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BCLA Perspectives

Local highlight: British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA)

The British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA) is a Professional Specialist Association (PSA) under the umbrella of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation. Its purpose is to represent teacher-librarians all over the province, as well as those who work in school library learning commons related fields.

BCTLA Goals

To promote the essential evolving role of the teacher-librarian within the education community by:

  • Affirming the essential role of the teacher-librarian in learning and educational change.
  • Working towards improving the working and learning conditions in B.C. school libraries and learning commons.
  • Increasing the involvement of teacher-librarians in professional development and curriculum development.
  • Encouraging the participation of teacher-librarians in BCTLA activities and publications.
  • Advocating for strong school libraries.

Who should join the group?

Anyone who is interested in teacher-librarianship. That includes teachers working as teacher-librarians, of course, but also those working in support capacities such as library techs and clerks working in educational settings, post-secondary professionals and student teachers.

What does typical involvement look like?

Members can participate at whatever level with which they are comfortable. All members receive quarterly newsletters and access to our BCTLA website, https://bctla.ca/, which is home to a host of important information such as professional development resources and awards and grants information.

Often, members are part of local chapters, which are district-based groups of teacher-librarians that are affiliated with the BCTLA. Chapters elect a president, treasurer and chapter councilor. Chapter councilors are invited to bi-annual meetings with the BCTLA paying the costs for these chapter councilors to attend. We do this to ensure that members living outside of the lower mainland have fewer obstacles to participation in our PSA.

Every October, our PSA runs a BCTLA conference in the lower mainland. Each conference is an opportunity for members to explore new skills within teacher-librarianship and to network with peers from around the province. Our October 2019 conference, entitled From Dewey to Diversity, is focused on how teacher-librarians’ can promote and value diversity within their library learning commons programs. Registration is now open and can be accessed at https://bctla.ourconference.ca/.

Every second year, the BCTLA also collaborates with a district or group outside the lower mainland to run a professional development summer institute. In 2017, our summer institute was held in beautiful Kamloops and focused on indigenous education and reconciliation.

Highlights

This year, our PSA has focused heavily on advocacy efforts. Each year, we conduct a Working and Learning Conditions survey, which collects information on the conditions under which teacher-librarians work throughout the province. The information collected in this survey is then used to create reports that can be accessed by members on our website at https://bctla.ca/member-services/working-learning-conditions/. As an extension of these efforts, Leisbet Beaudry, our Membership and Surveys Coordinator, and BCTF Researcher Anne Hales, wrote the article Renaissance Delayed: Supporting Early Career Teacher-Librarians in British Columbia. This article outlines the needs and support gaps for new teacher-librarians, based on interviews with early career teacher-librarians. It is available at https://bctf.ca/Teacher-Librarians/. Such documents are often used by members to advocate for improved conditions such as increased teacher-librarian time or budgets.

Members of our executive have been working on statements that can be used for further advocacy efforts. Look for statements on diversity and collaboration on our website this fall, along with information on Drop Everything and Read Day on October 21, 2019 and Love Your School Library Day on February 14, 2020.

Membership and Contacts

To become a member of the BCTLA, visit the membership page of our website at https://bctla.ca/member-services/become-a-member/. The BCTLA welcomes all correspondence. Contact information can be found on our website. Additionally, we encourage all those interested in becoming a part of our executive to reach out to a current executive member to find out more about these positions.


Kristie Oxley is the President of the British Columbia Teacher- Librarians’ Association and District Teacher-Librarian, SD#40.