In November, the Alberta School Board Association (ASBA) passed the following resolution. "That ASBA urge Alberta Education to adopt the standards for school library programs that are outlined in Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Programs in Canada, edited by Asselin,M., Branch,J., and Oberg,D., and fund jurisdictions appropriately, with the goal of reaching the exemplary standard in all Alberta schools by 2015".
ASLC was able to work with the trustees in providing background information, stories and research to support such a motion. It was the building of relationships with school trustees which gave ASLC networks to bring about advocacy for school libraries from other educational stakeholders.
In April, I had the opportunity to participate in the Canadian Ministers of Education Council (CMEC) Pan-Canadian Literacy Forum, which was held across Canada. Four out of every ten Albertans are considered functionally illiterate, despite our high achievements on international academic tests.
In May 2008, Alberta Education hired Judith Sykes as a Library Resource Manager to revise the 1984 standards, policy and guidelines for school libraries in conjunction with an examination of the Achieving Information Literacy (2003) standards. ASLC has been invited to provide input and consultation regarding the development of these new standards. Judith will also oversee the development of a supporting document for Focus on Inquiry, which will focus on deepening students' understanding. ASLC will act as a focus group to provide feedback on the development of this document. This is very significant news. Alberta Education has had no one individual in charge of school libraries for 17 years! Needless to say, this has brought great hope to our surviving teacher-librarians. We are finding that we are now faced with the dilemma of wanting to hire teacher-librarians, but do not have people trained or applying for positions.
Our newly appointed Minister of Education, Dave Hancock, attended the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) Annual Representative Assembly (ARA) in Calgary. He invited members of the ATA to address him about issues in Education where two of our executive members had an opportunity to speak to the minister about school libraries, which he responded positively towards. We are eager to continue our positive dialogue with our new minister, who has an extensive understanding of educational issues.
ASLC has had an increase in its membership with the ATA offering free membership for all teachers to one specialist council of their choice. We will be reorganizing into North/South regionals. The manner in which we provide PD will change to better meet the needs of our membership who are dispersed across the province. We will implement the use of Web 2.0 tools, such as video-conferencing, webinars, wikis, etc. to facilitate PD between members. We will be watching how other provinces use Web 2.0 and hopefully, learn to communicate in new ways with one another, as well as our students.
Fern Reirson, President
Alberta School Library Council
Alberta Teachers' Association