How the school library saved my life

Megan McDonald
Children’s book author

I grew up reading—at the school library, on the bookmobile, at the comic book store, at home next to the heater under the piano. As a girl, I found pieces of myself in the characters of Ramona, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls, Jo March, Harriet the Spy, Jane Eyre.

Continue reading How the school library saved my life

You think you know what librarians do?

Corey Thornblad
Teacher
Kilmer Middle School, Virginia, USA

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the annual Virginia Association of School Librarians conference in Norfolk, Virginia. I’ll admit that I was a fish out of water – the only teacher in a sea of school librarians. Even though I don’t know much about the Dewey Decimal System or online catalogues, they made me feel right at home.

As I sat at dinner, listening to their conversation about teaching and learning, I realised that unless you have had the privilege of working in a school over the past decade you may not understand what school librarians actually do. Librarians are not a braggy bunch, so I feel inclined to set the record straight on their behalf. You probably think they spend their entire day shelving and checking out books, while shushing students. It’s time to set aside these stereotypes and give librarians their long overdue kudos.

Continue reading You think you know what librarians do?

Highlights of Connections 103

Here are the highlights from Connections issue 103, which is now available online. You can also download a copy of the full-text PDF.

Reimagining the library landscape: an approach to school library design
Carey Baptist Grammar School recently rebuilt their middle and senior library. Anne Whisken outlines their library’s approach to designing learning spaces, ensuring all students’ needs are catered for.

Turning the school library into a thriving community hub
Anne Devenish explains how engaging with your school’s wider community can help your library become a thriving, welcoming space.

ELR, or the super fund you have when you don’t have a super fund
Acclaimed author Nadia Wheatley was part of the original committee that championed the ELR initiative in Australia, and here she shares her story.

Ten ways to advocate for your role as a teacher librarian
Jenny Kemp suggests ten ways you can show your school why they need their teacher librarian.

Celebrating the school library officer
Madeleine Galbraith speaks to various library officers in Western Australia about their roles, their libraries, and how they contribute to their school communities.

The challenge of implementing change
Implementing change is a process that requires time, empathy, and a shared vision between school library staff and school management teams. Angela Platt shares her experiences.

Know your rights and responsibilities: teaching digital citizenship
Susan Marshall looks at some of the rights and responsibilities that we inherit, and must teach, in the digital world.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Connections, and invite you to send any feedback to connections@esa.edu.au.

SCIS system launch

The SCIS team is pleased to announce the launch of the new SCIS system, found at www.scisdata.com.

For a quick overview, you can watch our short video.

Key features include:

  • richer search capabilities
  • new vocabularies to enrich discovery
  • online cataloguing requests
  • ease of download for print and digital content
  • online invoicing and payments.

Subscribers can log into the new system using their existing username and password. If you are not a current subscriber, you can register for a free trial.

We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to the ESA Technology team, the library management system vendors who work with us, designer Regine Abos, photographer Brent Lukey, and the more than 3,000 SCIS users who contributed feedback via workshops, surveys, online forums, focus groups and UAT testing.

We consider this the beginning of an exciting new era for SCIS. Please stay tuned for more announcements. And if you need any assistance, please email help@scisdata.com.

Thank you, from the SCIS team.

The dreaded case of duplicate ISBNs

Doreen Sullivan
SCIS Cataloguing team leader

Have you ever had this experience? You search for or download the record for an ISBN and a completely different title is returned. Huh? How could SCIS have gotten it so wrong?

In most cases, this is not a mistake. The fact is, sometimes publishers print the same ISBN on more than one of their publications. Although ISBNs are meant to be unique to each title edition, it is surprisingly common for publishers to give the same ISBN to different books.

These are known as ‘duplicate ISBNs’ or ‘ISBN duplicates’, and they are frustrating for all concerned. It means that the same ISBN could show in two or more SCIS records.

When a SCIS cataloguer creates a record with a known duplicate ISBN, they will include a note like this: ‘Duplicate ISBN. Linked to SCIS record no. 911499’. But if you’re simply downloading a record, chances are you won’t see the note field.

You can set your profile to ‘Prompt me to choose from a list’ when ISBN duplicates appear. If you have this setting enabled and we’ve catalogued both items — the same ISBN but two different titles — the SCIS system will inform you of the duplication when you go to download the record directly from SCIS. Then you can select the title you need.

If you need more information to make your choice, we recommend performing an ISBN search on the SCIS catalogue, which will provide the SCIS number for each record. You can then download the record using the relevant SCIS number.

And if SCIS hasn’t catalogued two records — you can only see one title and it’s not the one you want — please contact us at catinfo@esa.edu.au so we can look into the issue for you.

To change your ISBN duplicate settings in your SCIS profile, please follow the prompts in the article, My Quick Scan result does not match the item ordered.

For more information on downloading SCIS records, please see our brief video, Downloading records in SCIS.

The Australian Reading Hour – a perfect fit for school libraries

Anita McMillan
Knowledge and Learning Resources Manager
West Moreton Anglican College

It is exciting to be involved in a process where different industries band together to create a whole that is worth far more than the sum of its parts. It is both professionally and personally exciting when it’s all about what we love best – reading.

I’ve had the honour of working with the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and a number of other book industry giants to take the Australian Reading Hour campaign to new heights. This year on Thursday 14 September we are asking all Australians to set aside one hour to read. Libraries, bookshops, publishers, authors, illustrators, politicians and corporations will all be involved.

As school library staff, we are in the perfect position to organise, facilitate (or at the very least encourage) such a reading activity for our entire school community – staff, students, parents and supporters.

What is the Australian Reading Hour?

The Australian Reading Hour’s premise is simple.

It’s about picking up an Australian book and reading for an hour any time during the day or night on Thursday 14 September.

The Australian Reading Hour is the first cross-industry reading campaign supported by the whole book industry – the Australian Society of Authors, the Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Booksellers Association, the Australian Library and Information Association, the Australian Literary Agents’ Association, and the Copyright Agency.

How can my school be involved?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Register your school at readinghour.org.au, and download the school information pack from the ‘Resources’ tab.
  • Let your school community know about the Australian Reading Hour via newsletters, emails, your learning management system, the library site itself, digital signage and social media.
  • Create a display of your favourite Australian books in your library.
  • Leave some library books in your school’s staffroom.
  • Post on social media about your favourite Australian books and favourite time and place to read.
  • Post on social media about what you will be reading for the Australian Reading Hour on 14 September.
  • Create a reading nook that will encourage your readers to come in and read in the library.
  • Host a reading lunch hour or reading camp-out.
  • Tweet about the Reading Hour on the day, using #brbReading (stands for Be Right Back – Reading).

How can I find out more?

The official Australian Reading Hour website provides the opportunity to register and access resources.

ALIA has put together an event site, with lots of useful ideas and information.

The Australian Reading Hour is managed by Cheryl Akle, Better Reading. You can contact Cheryl via email: cheryl@betterreading.com.au.

Enjoy leading and encouraging your school community to take one hour out of their busy schedules on 14 September, to read.

Self-advocacy through evidence-based practice

Cathy Costello
Teacher librarian
Campbelltown Performing Arts High School
http://www.virtuallibrary.info

As teacher librarians, we can become frustrated and feel we are victims of occupational invisibility – that our contribution to whole-school programs and student outcomes is unseen and undervalued. This feeling may be due to the nature of our work in empowering colleagues. As a result, our contribution is often swallowed up in the successes of others (Oberg 2006). Our invisibility is also because, while we can see the impact we make on a daily basis, we can usually only offer anecdotal evidence regarding our contributions (Hay & Todd 2010; Lamb & Johnson 2004–2007).

To remedy this, we need to throw off the victim mentality and advocate for ourselves. We must become proactive. We must self-promote and make visible our contribution. To this end, we need to gather hard evidence to unequivocally prove that we make a difference (Bonnano & Moore 2009; Hay & Todd 2010). According to the Australian Library and Information Association (2004), excellent teacher librarians ‘undertake research which informs evidence-based innovation in school library programs’. Likewise, Hay & Foley (2009) advocate that, to build capacity for student learning in the 21st century, teacher librarians need to employ evidence-based practice to support a ‘continuous improvement cycle’. Similarly, The NSW Department of Education and Training (2010) has posited evidence-based practice as one of its foremost recommendations in creating sustainable futures for school libraries.

By undertaking evidence-based practice, we will not only be provided with hard evidence to show how and why teacher librarians make important contributions to student learning. We will also have an avenue for reflective practice that helps us to evaluate and constantly improve our teaching and learning programs (Gordon 2010; Todd 2003).

Evidence-based practice does not require exceptional analytical skills. We just need to begin gathering proof that we make a difference to student learning (Todd 2003). We can begin on the evidence-based practice journey by collecting documentation such as student work samples, student reflections and surveys, observation notes, focus group feedback, rubrics, peer reviews, lesson plans, checklists, critical feedback, circulation statistics and test scores (Lamb & Johnson 2004-2007; O’Connell 2012; Todd 2003).

One tried and true method of undertaking evidence-based practice is within a Guided Inquiry process. The Guided Inquiry framework is not only a model for promoting higher order thinking and information literacy skills, it also provides a mechanism for conducting evidence-based practice (FitzGerald 2011; Todd 2003). The Student Learning Through Inquiry Measure (SLIM) was originally developed as an assessment tool for use during the Guided Inquiry process (Gordon 2010; Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2007; Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström 2005). The SLIM toolkit also provides the dual purpose of allowing teacher librarians to undertake effective evidence-based practice (FitzGerald 2011; Scheffers 2008).

If we, as teacher librarians, want to be taken seriously as education professionals, we need to be proactive and self-promote our research findings using evidence-based practice in our schools. By doing this we can prove the contribution we make to improving student learning outcomes and demonstrate continued improvement in our teaching practices. To reinforce our own research findings, we can also direct teachers and executives to the strong empirical evidence of other academics who likewise prove the difference teacher librarians make to student achievement (NSW DET 2010; Oberg 2002).

Continue reading Self-advocacy through evidence-based practice

Highlights of Connections 102

Here are the highlights from Connections issue 102, which is now available online. To download a PDF of the latest issue, please select this link.

Tinkering, making and building in the school library
With the increasing popularity of makerspaces in schools, school libraries are frequently seen as the leaders in hands-on technologies such as coding and robotics. Jackie Child shares ideas for engaging students with computational thinking — and resources to make it as easy as possible for library staff.

A thank you to libraries and ELR
Mem Fox shares her experiences with libraries and children’s literature, and emphasizes the need for trained librarians in all schools.

The great escape
In 2017, the CBCA’s Book Week theme is ‘Escape to Everywhere’. Sarah Bakker offers suggestions for using the shortlisted books to inspire creative writing activities.

Genrefying the fiction collection
Susan Davenport discusses the genrefication process of Radford College’s senior fiction collection, and how the school community has responded.

Read, respond, celebrate: engaging with the CBCA short list
Josephine Laretive suggests ways to explore the CBCA’s short list, providing students with rich learning experiences.

How are you using SCIS?
Ben Chadwick provides insight into the way subscribers use the SCIS platform – and how these statistics are being used to inform decisions about the next chapter of SCIS.

School libraries support digital technologies
Martin Richards explains how libraries can extend their offering of digital technologies, using some practical examples.

School library spotlight: Glen Eira College
Karys McEwen, College Librarian at Glen Eira College, talks to SCIS about what’s happening in her library.

SCIS is more
SCIS Manager Dr Ben Chadwick shares information about the new SCIS system, coming soon.

Website & app reviews
Nigel Paull reviews websites and apps relevant to the education community.

As always, we hope you enjoy this issue. We welcome any feedback you have about this issue or any ideas you have for future Connections articles or blog posts. Please email connections@esa.edu.au.

Happy reading!

Ignite wide reading with diverse resources at your school library

Josephine Laretive
Teacher librarian
Moriah College, NSW

School libraries have a vital role in the provision and promotion of quality and diverse reading materials that inform, value and ignite reading. Promoting ‘a reading culture through the active promotion of literature’ (Australian School Library Association, 2004) is one of the ASLA teacher librarian standards. Promotion and access to varied reading materials ‘helps students to engage imaginatively and critically with literature to expand the scope of their experience’ (Australian Curriculum: English v8.3). Encouraging wide reading and access to a variety of reading materials increases students’ interests and motivation to read (Miller, 2012). ‘Numerous research studies prove that wide reading improves children’s comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary, fluency, and writing’ (Krashen, 2004 as cited in Miller, 2012). Furthermore, literacy development and achievement is benefited by recreational reading and reading for enjoyment (Merga, 2016).

The following resources have made a difference to the diversity of reading resources available to children at my school library, adding to the existing range of imaginative and informative books. The resources that follow also link to the Australian Curriculum in that they provide access to imaginative, informative and persuasive texts in different formats and for different age levels.

Continue reading Ignite wide reading with diverse resources at your school library

Where SCIS becomes much more … muchier

For anyone who may follow us on social media, or has chatted to the team recently, you may be aware that SCIS keeps talking about our ‘big infrastructure upgrade’. This is the result of three years of quantitative and qualitative market research – thank you once again to everyone who has provided feedback along the way.

So here’s a little more detail about what a SCIS infrastructure upgrade means, and why we’re so excited.

A sparkly new SCIS website

It’s time for a change. We are building a new SCIS website to provide a simpler user experience, more intuitive help articles, and online payment options in multiple currencies. Renewal invoices will now be emailed to subscribers, rather than posted.

More importantly, subscribers will have access to richer search capabilities, ease of record download for print and digital content, and the capacity to track the status of cataloguing requests. The SCIS team, with vendor support, will be providing plenty of training for new and existing users.

The new website will be officially launched at ASLA 2017 and SLANZA 2017 – so if you’re attending one of these amazing conferences, please swing by to say hello and see the new SCIS system in action.

Data formats

We’re particularly pleased about the opportunities our new site will provide us as we move into the future. The library world is changing, with new practices, formats and standards, including Web 2.0, linked data, and FRBR to name a few. With the new site, SCIS will be well positioned to pioneer into these new frontiers.

The RDA journey

Since early 2014, SCIS has been working through its RDA implementation plan. For those who are not familiar with RDA, it stands for Resource Description and Access, the cataloguing standard introduced to replace Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AARC2).

Genre
From 1 April 2017, SCIS commenced cataloguing genre terms into the 655 field. On top of this, the SCIS team have been tinkering away with a project to retrospectively update all relevant records with genre terms. We are pleased to announce this project is now complete.

Publication Details
In another major RDA step, SCIS now catalogues items using the 264 MARC field for publication details instead of the deprecated 260 field.

Resource Type
SCIS has ceased use of the GMD (General Material Designation), a set of deprecated terms used to describe ‘Type’ of resource.  SCIS now uses the RDA cataloguing standard of ‘Content, media and carrier type’ to describe the resource. SCIS will be leveraging linked data technologies to provide user-friendly descriptions in our new catalogue through a brand new SCIS Resource Type vocabulary.

Cataloguing range

SCIS works to catalogue as much educational content as possible, and we’re particularly proud that our hit rate has increased year-on-year, to now be sitting at an average of 90%. As the market has changed, so has the content being used in libraries. In response to this, SCIS are now cataloguing a lot more digital material and a lot more international content. If you haven’t yet downloaded records for digital content into your library management system, you can read this article for some great reasons why you should.

A SCIStastic future

We have some pretty big plans for our new system. Right now we’re working towards release of a third authority – Series Authority – for 2018. If you’re after a reason why we love authorities (and why they are so important in school libraries) you can read our blog on the matter.

And the innovation won’t end there. Watch this space.

Continue reading Where SCIS becomes much more … muchier