Talking Library at Queen’s Park

It was #libraryday at Queen’s Park today and I was part of it! Today was the first of many annual events to come where library advocates from the Ontario Library Association meet with MPP’s, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Policy Advisors to share information about the impact of libraries across our province.

#libraryday@ Queens Park

#libraryday@ Queens Park

My team began our day meeting with Deputy Minister of Education George Zegarac and Assistant Deputy Minister Grant Clarke. We had a wonderful conversation talking about the impact of effective school library programs on student literacy, TL’s as leaders in digital literacy, the importance of the  library learning commons as community connectors and safe havens for our students. We also discussed the importance of embedding the role of the Teacher Librarian in pre-service training for teachers, how effective library commons can support the needs of First Nation, Metis and Inuit learners and curriculum. It was a great conversation and the Minister was very interested in learning how the OSLA and Teacher Librarians across the province could support teachers in all of these areas. Our team was very encouraged and look forward to following up on this conversation.

Shortly after we had the opportunity to meet with Katie Williams, the Policy Advisor to Education Minister Liz Sandals, she too was very supportive in our conversation and was eager to learn more about the impact of The Forest of Reading programs on student literacy.  We will be inviting Katie and the Minister to our upcoming Superconference and Forest of Reading Celebration for sure!

I attended question period in the house for the first time in my life! What a ruckus!! It was interesting to see Premier Kathleen Wynne and all the MPP’s in action, but I certainly was left wondering how anything actually gets done! However, seeing this part of the democratic process in action in real time was pretty darn interesting.

Our day was wrapped up by each team member meeting as constituents with our respective MPP’s to share the big picture messages about School Libraries, Public Libraries, First Nations Libraries, and Academic Libraries.  The conversations were rich and focused on our home turf.

So now I’m home and I’m thinking about the day, the impact we may or may not have made and about our next steps. I am encouraged that so many of our elected officials are interested in hearing our stories and learning about how libraries curate the culture, support communities, engage all learners and are so very relevant in a digital age.

Advocating for Teacher Librarianship

This year I am Vice President of the Ontario School Library Association. Part of this three year commitment is that I attend the quarterly meetings of the Ontario Library Association Board and take part in interesting & challenging discussions with some of the smartest people in the field of Libraries, Knowledge and Technology.

Yesterday our activities were focused on planning forward for the OLA as a whole and specifically on the importance of advocating for the importance of Teacher Librarians in schools across the province of Ontario.

Advocacy is a big hairy monster of a discussion that is not for the feint of heart. It is also necessary to ensure that today’s learners, educators and administrators understand the important role we have in every publicly funded school in our province. Understanding our key role in the school community is imperative in order to advocate for the appropriate supports in our education system to ensure the Teacher Librarian and effective School Library programs continue to be part of every school.

So my question to Teacher Librarians in Ontario and beyond…..can you  effectively and succinctly describe your role to colleagues, administrators and the greater school community? Does your description align with the vision of literate graduates in the 21st Century? With this in place I think our path forward becomes clear.

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