In conversation with ASLA’s Teacher Librarian of the Year

For Library Lovers’ Day, we celebrate the work of Jane Viner, who was awarded Teacher Librarian of the Year in 2017. SCIS recently spoke to Jane about what makes her library unique and what she finds most rewarding about her role and working in school libraries.

‘I loved this book, Mrs Viner. Now I know why I like reading. Are there any more like it?’

Like music to the ears of any school library professional, these words play a particularly upbeat tune for Jane Viner.

Jane, who was awarded Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year last year, is the Head of Library at Kilvington Grammar School in the Melbourne suburb of Ormond. She originally joined the school library profession excited by the opportunity to make a difference within a whole school, rather than just one classroom or year level. Over 30 years later, Jane still finds joy in the core offering of the school library; that is literacy, and the transformation of children into lifelong readers. In particular, she loves ‘seeing a student’s eyes light up when you find them, show them, and order them the book of their dreams’.

Opportunities abound for making a difference in children’s lives at Kilvington Grammar School, where Jane is fortunate to work with students from the Early Learning Centre to Year 12.

Jane and her team have worked hard to create a culture that promotes reading. One area that supports this and makes their library unique is their Lounge Room. This video shows just how much the students value the work that the library staff have invested in creating a safe, welcoming, engaging environment that encourages student input and takes into consideration different interests across year levels.

‘When I first came to Kilvington a few years ago, I remember that the library was a quiet zone for people to come and study. There were posters everywhere that said ‘shhh, no talking’ … It’s changed into more of a lounge room area, where people can come in at lunchtimes, at recess, and after school to read books, do some study, mingle with people and play games’, a student shares in the video.

Another aspect that makes their library feel special for Jane is Kilvington Reads. Held in May each year, this five-day festival, organised by Jane and her team, has the whole school community celebrate their love of reading. Kilvington Reads includes author and illustrator workshops, competitions, dress-ups, and student-run literary quizzes for the school staff.

Jane knows that developing a passion for reading is just one aspect of the library’s role in the wider school community; building their information and digital literacy skills is also key. The same enthusiasm that comes from finding the right book can be found in ‘introducing students to quality digital resources and seeing their eyes light up at the possibilities’. Translating articles into a student’s first language, or one that they’re studying, is yet another way to connect students with texts — and a new way to find that gleam in their eyes.

Jane says that a good teacher librarian brings enthusiasm, energy and excellence to their work, which is made possible by the support of an effective, supportive school library team. For Jane, such a team is composed of ‘committed, passionate, flexible, friendly professional staff, who have a good sense of humour and a willingness to tackle any task’.

Despite the immense contribution that teacher librarians make to the school community, there remains a perception that their role is still undervalued, with more schools opting to fill the role with volunteers or staff already committed to a full-time teaching schedule. However, Jane — and a whole cohort of trained teacher librarians across the world — find hope in their situations. Jane recommends teacher librarians advocate for their role and seek opportunities to demonstrate their value within the school.

‘Collaborate and create opportunities for teachers and students,’ Jane says. That might be as simple as finding an opening with one student, one class or one teacher, and jumping at it. ‘Don’t make the mistake of saying you are too busy; no one is busier than a primary teacher on a full teaching load.’ Indeed, understanding the pressures placed on teachers provides yet another occasion for librarians to demonstrate their worth. Collaboration with teachers can ‘take the hack work out of their tasks’.

Teacher librarians can be faced with similar challenges to teachers: too many opportunities and not enough time. ‘We need to be thinking about impact and effort,’ Jane explains. For example, creating a thirty-minute library display can be just as effective as an extensive artistic display created over several hours. The key, she says, is to continue to ask, ‘Is this impact going to be high?’ — and to reduce the work that doesn’t support that.

In the always evolving landscape of school libraries, it is clear that Jane values their focus on literacy the most. Hearing how students have responded to the school’s development of a strong reading culture is a simple reminder of why Jane currently holds the title of Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year.

Professional learning webinars: Term 1, 2018

In 2017, we launched SCIS Data — a modern, intuitive and user-friendly platform that makes resource management in schools even simpler. To help ease your way into the new website, we have recorded a series of instructional videos, available to view on our Vimeo page. You can also visit our comprehensive help centre, packed with help articles based on your FAQs.

We will also be hosting a series of webinars in January and February to help you make the most of SCIS Data. Webinars are open to all school library staff and are a great way to discover how SCIS can support your library’s cataloguing and collection management, with the opportunity to chat with fellow library staff. Sessions are approximately 45–60 minutes, and we are happy to answer questions throughout.

We’ll be hosting our first holiday special on 24 January for library staff unable to attend during the school term — and for anyone wanting to participate in SCIS training from the comfort of their own home.

Downloading SCIS records
24 January & 12 February 2018
This webinar looks at how to download catalogue records for print and digital content. An explanation about how SCIS records improve the search and discovery experience will also be provided.

Search & selection on the SCIS catalogue
20 February 2018
This webinar provides techniques for searching on the SCIS catalogue, and using SCIS for print and digital content curation in order to source educational resources.

All registered participants will receive a recorded version of the webinar. For pricing, session times and registration, please visit our Professional learning page.

Please email us at for enquiries.

The full history of Connections is now online

2017 has been an exciting year for SCIS.

Our new website SCIS Data was launched in August, complete with a fresh rebrand and exciting new features to support school libraries. We also celebrated the 100th issue of our quarterly magazine, Connections, and to commemorate the milestone, announced that we would digitise and make available the full history of Connections.

We are proud to announce that — for the first time in our history — the entire collection is now available to view and download online.

Continue reading The full history of Connections is now online

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.

Continue reading Highlights of Connections 103

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.

Continue reading Highlights of Connections 102

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

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

Happy reading!

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.

Continue reading Highlights of Connections 99

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.

Continue reading Highlights of Connections 98

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.

Continue reading World Refugee Week