To My School Library, With Love

There is a government primary school I know that has its fiction and non-fiction resources distributed throughout its classrooms. These resources used to be all together in one small room, but that room was recently put to other uses. As far as I know, there is no catalogue or database to organise these resources. Perhaps there is a spreadsheet printed out on a pin-board somewhere. I suppose that situation can work if children are happy to browse, or know who to ask about where to find the specific topic or item they’re looking for.

When I went to primary school in Queensland in the 1980s, the library was most definitely a distinct ‘place’. I remember very little about most of my classrooms, but I have vivid memories of the library.

The library at Kenmore State School was a brick building, separated from the junior classrooms by an undercover concrete pathway whose cracks, I recall, were infested with girl germs. If you went too far, you got to the dusty staff car park (out-of-bounds!), and then the swimming pool. Lunchtimes often saw me playing ‘tiggy’ and ‘brandy’. Less often I was on the oval trying to play sports that required two ‘C’s that weren’t my strong points – competitiveness and co-ordination. On many lunch breaks I found myself in the library.

The librarian was as constant to that school as the steel pipe gate and bitumen assembly area (complete with yellow dots indicating foot positions for ‘Attention’ and ‘At ease’). I think her name was Mrs Fielding. The bulk of the library consisted of low shelves at about head height, with non-fiction works laid out in Dewey. Behind Mrs Fielding and our borrowing cards was an area of perhaps four square metres, where the junior fiction was placed on low shelves and in browseable tubs. A few beanbags were thrown around on the plush and vibrant carpets.

On the other side of the library were the tall shelves which enclosed the big-kid’s books. To me, this space had a private and arcane feel. As a younger kid I heard the snickering of older boys in there, and wondered what schemes they were cooking up. I once ventured in and picked a big-kid chapter book at random. It was on the second shelving unit to the right, third shelf from the bottom (I am seeing it as I type), and it was called Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson. Flicking through the pictures, some combination of the book and the room gave me a distinct feeling, which I know today as being called ‘otherness’. There was something frightening, wonderful, and sacred about that book and that place in that moment. I still get a vestige of that feeling when I read it to my children.

I grew up to be one of those scheming boys. One of my favourite places to scheme with my gang (the ‘Super Sneaky Team’) was the library courtyard. The courtyard had a few timber-slat benches painted government-issue chocolate brown. Beside and amongst the brick paving there were a few shrubs and a paper-bark tree. There were broad-leaved vines growing over a high timber fence that was painted to compliment the benches. Our main – and perhaps, only – scheme was to wander past Mrs Fielding, and exit the sliding door into the courtyard where we would engage in some innocent banter to dispel suspicion. We’d do that for a prudent time, then slip off to the far corner, which was invisible from the Fielding vantage point, and scale the fence. After celebrating our super-sneakyness we’d wander off somewhere else. Perhaps the oval.

I wonder if the library still has that courtyard?

In about 1985, the library installed the first computer available for student use. It was something along the lines of the RadioShack TRS-80 MC-10. Mrs Fielding was very encouraging of me to use it, and I began to imagine she purchased it just for me. In a tiny corner near the back entrance to the senior fiction area, I learned to program in Basic, and to save my experiments on magnetic tape. I can easily imagine my life would be very different if Mrs Fielding hadn’t set me up with that machine in that little corner. I almost certainly wouldn’t be in this job, writing this article.

I regret to tell you that by the time of my final year at Kenmore State School the Super Sneaky Team had been disbanded for some years. We had creative differences about the role of sport at lunch-time, and I once fought Sandy in the mud for an hour in an attempt to resolve it. I’d landed in a new, geekier, crowd and we spent most lunch times playing role-playing games. In the library.

(My mum forbade me from playing those games – she said they were satanic, and they were the reason my friend Tom talked in his sleep when he came for sleepovers. But I was addicted, so I had to learn to be dishonest with her.)

I recall one day in particular. We’d pushed together two (brown) laminate trapezoid tables near the doors to the courtyard. I was waiting for my turn to create a character. I gazed over the heads of my friends to the high louvre windows on the far side of the library, where, despite the film of dust from the staff car park, I could see the sky, and the trees on the hill above the shopping centre. It was raining. I was aware of the cold and wet outside by virtue of comparison with the warmth and comfort inside the library. I was aware of hushed conversation, of kids moving calmly amongst the non-fiction shelves, of Mrs Fielding stamping somebody’s card. I’d forgotten my friends, and like my first venture into Moomin Valley, I was lost in my own tranquil place. That moment is my single strongest memory of my primary school library.

I’d like to go back there one day. I don’t know if the building is still being used as a library, or whether it is even still standing. If anybody knows I’d love to hear from you.

Ben Chadwick
Manager, SCIS

Book review sites ANZ

SCIS has catalogued these book review websites recommended by colleagues in Australia and New Zealand. They are a great selection tool for library staff.  The SCIS number for each site is listed, which you can paste into the SCIS Orders page. Otherwise, simply click here to download records for a selection of these sites.

Just So Stories by Sue Warren (SCIS No. 1664473)

Random Reviews and Ramblings from Redcliffe
Random Reviews and Ramblings from Redcliffe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom shelf  by Barbara Braxton (SCIS No. 1641811)

The bottom shelf of the bookcase is the one that the little people in my life always go to. There they find the books they love to read and share - the familiars and the favourites, and often some first-reads that have been added since their last visit.
The bottom shelf of the bookcase is the one that the little people in my life always go to. There they find the books they love to read and share – the familiars and the favourites, and often some first-reads that have been added since their last visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Children’s Daily by Megan Daley (SCIS No. 1702039)

Did you know that the single most important person in your child’s reading development is YOU?  A LOVE of reading, that most important factor in becoming a lifelong reader, begins at home with powerful children’s books and a house full of words.
Did you know that the single most important person in your child’s reading development is YOU?
A LOVE of reading, that most important factor in becoming a lifelong reader, begins at home with powerful children’s books and a house full of words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book chook by Susan Stephenson (SCIS No. 1664473)

Book reviews, resources, tips for parents and teachers from an Australian writer who is passionate about children literacy, learning and literature

Book reviews, resources, tips for parents and teachers from an Australian writer who is passionate about children literacy, learning and literature

 

 

 

Senga White from New Zealand recommends the following sites from New Zealand

Bobs Books Blog by Bob Docherty (SCIS No. 1702486)

I offer my knowledge and passion for Children’s Literature to promote reading and literacy in your school using your own library resources plus new books sent to me by authors and publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beattie’s Book Blog by Graham Beattie (SCIS No. 1702490)

Beatties Book Blog
Judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn’t, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reading doctor    by Kate de Goldi (SCIS No. 1702492)

Author Kate de Goldi has a regular Reading Doctor segment in Bootnotes, the online magazine from Book Council of NZ
Author Kate de Goldi has a regular Reading Doctor segment in Bootnotes, the online magazine from Book Council of NZ

 

Australia Day

Australia Day, January 26, is considered to be a commemoration of nationhood by many Australians. For other Australians, however, it marks a deep loss – of sovereignty, family and culture. Here are some titles from the SCIS catalogue which look at the clash between European settlers and the Aboriginal peoples:

1788 to 1809 : from First Fleet to Rum Rebellion by Victoria MacLeay ; [edited by Lynn Brodie].(SCIS No. 1552979).  The first 22 years of the colonisation of Australia began with the arrival of the First Fleet and ended with the aftermath of the only military insurrection Australia has ever experienced. This book covers the major events: the arrival at Botany Bay, the settlement at Sydney Cove, the battle to survive, heroic explorations, and tensions between the new arrivals and indigenous peoples. ISBN 9780864271136

A commonwealth of thieves: the improbable birth of Australia by Thomas Keneally. (SCIS No. 1627531)
The history of the first four years of the convict settlement of Australia. Using personal journals and documents, Keneally re-creates the overseas voyage and the challenges Governor Arthur Phillips faced upon arrival: unruly convicts, disgruntled officers, bewildered and hostile natives, food shortages and disease. He also offers portrayals of Aborigines and convict settler. ISBN 9781400079568

That deadman dance by Kim Scott.(SCIS No. 1595239)
Told through the eyes of black and white, this is a story about a fledgling Western Australian community in the early 1800s, known as the “friendly frontier”. It shows that the first contact did not have to lead to war. ISBN 9781408829288

Rethinking settler colonialism : history and memory in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and South Africa  edited by Annie E. Coombes (SCIS No. 1638689)
Focuses on the long history of contact between indigenous peoples and the white colonial communities who settled in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. Looks at how histories of colonial settlement have been mythologised, narrated, and embodied in these countries in the twentieth century. ISBN 9780719071690

A failure to understand: early colonialism and the indigenous peoples by Margaret McPhee. (SCIS No. 1659262).  A look at the monumental clash between European colonalism and the Aboriginal peoples; from the first tentative and difficult interactions of the early explorers to the arrival of the First Fleet. ISBN 9781742455136

The Australian frontier wars 1788-1838 by John Connor  (SCIS No 1112716).  From the Swan River to the Hawkesbury, and from the sticky Arnhem Land mangrove to the soft green hills of Tasmania, this book describes the major conflicts fought on the Australian frontier to 1838.  ISBN 0868407569

The other side of the frontier: Aboriginal resistance to the European invasion of Australia by Henry Reynolds (SCIS No. 1311253). The publication of this book in 1981 profoundly changed the way in which we understand the history of relations between indigenous Australians and European settlers. ISBN 0868408921

Forgotten war by Henry Reynolds (SCIS No. 1623535).  Australia is dotted with memorials to soldiers who fought in wars overseas, but there are no official commemorations of the battles fought on Australian soil between Aborigines and white colonists. ISBN 9781742233925

The Black War : fear, sex and resistance in Tasmania by Nicholas Clements (SCIS No. 1659002)
Between 1825 and 1831 close to 200 Britons and 1000 Aborigines died violently in Tasmania’s Black War. It was by far the most intense frontier conflict in Australia’s history, yet many Australians know little about it. ISBN 9780702250064

All images and summaries provided by SCIS Syndetics

The Australian frontier wars
The Australian frontier wars
That deadman dance
That deadman dance
Commonwealth of thieves
Commonwealth of thieves
The other side of the frontier
The other side of the frontier

Genre Headings

It is SCIS policy to assign genre headings to works of fiction, including fictional films, television programs, etc. In some cases more than one genre heading may be assigned, as well as subject headings from a theme. Obviously not all SCIS records will contain a genre heading.

The ‘Guidelines to Using SCIS Subject Headings’ contains a comprehensive list of all the fiction genre headings used by SCIS  (see section 5.7).

To see which records in your library contain any of the above headings, you can do a subject search within your library system. Similarly, if you want to see which records on the SCIS database have been given genre headings, you can login to SCIS OPAC:

Go to Advanced options http://opac.scis.curriculum.edu.au/vwebv/searchAdvanced.

  1. In the ‘Search’ box type in the genre heading, for example ‘school stories.’
  2. Select ‘as a phrase’ from the drop down menu.
  3. Select ‘subject’ from the second drop down menu.
  4. Once you retrieve your results, you can then select ‘Publication (most recent first)’ from the ‘Sort by’ drop down menu.

Taking the guesswork out of genre by Brendan Eichholzer, from the latest issue of Connections, explores the issues of shelving by genre. He argues that ‘Knowing where each book lives is a key component of the job description.’

If you are thinking of genre-fying the library there are some excellent posts from colleagues outlining the processes they have gone through – here are two of them:

Genre-fying the Library! (3)

Genre Shelving In Progress.

genre

 

The 21st century library

In the 21st century school libraries need to consider their spaces, the role of the teacher librarian, and the move to digital content and access in the age of BYOD (Bring your own device). In Australian schools, demonstration of the value of the school library to principals and school councils is essential as they look at resourcing the Australian Curriculum.

‘What do teacher librarians teach’ by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones  is an excellent infographic to highlight the  multifaceted role of teacher librarians. Evaluating resources is an important focus for teacher librarians, as is digital citizenship, and educating students about  plagiarism.  Increasingly, teacher librarians are working with classroom teachers to develop their students’ capacity to identify and ask good questions, and to improve study and research skills.

Modern school library design may look more to the contemporary approach of buildings such as Trinity Grammar’s Tudor Centre, which brings together library, curriculum, and technology staff.

In the age of BYOD students are not necessarily accessing the same information at the same time. For students and staff 24/7 access to resources is important, as is providing resources in a variety of formats: print, e-book, DVD, audiobook and digital video library. Identification of suitable apps for teacher resources and for use by students is  featuring increasingly.  While we may be seeing a drop in the use of our non-fiction print collections this may not be a matter of student preference.  Content and relevancy are important regardless of format.

In most schools the school library catalogue is the only place where users can search for school-owned/licensed resources all in one place. School library catalogues provide access to learning resources for the school community.  While students and teachers can use a search engine to find millions of online resources, this search will return everything online EXCEPT the very resources that the school or system has actually selected and paid for.

The student or staff member seeking books, information, and learning resources expects to do one search and for that search to return all the relevant material available to them, regardless of its format or its location.  Single point of search assumes an integrated set of search results, which requires integrated metadata.

21st century, next generation library systems will need to include digital rights management, a seamless secure single sign-on, and federated searching across a variety of resources, databases and collections.  Next generation systems will need the ability to connect with  a variety of devices and, increasingly, to provide a personalised service similar to the Amazon or Google experience.

This is why making digital content discoverable through school library catalogues is essential.
For a long time a priority for library staff has been to organise the physical library space in ways that are attractive and encourage users to visit and explore, as well as making it easy for them to find what they need, and assist browsing for inspiration. We work to make location and lending of resources as seamless and self-servicing as possible. We now have additional responsibilities. As well as serving our users who are visitors, browsers and borrowers of physical items in a physical library space, we now need to serve our library users accessing and downloading resources in virtual spaces.

Bus wrapped with SAP Big Data by IntelFreePress http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Bus wrapped with SAP Big Data by IntelFreePress http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

Enhanced content in SCIS catalogue

The SCIS Catalogue is a valuable starting point for school staff looking to identify books, digital resources and websites to support the curriculum, and subscribers are encouraged to use it as a selection aid for locating resources that are required for a particular purpose in a school. While providing catalogue records is core business, SCIS recognises the value of enhancing the catalogue record where possible with any information that may help school staff discover and review resources of interest.

In July 2011 SCIS added enhanced content services from Syndetics Solutions and LibraryThing for Libraries to the SCIS Catalogue, via a subscription with Thorpe-Bowker. The bibliographic records in SCIS OPAC are enhanced to display additional detail about resources, including plot summaries, author notes, awards and reviews. This content is delivered to SCIS by linked data based on ISBN.

Consider the subject headings and notes if using SCIS Catalogue as a selection tool
Figure 1: If using SCIS Catalogue as a selection tool, consider using the Subject Headings and notes

The SCIS Catalogue bibliographic record display provides a link to Google Books. The Google books link/s (if any) will appear at the bottom of the display.
There are three possible links:

  • Entire book is viewable
  • A portion of the book is viewable
  • “About This Book” information is available.

These links will enrich search results with lists of relevant books, journal articles, web page citations and links to related works and full text when available.

Google Books link in SCIS Catalogue record
Figure 2: Google Books link in SCIS Catalogue record

 

Social bookmarks links in SCIS Catalogue
Individual records from SCIS Catalogue can be saved directly to selected social media services as bookmarks. The persistent website address (URL) for these records will be in the format http://opac.scis.curriculum.edu.au/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=1411770 where the bibID is the SCIS number for that record.
Note that you will need a subscription to the social bookmarking service you wish to use, and anyone accessing these SCIS records from your bookmarking service will need to be a SCIS subscriber.
The social bookmarking services currently supported include delicious.com, diigo.com, facebook.com, google.com and StumbleUpon.com.

Social bookmarks links in SCIS Catalogue full record screen
Figure 3. Social bookmarks links in SCIS Catalogue full record screen

 

Images linked to Google Books are not available for download from SCIS. The book cover image from Thorpe Bowker located within the catalogue data (if available) can be downloaded into your library management system from our orders page or via your system’s z39.50 connection. Subscriber schools may also display the images on the school website including blogs, wikis, online newsletters and the school intranet.

Syndetics content in SCIS Catalogue
Through the subscription service Syndetics, SCIS offers additional descriptive and evaluative information where available including:

  • summaries and annotations
  • fiction and biography profiles
  • summaries and annotations
  • fiction and biography profiles
  • author notes
  • awards
  • books in a series

Syndetics reviews
Syndetics delivers edited reviews from authoritative reviewing sources including:

  • Bookseller & Publisher reviews
  • New York Times reviews
  • School Library Journal reviews
  • Publishers Weekly reviews
  • The Horn Book reviews
  • Kirkus reviews

Indigenous Literacy Day

Lottie gets caught reading Anita Heiss
Lottie gets caught reading Anita Heiss

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation was set up in 2005 by Suzy Wilson, with the aim of lifting literacy rates and opportunities for young indigenous children living in remote communities. The fund is supported by the Australian Book Industry and is a not for profit charity. You can find out more about the organization here.

Its main fundraising activity is Indigenous Literacy Day, which took place on 3 September this year. Many schools and libraries  hosted book swap sessions with book publishers and book sellers donating a percentage of sales to the fund.

Individuals who still wish to donate can Get caught reading

 

 

Here is a snapshot of what the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has achieved in 2014

120000 books supplied
120000 books supplied

The Indigenous Literacy Fund website is also a powerful resource, SCIS subscribers can download the catalogue record (SCIS No. 1534140)

What did your school do for International Literacy Day?

Connections 90

The latest issue of the SCIS journal, Connections, has been sent to all schools, and is available online.
Highlights of Connections 90 include:-

Taking Note of Nonfiction
Peter Macinnis, who presented the ‘Clayton’s list’ for the Eve Pownall award for information books, shares his insights into what makes a good information book.

Boori Monty Pryor with Dr Anita Heiss at BlackWords Symposium 2012.
Boori Monty Pryor with Dr Anita Heiss at BlackWords Symposium 2012.  courtesy of Blackwords

Learning Online: MOOCs for library staff
Martin Gray, a teacher librarian from Singleton High School, looks at how he used MOOCs to further his professional learning with two very different online courses.

BlackWords: Celebrating writers and storytellers
Writer and activist, Dr. Anita Heiss looks at BlackWords and AustLit, which are freely available for schools, and how they can assist in embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures into the curriculum.

Following IndigenousX
SCIS’s Michael Jongen looks at the IndigenousX curated Twitter account and how it can help educators to hear a diverse range of authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.

Bring the Teachers In: Enticing teachers into the library
Library Manager at Wellington College, New Zealand, Brett Moodie, wanted to boost the profile of the library within the school and support the learning and information needs of staff.

 

SCIS Asks 2013: The view from the school library

Di Ruffles from Melbourne Grammar School was invited to set the scene for the SCIS Asks 2013 consultation forum and provide her wishlist for school library services.

Di Ruffles
Di Ruffles, Melbourne Grammar

Di stated her top five issues in school libraries as:

  1. Staffing
    Demonstration of the value of the school library to principals and school councils is essential
  2. Budgets
    Plateauing of budget figures is a trend being noticed across many schools
  3. Resourcing the Australian Curriculum
    Phase 1 learning areas (English, Maths, History and Science) is a priority. Then resourcing of new learning areas.
  4. Australian Curriculum General Capabilities
    Development of programs and resources to support these and,
  5. Australian Curriculum Cross curriculum priority areas

At her school Di noted, iPads are being used through the school with Year 12 providing their own choice of device. Students are not necessarily accessing the same information at the same time. E-Books are causing issues importing into the various devices in a  BYOT school environment.

Identification of suitable apps for teacher resources and for use by students is  featuring increasingly. Particularly useful apps include  an app for the library catalogue as well as the EasyBib app  which means students can scan  a book’s ISBN for a  citation.

For students and staff 24/7 access to resources is important, as is providing resources in a variety of formats: print, e-book, DVD, audiobooks and digital video library (eg. Clickview).   Journals and databases of e-journals are used extensively. Di is seeing less use of the print non–fiction collection. Non-fiction eBooks are used but not necessarily a preferred option for all students. Students are not so fussed with format but the item must be relevant.

Di looked at the changing role of the teacher librarian and used ‘What do teacher librarians teach’ by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones  to highlight the  multifaceted role of teacher librarians. Evaluating resources is an important focus for teacher librarians, as is digital citizenship and educating students about  plagiarism. The library’s website includes research guides (which suggests catalogue subject headings) and  a Harvard style referencing tool.

Di highlighted how teacher librarians at her school are working with classroom teachers, for example in a new subject for 2014, Extended Investigation (inspired by International Baccalaureate) which aims to develop student’s capacity to identify and ask good questions, research an area of interest in depth and prepare for university level study.

SCIS Asks 2013: The future of discovery systems

This SCIS Asks 2013 presentation by Alan Manifold, Digital and Library Applications Manager at the State Library of Victoria sets the future of library discovery architecture in the context of the evolution of library systems and search. Alan outlined the purpose of metadata as being to:

Alan Manifold and Ben Chadwick
Ben Chadwick and Alan Manifold
SCIS, CC-by-nc
  • Authorize
  • Limit
  • Evaluate
  • Categorize
  • Link

He postulated that the format of the item no longer matters, it is about providing connections between resource and curriculum and resources inside and outside the library.  The catalogue which was once designed for inventory control has morphed into a search engine.

Alan posed questions about the evolution in libraries and catalogues in the age of electronic resources, searchable full text and mega-aggregate sites.  He touched upon discovery products such as EBSCO, WorldCat Local and the State Library of Victoria’s Primo Central. A useful observation was that while school students need authoritative information as soon as possible, they tend not to require a specific title or edition of a work.

His advice was that SCIS needs to provide connections between resources and curriculum and external indexes and search platforms.  He recommends SCIS

  • continue to provide quality metadata
  • increase the connecting of resources with curriculum
  • work on linking controlled vocabularies
  • highlight diversity of resources and formats and
  • explore ways to rate materials

Education Services records its thanks to Alan for his clear thinking and recommendations.