By Heather Daly
The story of the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association begins in 1939, when it was founded under the name “BC School Librarians’ Association.” It was in that year, for the first time, that “all forty-nine elementary schools [in Vancouver] had libraries, making Vancouver the only city in Canada with that level of service” (Obee 115). At that time, Victoria librarian Margaret Clay noted that the libraries in schools should include “gramophone records and good periodicals” (115).
School libraries “…became more important in the instructional program, beginning in 1964, due to teaching methods that stressed independent learning and individualized instruction” (Haycock 22). In 1966, “The Department of Education conducted a Survey of British Columbia School Libraries giving support for a strong school library program to support inquiry and discovery learning” (22).
The BC School Librarians’ Association officially became a PSA in 1967, and the association was a founding member of the PSA Council in 1971.
In the mid-1970s, the term “teacher-librarian” was developed in BC to emphasize the teaching portion of the role and that the professional in the library was a teacher and BCTF member; concordantly, the school library came to be seen more as a classroom in its own right. In 1983, the BC School Librarians’ Association became the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association to reflect the changed role. The term “teacher-librarian” is now commonly used throughout the world.
Today, the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA) offers:
- a year-round professional development program featuring an annual conference, webinars, and a summer institute.
- the annual Drop Everything and Read day which last year had over 60,000 participants, and other events including Love Your School Library Day.
- social media options, including seven blogs, three wikis, two Twitter accounts, a Ning, and a Facebook group.
- professional publications such as The Bookmark journal, school library position statements, and BCTLA book reviews.
- guides and tools for all BC educators, including The Points of Inquiry: A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st-Century Learner and Ethics of Information Use: A Guide for Teachers.
- 14 awards and grants, including one to support teacher-librarian professional inquiry.
- resources and statistics to support school library and teacher-librarian advocacy efforts, including the results from BCTLA’s nearly 30 years of annual BC school library working and learning conditions surveys.
The BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association serves as an example to other associations. Beginning in the 2012–13 school year, BCTLA will be the subject of a two-year school library advocacy study sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians. The chair of the awards committee who scrutinized the grant application for the study noted that the research “has the potential to serve as a model for future school-library advocacy.” BCTLA has also recently been invited to join an international committee working to develop a school library advocacy toolkit.
In 2014, the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association will celebrate its 75th anniversary as a group of “Professionals—Serving School Libraries” in British Columbia.
Heather Daly, president, BCTLA, www.bctf.ca/bctla
Haycock, Ken. 2008. “School Libraries in Vancouver: Factors Affecting Development.” The Bookmark 48, 2: 19–25. Vancouver: British Columbia Teacher-Librarians Association.
Obee, Dave. 2011. The Library Book: A History of Service to British Columbia. Vancouver: British Columbia Library Association.