Community working together

Reflecting on Lyndall Ley’s call to do more for Indigenous communities across Australia, Paula Morrison reports on the achievements of her community in helping to rejuvenate the language of the local Gumbaynggirr people.

In 1986, five Gumbaynggirr elders who had been relocated off country, joined forces to begin the task of language revival for their children and grandchildren. In 2019, the International Year of Indigenous Languages this group, which has developed into the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language & Culture Co-operative, has much to celebrate.

Portrait of Gary Williams
Gary Williams, CEO of Muurrbay (younger man in photo is also portrait of Gary)

Recordings of fluent language speakers had been made in the 1960s and 70s. Along with manuscripts of anthropology student, Gerhardt Laves, who collected phonetic transcriptions in the late 1920s and early 1930s, much material required painstaking analysis by the group, in consultation with community, and the expertise of linguists. Gradually, from these early word lists and little bits of recorded language, structures began to emerge, pronunciations refined, and dictionaries and grammars could be produced. Borrowing from traditional forms, words have had to be created to address new concepts.  Now my school library greets students at the door with a sign: Darruyay yilaaming Janda-bibaa Baamgala which, literally translated, welcomes them to the ‘paper gather room’. Gary Williams, CEO of Muurrbay, says that although traditional stories had been told to him since his childhood, English language could only contain ’the bones’ of the story. In their original Gumbaynggirr language, details appeared that had previously been lost. For example, the word for ‘dawn’, bambuuda, literally means ‘in the soft’ part of the day, which adds to the atmosphere of the rising sun.

In 1997 Muurrbay became a Registered Training Organisation, focused on learning, research, and teaching. Adult classes commenced, and Gumbaynggirr also began to be taught in two Bowraville schools: St Mary’s Primary, and Bowraville Central. Over time, adults who studied through Muurrbay took the language program into more schools.  This year over 28 schools, both government and private, offer Gumbaynggirr language classes to all students, and hundreds of adults have completed language courses. Several students have studied Gumbaynggirr for their Higher School Certificate. Gumbaynggirr is now being spoken as part of daily life, and is routinely used for texting. As the language use has grown, so has a sense of belonging and identity within the community. School language teachers report that students take the language home to teach their families.

Now my school library greets students at the door with a sign: Darruyay yilaaming Janda-bibaa Baamgala which, literally translated, welcomes them to the ‘paper gather room’.

Muurrbay has been so successful in revitalizing language that in 2004 their role expanded to become a Regional Language Centre. Their experience has enabled them to lead other language groups through the ‘Many Rivers’ Project, which offers strategic, project planning, linguistic, and IT support, as well as teaching expertise to six other language groups along the New South Wales coast who are engaged in their own language revitalisation projects. To date, Muurrbay has published over 20 titles to support teaching and language, and is currently working on a joint project with Sydney University for students to access Muurrbay’s language programs in an online setting.

Awareness of the revitalisation has spread throughout the wider community. Gary Williams presents a regular language segment on local ABC radio, and is often approached by locals who’ve learned a word or two. A Business Advisory Committee approached the Nambucca Council with the recommendation that all road signage be dual language, and this proposal was unanimously passed as policy in March, 2019. All new road signs, and those being replaced will now be in English and Gumbaynggirr. Library spaces are utilised for community language classes and story time sessions with elders.

At Nambucca Heads High School, a ‘Junior Lands Council’ was formed in 2011. Students, both indigenous and non, began with projects such as creating metal letterboxes and park benches, and then restored a vacant area of land into a park with a level playing field, orchard, children’s playground, and gazebo. The park was recently dedicated to the memory of a student with a sculpture garden designed and created by students, whose enterprise was rewarded with funding from other agencies as a joint project.

As the revitalisation of the Gumbaynggirr language continues, opportunities for employment increase, and further entrepreneurial ideas emerge as possibilities. Gary Williams reports a profound effect upon the community, with an increased sense of pride and personal identity.

Paula Morrison
Teacher-Librarian
Nambucca Heads High School

This article was originally published in Volume 40, Issue 5/6 of INCITE, which can be found at https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/documents/INCITE%20May-June%202019.pdf. INCITE is the Member magazine of the Australian Library and Information Association.

Case study: Ruth Maloney, Tonbridge Grammar School, UK

‘I wouldn’t have such a high functioning system if I didn’t have SCIS, because it’s like having an assistant librarian whose job is just to catalogue, and who does that job really well. It’s an essential part of the library catalogue for me.’

School: Tonbridge Grammar School
Type: International Baccalaureate school for girls (11–18) and boys (16–18)
Enrolment: 1,200
Cataloguing subscription: SCIS Data + SCIS Authority Files
Library management system: Accessit
Size of collection: 8,000

Tonbridge Grammar School is a high-achieving International Baccalaureate school in Kent, United Kingdom. The school librarian, Ruth Maloney, works part-time in the library, and is responsible for everything from purchasing and accessioning books, to creating library displays and teaching information literacy. Ruth is grateful that her role at Tonbridge Grammar School is varied. ‘It’s different every day’, she says, ‘and I can make a difference every day’.

With Tonbridge Grammar School’s focus on enhancing students’ information literacy and research skills, the library is well positioned to develop its students into efficient researchers and information-literate individuals. This focus is supported by their subscription to SCIS Data through the provision of high-quality, consistent and reliable catalogue records.

As the only librarian in a large school, Ruth relies on SCIS Data to ensure speedy, reliable and consistent catalogue records.

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SCIS Data case study: Chris Archbold, Riccarton Primary School, NZ

‘SCIS makes a consistent catalogue. If all the primary schools around New Zealand are using SCIS, they are all getting the same information. This means that students can move from school to school and know that they are still going to get good, consistent search results.’

School: Riccarton Primary School
Type: Government school for years 1–8
Enrolment: 284
Cataloguing subscription: SCIS Data
Library management system: MUSAC
Size of collection: 4,200

Chris Archbold opens her library each morning at 8.30 am to an enthusiastic crowd of library-goers, and she relishes in the buzz created by students. Chris is the library manager at Riccarton Primary School in Christchurch, in New Zealand’s South Island.

This buzz is the telltale sign of a school community enthusiastic about their library. ‘We are buzzing here in the morning and again at lunch times,’ Chris says. ‘Some kids are having chat sessions, some kids are borrowing books, and some kids are reading books. To be able to sit at the OPAC and find what they are looking for is really important, so to have the best possible search options is fantastic.’

Chris has been using SCIS for her library cataloguing for more than 10 years, which helps her save time and make library resources discoverable to Riccarton Primary School’s enthusiastic staff and students. Students are able to access the catalogue containing more than 4,000 titles from the library and all classrooms within the school. With the help of SCIS Data, students can easily search for relevant titles before locating them in the library.

Continue reading SCIS Data case study: Chris Archbold, Riccarton Primary School, NZ

Students’ brilliant ideas: how the Nagle College Library website started

 

Ernesto Gutierrez Jr, College Library Coordinator at Nagle College in NSW, recently worked with his students to develop a library website. Its content is created for and by the students, and ranges from well-considered reviews to student-produced videos. Ernesto shares how the website came to fruition.

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SCIS Data case study: Caroline Roche, Eltham College, UK


‘Yesterday, a student asked for a book on Emmanuel Macron. It will be delivered today, and I will be able to catalogue it within five minutes because SCIS is quick. I’ll have it in her hands this afternoon.’

School: Eltham College
Type: Independent school for boys (aged 7–18) and girls (aged 16–18)
Enrolment: 850
Cataloguing subscription: SCIS Data + Authority Files
Library management system: Accessit
Size of collection: 11,780 in junior library; 22,665 in senior library

Eltham College, a high-performing independent school in South East London, focuses on the core business of school libraries: providing access. Librarian Caroline Roche works in the senior school library, supported by a library assistant and a school community enthusiastic about the library’s role. Spread over three floors, Eltham College’s senior library provides space for students to study, read and gather during break times. In a library that prides itself on immediate access, SCIS Data contributes to their fast-turnaround workflow.

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Taking reading for pleasure beyond the library

In this blog, Lucy Chambers shares with us some of the successful reading promotions that she has held in her schools. Lucy presented them as part of her workshop on school librarians sharing good practice, held at the CILIP School Libraries Group Conference in April.

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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?’

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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.

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How the school library saved my life

Megan McDonald
Children’s book author

I grew up reading—at the school library, on the bookmobile, at the comic book store, at home next to the heater under the piano. As a girl, I found pieces of myself in the characters of Ramona, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls, Jo March, Harriet the Spy, Jane Eyre.

Continue reading How the school library saved my life