ASLA: Celebrated 50 years in 2019
A Brief History
From 30 August to 1 September 1968, 210 educators and teacher librarians met at St Ursula's College, the Australian National University, Canberra, for what was to become the first in a series of national, biennial conferences for the profession. Organised by the School Library Association of Victoria (formed in 1960) and the School Library Association of New South Wales (formed in 1964) the conference became known as ASLA I.
The timing was significant as Mr. Malcolm Fraser, then the Federal Minister for Education and Science, had recently announced an initial grant of $27 million for secondary school libraries for the 1969–1971 period. Funds for primary school libraries were committed in 1974. Thus began a program of school library development, which attracted about $200 million of federal government funds and a similar amount of state governments’ funds from 1969 to 1980.
The theme of ASLA I was The School Library in Education and presenters included Professor Leonie Kramer, Maurice Saxby and Henry Schoenheimer. The program stated that the conference was convened to afford all interested in school librarianship the opportunity to meet and discuss major issues in this field, including the role of the teacher librarian in this development. It didn’t seem likely then, but this was to become the significant theme of future conferences: the teacher librarian’s expanding role/s in the changing learning environments of pedagogy and technology.
The program stated that the conference was also convened to consider and take steps towards the formation of a national organisation to represent the views of the school library profession. Subsequently, at a meeting in August 1969 in Canberra, the SLA of NSW joined with SLAV and the School Library Association of Canberra and District to form the Australian School Library Association (ASLA). The first Council meeting, held at the State Library, Melbourne, on 23 August 1969, elected Peter J Moore as president. The Association was recognised as a national body by the World Council of Teaching Professions at its meeting in Sydney in 1970. By March 1975 ASLA had membership of each state and territory school library association. The School Library Association of Papua New Guinea was a member from 1972 to 1977. A biennial conference then became an important means of investigating, challenging and defining aspects of the profession as well as establishing networks fundamental for this purpose.
- Bill Sommerville -