A group of teacher-librarians met to share ideas regarding what messages we wanted to present to MLAs on National School Library Day. We considered topics such as staffing, budget, the critical role of school library programs (e.g., technology integration, inquiry, etc.). We also discussed how school library program issues are connected to broader funding issues of public education in general. On top of this, we explored topics from Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley’s The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future of Educational Change and Barbara Stripling’s Curriculum Connections Through The Library.
Monday, October 26 - Early Morning
Several MLAs supported DEAR by going to Greater Victoria elementary schools and reading with students. These MLAs included: Carole James (South Park Elementary), Robin Austin, Diane Thorne (James Bay Elementary), and Ida Chong (Braefoot Elementary, in the place of Margaret MacDiarmid who was apparently ill). Two members of the BCTLA team were in attendance for Carole James’ reading. Other members of the group met with Adrian Dix and Shane Simpson in the Opposition Caucus room and discussed with them substantive issues surrounding teacher-librarianship and public education.
Monday, October 26 - Late Morning
Pat met with MLA Richard Lee (Lib.) and showed him the school library inquiry video created by the Vancouver Teacher-Librarians' Association inquiry group. Meanwhile, the other members of the group visited the Legislative Library. The library is spectacular, and still houses a card catalogue and microfiche for items that have not yet been added to an electronic database. The group worked to have a copy of the book, The Fourth Way, ordered which will be directed towards the MLAs we met with. Following this, at the appointed time in the day, the group participated in the DEAR Challenge in the beautiful surroundings of the Library Reading Room.
Mark Roberts (Cunningham Elementary, Vancouver) and Cheriee Weichel (Dickens Elementary, Vancouver) are reading at the Legislative Library at 11:15 am on October 26.
Monday, October 26 - Lunch
Members of the team met for lunch with Robin Austin, the Opposition Education Critic, and Diane Thorne, Deputy Education Critic. We discussed a wide range of issues around school libraries and education in general, including class size and composition (and the recent ruling), learning resources selection, support for Aboriginal learners, recent cuts affecting K-12, the overall lack of funding for K-12 including the trustees’ call to delay all-day Kindergarten, and the growing federation of all education stakeholders in support of renewed funding for the K-12 system.
Monday, October 26 - Afternoon
At 1:00 the entire group reconvened and picked up our reservation / seating passes, left our belongings at the security check and passed through the metal detector into the gallery. We made quick friends with the pages – ex-military or ex-police. Our team was introduced by MLA Ron Cantelon (Lib., Parksville/Qualicum). Pat was also introduced by MLA Richard Lee (Lib., Burnaby North). MLA Diane Thorne (NDP, Coquitlam/Maillardville) introduced Heather Daly and also recognized Karen Lindsay as this year’s recipient of the 2009 BC Teacher-Librarian of the Year – Diana Poole Memorial Award, to very great applause from both sides of the house.
Private members statements about National School Library Day were given by MLA Ron Cantelon and MLA Diane Thorne (Coquitlam/Maillardville). We were happy to hear that Ron Cantelon’s daughter-in-law is a teacher-librarian and that he supported DEAR. Diane’s speech presented a thorough understanding of the role of school library programs, mentioning inquiry and critical thinking.
The BCTLA team felt quite at home at the Legislature and used every resource in our lobby efforts. We think the BCTF was very well-served by letting a group of teacher-librarians loose on the Legislature building. The team proved very resourceful, one of many speciality-area-related capacities including also a propensity for information seeking and provision which was employed during the day. We were very happy to be able to bring our knowledge to the table in support of BCTF, BCTLA, and K-12 public education in general and thank the BCTF for supporting our lobbying visit.