus for English, history and science.

"There are key skills within the new curriculum that we specialise in," she said.

Ms Ridley said teacher librarians will need to work with teachers on the new syllabus.

"We are directly related to resourcing the new syllabus and providing professional development for it."

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