This report seeks to analyse the
findings of the data produced for the Scottish element of this project.
The report is based on Instruments 1 and 2 due to time restrictions and
it includes recommendations for future actions and research in this area.
In Scotland, virtually all state secondary schools (age 11-18) have professional librarians who are referred to as "school librarians". These librarians mainly have a bachelor's degree in a subject area (e.g. history) and a postgraduate qualification in Information and Library Management or a bachelor's degree in Information and Library Management. In the private sector, there is a mixture of professional librarians, non-qualified librarians and "teacher librarians" who are teachers who spend a few hours looking after the library. Primary schools in Scotland do not have qualified librarians. The main trend affecting school librarians in Scotland is the decrease in the support which they receive from the local authority School Library Service. There has been a gradual run down in the funding of these services and this affects school librarians in that they now receive less inservice training, professional advice and loan of materials such as books and CD-ROMs. Most schools now have Internet connections and, due to a government initiative, all schools will have networked Internet access within 2 years.
For this project, it was decided
to survey only state secondary schools since primary schools in Scotland
do not have school librarians and in the private sector, some schools do
not have qualified librarians. As the aim was to survey about 200 schools,
with the hope of a 40% response rate from both school librarians and headteachers
(i.e. principals), questionnaires were sent out to 50% of all Scottish
secondary schools. The method used was to choose every alternate school
listed by educational authority in the educational guide "Educational Authorities
Directory" 1998. This ensured that an equal balance of urban and rural
schools was chosen. There was no attempt to balance the choice of Catholic
schools, which are found mainly in the west of Scotland, in the sample.
200 schools were sent 2 questionnaires and the response rate was 44 i.e.
22% for both headteachers and school librarians. A total of 75 school
librarians returned questionnaires but data was only included where 2 questionnaires
were returned from the school. In some areas, permission had to be gained
from the local authority before questionnaires were sent out.
In each school, a questionnaire was sent to the headteacher and the school librarian in separate enveloped - mainly to ensure that the school librarian actually received the questionnaire. A stamped addressed reply envelope was included with the school librarian's questionnaire and the headteacher was asked to forward his/her questionnaire to the school librarian for return. On reflection, this was not a good idea. In only a few cases did the school librarian return both questionnaires. In most cases, the school librarian returned her questionnaire in one envelope and the headteacher's questionnaire was returned separately. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this ignored the politics of the school in that the headteacher is the senior manager in the school and, in most schools, the school librarian has the status of a class teacher i.e. is not even a head of department. It was clear that headteachers were, in most cases, not prepared to let the school librarian see what they had written. There has, however, been no systematic check on this point amongst the schools. If the survey was done again, a separate stamped addressed reply envelope would be provided for the headteachers as well as the school librarian.
There were some problems with the
wording of a minority of the questions. For example, there appeared to
be some confusion about what constituted an Internet connections and Internet
points in the school. As an incentive to schools to return both questionnaires,
a British Telecom fax machine was offered as a prize for the school chosen
from a prize draw consisting of all schools who sent back 2 questionnaires.
British Telecom provided the fax machine in the form of sponsorship and
a leaflet about the company's educational service was provided with each
questionnaire. The data input, which was done by one of the author's students,
took 25 hours and there were no problems with the data input.
The schools returning both questionnaires tended to be the larger secondary schools in Scotland, with 42% having over 1000 pupils (i.e. students) and 38% having 600-999 pupils. In terms of staffing, 69% have between 60 and 100 staff. These figures are likely to be higher than the national average in terms of size of school. 90% of schools had 1 school librarian and only 2.4% have 2 school librarians. 44% of the schools are urban and 56% are rural. Thus the schools profiled in the project do reflect the urban/rural split in Scotland.
In the survey, 42% of school librarians were aged 40-49 and an equal percentage were aged 20-39 but these figures are unlikely to reflect the national profile which would show a higher percentage of younger school librarians. In addition, 21% were male which does not reflect the gender balance of school librarians in Scotland. 60% of school librarians in this survey had been in their present position between 0 and 9 years and 40% between 10 and 19 years. In the author's experience, this latter figure appears to be very high and does not reflect the national profile. Virtually all the school librarians were graduates with some having postgraduate qualifications. Only 2.4% were members of a listserv and this reflects the absence of a listserv for UK school librarians. In terms of professional reading, 75% read 1 journal and 50% 2 or 3 journals.
The age range of headteachers (58% between 40 and 49) is likely to reflect the national profile as is the 86% male figure and the experience in terms of teaching and senior management. Headteachers were, in general, used to working with school librarians as 75% of them had worked with either 1 or 2 school librarians since becoming a headteacher.
spent on tasks
Overall, the school librarians believed that their headteachers should spend more time in the future than at present on most of the tasks but in particular, on
There were some significant differences in beliefs between the school librarians and the headteachers in this study but there were also many key areas where headteachers and school librarians shared the same beliefs.
Thus there was agreement on aspects such as :
Although the level of response to this study in Scotland was disappointing (although not particularly unusual for a postal study), there are a number of significant issues which have been raised and the results can be seen as mainly positive, despite some differences in beliefs being found. The key recommendations which this author would make are :
Note : The author would like to thank
British Telecom for their part sponsorship of this study and Andrew Shields
for his work in data input.