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

Planning on renovating your library? Think again

Laura Fleming

Think your library needs a renovation? You might be right, but before spending unnecessary money on a major overhaul, you might want to think again. I receive inquiries all of the time from schools whose libraries are not used, and thought that renovating their space was going to do the trick. Oftentimes, even with a big referendum that allows for a state-of-the-art renovation, those spaces continue to be unused.

The solution to turning a library around is NOT a renovation. It is the culture.

Upon my arrival at New Milford High School, in New Jersey, I walked into a library that was unused and that was referred to by my principal at the time, Eric Sheninger, as a ‘barren wasteland’. We didn’t have the luxury of a big sum of money to renovate our space, so we were forced to think of other ways to change it. Those changes focused not on how the space looked, but on transforming the culture of the space.

Thanks to a few core changes, our space went from being completely irrelevant to our school community to what Eric described as a ‘thriving learning metropolis’.

Continue reading Planning on renovating your library? Think again

Highlights of Connections 101

Here are the highlights from Connections issue 101, which is now available online. To download a PDF of the latest issue, please select this link.

Leadership is not optional – it’s a job requirement
In order to promote libraries as indispensable to the education community, the school library industry needs more leaders. Hilda Weisburg looks at how to step out of your comfort zone and into the leadership role.

Librarians in the digital age: experts in e-health
Susan Marshall explains how the school librarian’s role is central in developing students’ digital literacy and e-health, and introduces a free website to support online safety.

What do our students really want?
Megan Stuart, teacher librarian at Canterbury College, surveyed her students to discover what drew them into their resource centre — and what it could do to draw them in more.

Ebooks: to subscribe, or not to subscribe?
Teacher librarian at Singleton High School, Martin Gray, weighs the arguments for and against ebooks in schools.

Navigating the information landscape through collaboration
Elizabeth Hutchinson, Head of Schools’ Library Service in Guernsey, writes that information literacy is at the centre of student learning, making the role of library staff as important as ever.

Library catalogues and the World Wide Web: it takes two to tango
Nicole Richardson explores the way library catalogues engage with the World Wide Web to create a rich, interactive search experience.

Continue reading Highlights of Connections 101

Mackay libraries unite for award-winning Anzac project

In 2016, the ANZAC 100 Mackay Remembers: Field of Poppies Project received the Queensland School Library Association's Brian Bahnisch Award. The facilitator of the project, Margaret Spillman, shares her story, and how the community worked together to commemorate the ongoing Anzac centenary in a meaningful way.

Margaret Spillman
Teacher librarian
Mackay West State School

During the lead-up to the Anzac Centenary I wondered how we as a school community might honour the memory of those who served. In particular, I wanted a way for our students to be actively involved, as the future of the Anzac traditions lies in the hands of our young people. I was inspired by the Sea of Poppies outside the Tower of London. While the poppy might commonly be used for Remembrance Day, I decided to use it for our project as well because it is such a strong visual symbol for all those who served.

My concept was that students would create a poppy using a red plastic plate. This would have a soldier’s name written across the front. It would be attached to a bamboo stake and ‘planted’ on the front lawn of the Mackay Regional Council building in the week before Anzac Day 2015.

Continue reading Mackay libraries unite for award-winning Anzac project

Fare thee well, GMD

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).

SCIS is very pleased to announce the next major step in that plan. From April 2017, SCIS will cease use of the GMD (General Material Designation), a set of deprecated terms used to describe the ‘Type’ of resource.

SCIS will now use the RDA cataloguing standard of ‘Content, media and carrier type’ to describe the resource. This comes after consultation with, and preparation by, the library management systems who distribute SCIS metadata. While use of RDA for type was adopted as a SCIS cataloguing standard in 2013, GMD was maintained in order to support older systems, a move which is no longer necessary.

Continue reading Fare thee well, GMD

Subject Authority: avoiding the unknown unknown

We recently had a query from a user who asked us to explain the value of SCIS Subject Headings and the ScOT vocabulary — and the rather tricky subject of authority control. This query often comes up in our inbox, at conferences and at professional learning sessions, so now feels like a good time for a blog post on the matter.

SCIS vs ScOT — which to choose?
Firstly, we do not consider this an either/or scenario; nor do 100% of our users. SCIS Subject Headings have been developed and refined to support best-practice for resource management in education. SCIS records provide the foundation of consistent, best-quality metadata, to which ScOT headings can be a valuable supplement.

The SCIS Subject Headings vocabulary dates back to the early 1980s and is a pre-coordinated subject headings list. It is intended as an educationally-focused alternative to the Library of Congress Subject Headings. SCIS subscribers can choose to supplement SCIS Subject Headings with ScOT, a post-coordinated vocabulary of topical headings.

Continue reading Subject Authority: avoiding the unknown unknown