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

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
Bus wrapped with SAP Big Data by IntelFreePress

Collections for connected learning

The Australian School Library Association national conference took place in the Term 3, 2013 school holidays in Hobart.

SCIS Manager, Pru Mitchell facilitated a workshop on the future of library collections, asking:

  • Is a collection of resources fundamental to the school library’s role?
  • What priority should be given to balanced, professionally selected and managed collections in emerging learning environments?

The workshop considered the assumptions behind these questions, reviewed the changes taking place in school library collections, and discussed associated resource and information management challenges.

Collections pre-survey

What issues are schools facing in resourcing the curriculum?

During 2013 SCIS has been conducting informal surveying of school library staff who attend workshops, asking them the free text question:
What are your current collection issues?

This survey closed at the end of Term 3 with a total of 85 respondents. The results were then coded, revealing what the researcher saw as 16 distinct issues.
While the frequency of each category being mentioned in a response is shown in the table below, the goal of the pre-survey was to collect a range of responses from which to prepare a more in-depth survey. The fact that respondents were attending a cataloguing professional learning activity at the time of completing this survey question, may well explain the high occurrence of ‘cataloguing’ as an issue.

What are your current collection issues survey responses
Collection issues survey responses. Sep 2013



  • cataloguing 14%
    catalogue records for resources are unavailable or unsatisfactory
  • e-resources 13%
    e-resources are not available,  or not managed or used appropriately
  • time 9%
    time to manage resources is limited and/or wasted
  • library system 7%
    system does not meet school’s needs
  • promotion 7%
    resources are not promoted to staff and students
  • budget 6%
    budget for resources is inadequate
  • staff 6%
    staff responsible for managing resources are not doing this effectively or do not exist
  • technology 6%
    technology required to use curriculum resources is not available and/or inadequate
  • search 5%
    finding what resources the school has, and where they are located, is difficult
  • weeding 5%
    weeding of resources does not occur regularly
  • access 4%
    access to resources is inadequate
  • age of collection 4%
    outdated resources are retained
  • balance 4%
    balance between print and digital resources is lacking
  • collection use 4%
    staff and students do not use school resources
  • OPAC use 3%
    staff and students do not use OPAC to find resources
  • professional learning 3%
    professional learning in resourcing the curriculum required

 What’s next?

You can contribute to the next stage of this research by responding to the survey at: