Highlights of Connections 100


Here are the highlights from the 100th issue of Connections, which is now available online. To download a PDF of the latest issue, please select this link.

Looking back: school library catalogues and the online revolution
Ex-SCIS manager Lance Deveson looks back on teacher librarianship over the past 40 years, including the introduction of automated cataloguing and the early days of SCIS and Connections.

Leigh Hobbs on school libraries and storytelling
SCIS speaks to Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs about his experiences in school libraries, children’s literature, storytelling, and creating characters.

Collector, curator or collaborator?
Jennie Bales, adjunct lecturer at Charles Sturt University, celebrates the collaborative ethos inherent in school library professionals.

Guerilla book fair: getting staff involved in your school library
UK-based school librarian Lucas Maxwell recommends ways to encourage teachers to make use of school libraries.

The future role of the teacher librarian
As the scope of information and technology continues to expand, Dr James Herring considers what impact this will have on the role of teacher librarians.

Let’s talk seriously about series
SCIS cataloguer Julie Styles explains the challenges of cataloguing items within series.

We welcome any feedback you have about this issue, or any ideas you have for future Connections articles. Please email connections@esa.edu.au.

Happy reading!

Termly themes: a year in the school library

Angie Morris
Head of Information Services
Redeemer Lutheran College

The library as a space is a complex idea. It serves as a learning space, a research space, a social space, an innovative space, and a flexible space (Chan & Spodick, 2014) — especially in a school context, where the library is viewed as a place to extend the curriculum. In addition, the teacher librarians who have redefined their libraries in recent years to remain relevant to their clientele can testify to the importance of creating a cultural space as well. This is not a new idea; concerts have been held in the Library of Congress since 1925 (Brown 2014, p. 391).

To ensure my senior school student clientele did not completely miss the benefits of enjoying the library as a fun place to be, I pulled the idea of themes from my 28-year experience as a primary teacher. I sought meaningful ways to link ideas together and to provide a structure to organise displays and activities in the library. I trialled this in 2016 with some success. In collaboration with our library staff and teacher librarians in the OZTL_NET community, we decided on four themes — one per term.


This theme was a great way to start the year. We placed a display in front of the library, which included ways to connect in the library: with staff, with information, with each other. We encouraged students to contribute to a large paper chain art installation which dangled from the railings of the mezzanine floor. At times, the senior school can be disjointed — in different subjects, different sporting groups, different cultural and music groups — so we publicised it to the community as a way to illustrate how we all connect together. Students were keen contributors with home group classes and other groups participating. Some students made an art form in the way the paper chains were connected. It was a fulfilling community bonding project.

To coincide with the theme ‘Connect’, staff and students contributed to the paper chains, illustrating how everyone is connected.

I purchased a large outline jigsaw puzzle, allowing students to put it together and then colour the pieces. This also proved to be a special device for bringing students and staff together from different year levels, who contributed piece by piece to the puzzle over a period of several weeks.


The Create Gallery showcased original works by staff members in the school.

The ongoing art installation of paper chains gave an inspiring backdrop to hold a ‘Create Gallery’ in the library in Term 2. We invited all staff — both academic and support — to contribute items they created, from craft to paintings. We set up the display like an art gallery, with information regarding each piece. It was a wonderful way to demonstrate lifelong learning to students: that learning does not cease when school finishes. It also showed that talent can come from surprising sources, such as the teacher who no one knew painted, or the cleaning staff who knitted unique jumpers.

A maker station was placed to allow an opportunity for students to create corner bookmarks. We provided raw materials with some display examples. Students were very creative in their designs and often left them for others to emulate as examples, thereby ensuring the learning was passed on.


This theme became a great anchor for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week activities during the term. A library staff member teased out the Australia: Story Country idea and put together a ‘Fiction race around Australia’ to coincide with the 2016 theme. We have a great multimedia space in the library and used this for Movie Weeks twice during the term, showing the movie on the big screen coupled with a display about the book series or author.

In addition to all this, we held a Publisher’s Display Day where we invited publisher representatives and book suppliers to set up in the library for the day. Both staff and students were then allowed to select resources from the displays to add to the collection. It was a great way for teachers to see what new resources were available and for students to have a greater say in the fiction book selection. This was a profitable partnership for all parties.


We had the best intention to utilise ideas that built on STEM concepts, such as competitions like The Marshmallow Tower Challenge and a Lego competition. We also intended to focus on group activities. A combination of a shorter term, heavy assessment time, and a total refurbishment of the main floor of the library stymied our efforts and we literally ran out of time.

Sharing ideas

When critically evaluating our efforts with themes in 2016, I considered using different theme titles moving into 2017, and again sought ideas and advice from teacher librarian network OZTL_NET. I had many responses for ideas, but in the end, we decided as a staff to keep the same four themes in 2017 to consolidate our efforts and expand the ideas. This was only our first year and we will only improve and grow our efforts over time.

These ideas would not have been possible except for the contributions from many experienced teacher librarians who willingly shared their thoughts and ideas. Idea sharing is invaluable for both the new teacher librarian, such as myself, and the experienced teacher librarian, who is interested in trying new things. Just like the concerts held in the Library of Congress, the concept of themes is not new, either. Many teacher librarians have been using such ideas, particularly in primary libraries, for a while.

It is important to recognise that as we establish cultural space in our libraries, we can gather ideas from many other sources and create a new approach to an old idea, putting it into practice in our own unique situations. Try something new, even if you don’t think it will succeed. The response from the clientele can be surprising.

The Create Gallery helped students see that lifelong learning does not end after school.


Brown, CM 2014, ‘Concerts and dances in a library? An undergraduate library as campus cultural space’, College & Research Libraries News, vol. 75, no. 7, pp. 387-391.

Chan, DLH & Spodick, E 2014, ‘Space development’, New Library World, vol. 115, no. 5, pp. 250-262.

Do you have any ideas for themes in school libraries? We'd love to hear about them in the comment section below.

You can also contact Angie at amorris@redeemer.com.au.

Collector, curator or collaborator?: Suggested PLNs for school library staff

In SCIS's Term 1 issue of Connections, Jennie Bales, adjunct lecturer at Charles Sturt University, wrote an article about the collaborative nature of school library professionals. 

With her article, Jennie curated a list of social networking sites for readers to add to their personal learning network. 'These include some personal favourites and represent a balance of different foci and curators: professional associations, corporate services, teacher librarians, and leaders in the information services field', Jennie explains.

Blogs & Websites

Bright ideas
Bright ideas is maintained by School Library Association of Victoria & State Library of Victoria. The page includes general coverage across multiple aspects of library services, technology and pedagogy. Members can contribute and comment.

Services to schools: create readers
Maintained by the National Library of New Zealand’s Services to Schools, this blog includes content across various aspects of library services, with a strong focus on literature and resource sharing. Members can contribute and comment.

AHS makerspace
AHS makerspace is a school library site maintained by Anne Weaver, with a focus on makerspaces and examples of library practices.

This blog is maintained by Jackie Child, a practitioner with a passion for makerspaces and hands-on learning.

Bib 2.0: Technology and the indispensable librarian
Bib 2.0 is maintained by teacher librarian Jeri Hurd. It has a strong focus on ICT in education, including information on applications, library programs, pedagogy, design and makerspaces.

Children’s books daily
Megan Daley shares her passion for literature with engaging book reviews, plus other matters.

The Book Chook
Susan Stephenson’s website The Book Chook shares a myriad of ideas on children’s literature and reading.

Linking Learning
Linking Learning is maintained by Kay Oddone, practitioner on library matters and PLNs. Very useful for ongoing discussion about PLNs, their value and their theoretical underpinnings.

Heyjude: Learning in an online world
Judy O’Connell shares information on technology, pedagogy and everything online.

The blue skunk blog
A US-based blog maintained by Doug Johnson, a presenter, author and long-serving leader in the field. Doug focuses on technology, pedagogy, and issues he believes the profession needs to face.


Australian Teacher Librarian Network
OZTL_NET’s Facebook page includes general coverage relating to libraries, technology, research, resources and reading.

What a difference a school library makes
Karen Bonanno shares cutting-edge content on all things library related.

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Online
ASLA on school libraries, education and literature.

Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS)
SCIS shares various posts relating to school libraries, information services, and SCIS services.

Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) www.facebook.com/acer.edu.au
An excellent source for recent educational research and for providing support to the leadership team.

Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA)
The CBCA shares the latest on children’s literature, including reviews. You can also check if your state or territory has a branch Facebook page to keep up with literary events.

Eduwebinar covers the latest developments in the education arena, including technology, pedagogy and leadership, as well as free and paid professional development.

The King’s School Senior Library www.facebook.com/TheKingsSchoolSeniorLibrary
The King’s School Senior Library’s Facebook page has a strong focus on literature and writing for young adults.

Curation sites

K–12 School libraries
Susan Grisby scoops content of interest to F–12 school librarians, including new technologies, social media, curation, research, educational apps, and more.

Bookmarking librarian
Sarah Betteridge scoops on 21st-century school libraries, Australian Curriculum, makerspaces and educational technology.

Karen Bonanno
Scoop topics include school library advocacy, web tools, inquiry learning, curriculum resources and educational makerspaces.

JB’s Learning links
Jennie Bales’s diigo social bookmarking site on educational matters, including curriculum, pedagogy, literature, literacy, research and technology.

This Diigo social bookmarking collection includes contributions from a group of teacher librarians.

Are there any blogs, websites, or social media accounts that you would add to this list? Please share them in the comments below. To view Jennie's article in Connections, please follow this link.

Highlights of Connections 99


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

It’s time: let’s improve schools’ perceptions of teacher librarians
Bev Novak recommends ways to encourage staff and students to make the most of teacher librarian skill sets.

Stopping the slide: improving reading rates in the middle school
After noticing a drop in borrowing rates as students entered the middle school, Narelle Keen gathered data and conducted student interviews to understand why. Narelle proposes recommendations to improve borrowing rates.

School libraries supporting literacy
Steph Ellis, librarian at Napier Boys’ High School, shares a range of library programs to promote a reading culture and increase literacy skills in schools.

An inquiry-based approach to exploring Australian history
Author Deborah Abela researched her family’s history and Maltese migrant history before writing her novel, Teresa: A New Australian. Deborah’s process can assist students undertaking historical inquiry.

School library spotlight: Melbourne High School
SCIS talks to Pam Saunders, Head of Library at Melbourne High School, about what’s happening in MHS’s library, including library programs and promotion.

The lowdown on authority files
Cataloguing librarian Doreen Sullivan explains how authority files containing name and subject authorities link relevant content within catalogues to optimise users’ search experiences.

SCIS is more
SCIS Manager Ben Chadwick introduces changes to the SCISWeb Licence Agreement, which will help to clearly identify the provenance of SCIS records.

Supporting Australian book creators
Morris Gleitzman discusses one of the simple pleasures of visiting school libraries: finding tattered, much-read copies of his own work. The ELR initiative makes it possible for authors such as Morris to continue producing books like these, while providing free access in libraries.

We welcome any feedback you may have about this issue, or any ideas you have for future Connections articles. Please email connections@esa.edu.au.

Happy reading!


Highlights of Connections 98

Here are the highlights from the latest issue of Connections, which is now available online.

The importance of school libraries in the Google Age

We continue to hear about the lack of trained library staff in schools, despite ongoing research indicating that the presence of teacher librarians lead to improved learning outcomes. Kay Oddone highlights the many benefits teacher librarians can bring to the wider school, and why their role is integral to the learning of both student and staff.

Celebrating Children’s Book Week with the CBCA

Jane O’Connell, an independent director at the Children’s Book Council of Australia, looks at how school library and teaching staff can get involved in Children’s Book Week, which will be running from 20–26 August in 2016.

Using social media to support school library services

Helen Stower and Margaret Donaghue, from Mt Alvernia College’s iCentre, write about their experiences using social media as a communication platform for their school’s library. They highlight the importance of libraries sharing their stories, and discuss the need to develop social media guidelines in order to minimise potential risks.

Student perspectives on ebook and audiobook usage

Tehani Wessely surveyed students in Marist College Canberra’s middle school to understand student perspectives on ebooks and audiobooks, while also monitoring usage statistics. Despite low results, Tehani believes that we are still in the early stages of ebook and audiobook adoption, and acceptance of the technologies will continue in time.

Libraries, languages and free resources

Jill Wilson shares an overview of the Language Learning Space, a free online platform providing access to challenges and resources for languages students, and professional learning tools for Chinese, Indonesian, and Japanese language teachers. Jill also mentions several personal learning networks (PLNs) that language teachers can join.

Why SCIS prefers to catalogue with item in hand

SCIS cataloguer Doreen Sullivan outlines why we have a preference to catalogue with items in hand, rather than cataloguing blindly. Doreen explains the challenges of determining subject headings from minimal information, and highlights the importance of metadata elements such pagination and publishers.

We’d love to hear any feedback you have about Connections – please send us an email at connections@esa.edu.au.

Happy reading!

A Preference For Genre

Traditionally, library fiction collections have been organised by author surnames, though many libraries are now ‘genrefying’ their collections, following a model reminiscent of bookstores. This may be through genre stickers on book spines, the physical arrangement of the collection, or both, and means that students are able to browse within their preferred genres.

We are pleased to announce that SCISWeb profile settings have been updated to include genre preferences, which will determine the placement of the genre headings in MARC records downloaded from the SCIS orders page.

Genre headings have historically been included in the ‘Topical Term’ field (MARC 650), grouped with other SCISSHL and ScOT terms. The new update provides the option to have genre headings classified separately, in the ‘Genre/Form’ field (MARC 655). This means your library management system will register these as specific genres, and will enable your catalogue users to search and browse via these headings.

How to update genre preferences

To modify your genre preferences, access your profile page via SCISWeb, and select the ‘Advanced options’ tab.

Here, you have the option to keep genre headings in the 650 field, or select the ‘Genre/Form’ heading 655.

Please note that changes made to your SCISWeb Profile will not affect SCIS records imported directly into your library management system via Z39.50. That means genre headings will remain in the 650 ‘Topical Term’ field in all records downloaded from within your LMS.

Want to read more about genre shelving?

The National Library of New Zealand’s Services to Schools have put together a great resource for school library staff interested in genrefying their fiction collection.

If you have any questions about this update, please send an email to scisinfo@esa.edu.au.

World Refugee Week

In May, the Oxford University Press announced the Children’s Word of the Year for 2016 was refugee.

The word was selected after analysis of entries from the BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS competition, which asked children aged 5-13 to submit a piece of fiction no more than 500 words in length. With over 123,000 entries, use of the word ‘refugee’ saw a 368% increase from last year’s entries.

World Refugee Week will take place from 19–25 June, with World Refugee Day on Monday 20 June. Following recent global events, it is important that students are aware of the refugee crisis. It is through learning about others that we generate awareness, empathy, and understanding. OUP have put together a great infographic, available on this page.

SCIS has catalogued a range of educational, interactive digital content aimed at sharing the experiences of refugees around the world.

The refugee project (SCIS no 1767814)
In every corner of the earth, ordinary people are forced to leave their homes, often without notice, often never to return. When they cross international borders, they are called refugees. The Refugee Project is a narrative, temporal map of refugee migrations since 1975. UN data is complemented by original histories of the major refugee crises of the last four decades, situated in their individual contexts.

Long journey, young lives: an online documentary (SCIS no 1343711)
The project features 40 ‘micro documentaries’ – each one a series of clips featuring either a refugee child discussing their experience or an Australian child sharing their thoughts on asylum seekers.

Against all odds (SCIS no 1767791)
This online interactive game is designed to teach users how people become refugees and what it is like to be a refugee. There are three games to play under the following headings: War and conflict — Border country — A new life. This site also includes further web facts about refugees, and information and links to additional resources for teachers.

Anatomy of a refugee camp (SCIS no 1767803)
Move the cursor around a plan of a refugee camp and discover what a refugee camp looks like and what all the buildings are used for.

Refugees and migration (SCIS no 1767807)
This unit of work, Seeking refuge — The journey, allows students to explore the human face of the journey undertaken by refugees and asylum seekers, and to create a digital story to reflect what they learn. Texts used include The Happiest Refugee: A memoir by Anh Do, Mahtab’s Story a novel by Libby Gleeson, the non-fiction text Children of War: Voices of Iraqi refugees by Deborah Ellis, and the graphic novel The Arrival by Shaun Tan. Includes teacher resources.

The boat (SCIS no 1764455)
This website links the award-winning interactive graphic novel, The boat, with classroom activities and background information. Based on the poignant story by Nam Le, this multimedia adaptation by Matt Huynh offers an insight into the Vietnamese refugee experience and is suitable for secondary students.

We’d love to hear about any resources you’re using throughout World Refugee Week – you can let us know about them via our cataloguing request form.

What’s happening in your school library?


We recently mailed out Connections 97 to schools in Australia. In this issue, we included an article by Chris Harte about St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School which has received great feedback. The article showcases the wonderful things librarians Jackie and Megan are doing in their makerspace, and provides tips for people eager to follow in their footsteps.

Following the interest in this article, we’re reaching out to all of you to see if you are doing exciting and innovative things in your library that you would be willing to share with our readers. This will be a great way to share what’s happening in Australian and New Zealand school libraries and inspire others.

If you have a story to share that may be of benefit to the wider school library community – whether it’s organising your library’s collections in an exciting way, doing innovative things to engage students with their learning, or doing interesting things to promote literacy, STEM subjects, or your library itself – we’d love to hear about it.

Please don’t hesitate to send us an email at connections@esa.edu.au if you’re interested in writing an article for Connections.

SCISSHL and ScOT: Why use both?

Have you ever wondered why some SCIS records contain two similar or identical subject headings? SCIS cataloguers use two controlled vocabularies: the SCIS Subject Heading List (SCISSHL) and the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT). You’ll notice that the codes ‘scisshl’ or ‘scot’ appear in parentheses after each heading, representing which vocabulary the heading came from. Subscribers who access records through SCISWeb have the option to have headings from both vocabularies in their downloaded records, or just their preferred one.

These two controlled vocabularies serve complementary functions. Simply put, ScOT terms are informed by curriculum language and structure, whereas the SCISSHL is informed by topics in the literature itself: its headings reflect the content of the SCIS database.

Seasons_SH_MARCviewThe benefit of using both is that if one person – likely, in this case, to be a teacher or school library professional – enters search terms inspired by the curriculum, and another person – such as a student – searches with no consideration of the curriculum, both will find relevant resources. Oftentimes there is an overlap between SCISSHL and ScOT terms that can describe resources (see image to the left); to maintain consistency, both terms are always used.


MyProfileAdvancedOptionsWhile our cataloguers include terms from both vocabularies, you have the option to select a preferred subject heading format.

Once you’ve logged into SCISWeb, you can select ‘My Profile’ from the navigation bar, select ‘Advanced options’, and then choose your preferred subject heading format (you can press the ‘Help me choose which format’ if further clarification is needed), and then press ‘SAVE’.


Please note that the instructions above only change your settings on SCISWeb, and will not affect the format of records imported directly into your library management system through Z39.50 (otherwise known as rapid cataloguing or z-cataloguing).

When using z39.50 to import records directly into your system, some library systems allow you to choose between SCISSHL or ScOT terms. Others extract the ScOT headings and put them in special fields, treating them as keywords rather than specialised subject headings. Still others import both sets of headings and do not give you a choice in the matter. If the source of the heading is not displayed (‘scisshl’ or ‘scot’) it may appear that you have duplicate headings in your record, whereas one heading is from ScOT and the other from SCISSHL.

If you would like to know more about the differences between the two, see ‘ScOT in SCIS – more of the same … or different?’ and ‘The relationship between SCIS Subject Headings and ScOT’.

SCIS cataloguing standards update: Dewey or don’t we?

There has been some discussion at SCIS about how schools treat picture books that rhyme. It has been SCIS practice to classify stories in rhyme picture books as poetry, with each book allocated a Dewey Decimal number. However, feedback in workshops and surveys indicate that this did not reflect the preferred classification in schools.

The Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) meets regularly to discuss and make revisions to the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry, and this issue was recently discussed during a teleconference with the committee. The decision was made on behalf of the ISSC to classify stories in rhyme picture books as fiction, intending to make browsing easier for students and staff in schools. This will also save you the time spent changing the classifications manually.

If you have any questions about this update, please contact scisinfo@esa.edu.au.

We are interested in learning more about how you manage resources so that our standards continue to reflect schools’ needs

We want to make sure our catalogue records continue to meet the needs of our subscribers. Can you spare ten minutes to complete this survey so we can understand how resources are being managed in school libraries?

All survey respondents will go in the draw to win a $250 book card.