Saskatchewan School Librarians Hold Annual Convention

FTLComm - Saskatoon - Sunday, May 5, 2002

The Saskatchewan School Librarian's convention took place this weekend in Saskatoon as librarians from around the province came together to share their ideas and concerns in the key to Saskatchewan's educational programme.

Almost two decades have passed since the province moved into the world of resourced based learning. With the speed of change so rapidly over taking the educational process it was decided that providing students in every subject and grade with textbooks it was more practical and vastly more efficient to equip each school with a library and have it provide the instructional and research materials that each learned needed. This process increased the burden on the classroom teacher and hence the plan involved manning the resource centre with a trained teacher librarian to assist the teacher in planning classes and carrying out the instruction process in the school.

It would be fair to say that resource based learning is a dismal failure. Few administrators understood the idea when it was introduced and most now became administrators after the introduction and are clue less about the idea. The result has been that even though the whole educational instructional process in the province is dependent upon the library and its teacher librarian administrators have solved budget problems but cutting the funding to their libraries and replacing teacher librarians with a clerk.

Saskatoon Public and other provincial systems this year are cutting their teacher librarians or asking them to fill in as baby sitting roles to allow classroom teachers to have spares. As a result of this change in policy more than twenty of Saskatoon's teacher librarians have requested regular teaching positions.

Text books can not provide students with the learning materials needed in today's learning environment and a trained teacher librarian is a necessity to keep instructional materials available from which students can work. With out teacher librarians school programmes are little more than behaviour

modification programmes.

This year's conference was overshadowed by the budget cut backs in Saskatoon and throughout the province.

Among the book displays was this simple display by Saunders who is on the verge of financial ruin due to the book return policy of the mega books stores.

The Saskatchewan Publishers Group continues to be a boost to Saskatchewan's innovative and forward thinking publishers. Besides a lot of material for aborigine based study there is a growing trend for Saskatchewan publishers to provide first rate materials designed for class room use with teacher and student study guides that enhance the material as well as reduce the burden for instruction with these materials.

Most Saskatchewan school systems do not have any teacher librarians. Tisdale which has two large schools in the town alone has only one Teacher librarian in the whole school division and that teacher has to work part time as a subject teacher in the high school.

Administrators need to come into line with the provincial curriculum and understand what they are doing with their budgets. Spending money on textbooks and workbooks is like fanning the flames of pure waste while putting money into the school's library and a teacher librarians is an investment in better student performance and an enhance school programme that will produce known and testable improvement for every student in the school.

Timothy W. Shire