Supporting new and experienced librarians

Saving time for librarians

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that using time efficiently and having well-organised resources underpin a school librarian’s ability to support their community.

Resourcing can present a particular challenge to primary school librarians when managing their libraries. Robyn Byrne from Traralgon Primary School (Stockdale Road) explains how SCIS helps her overcome these challenges.

‘Unfortunately, many primary school libraries are now managed by a sole education support staff member, with no formal training and in a part-time capacity. My school is no exception, so I have benefited greatly from having a SCIS subscription.’

With standing orders, books received through a rewards program and purchases from local stores and booksellers, the school acquires a substantial number of new books.

‘Cataloguing of the books – with the limited hours the library is staffed and with my hit and miss knowledge of cataloguing – is only possible due to SCIS. It works with our library system, and I would say 99.5% of my requests are matched, ensuring those books are out on the shelves in a timely manner and catalogued in a consistent way,’ says Byrne.

Collection development and professional learning

Joumana Soufan from Lalor North Primary School moved to a position in her school library last year and recently started to explore SCIS. She’s found it helpful for cataloguing but has also enjoyed the collection development tools that SCIS provides.

‘I have been enjoying looking for new apps that maybe useful to use for the library. I recently discovered that the Canva app is free to all school staff, which is a big bonus! I have been busy creating posters and resources for upcoming events. I have also just become aware that there are heaps of free e-books, so I’ll be busy downloading some as soon as I get time.’

In addition to this, Joumana has been enjoying SCIS’s professional learning program.

‘I recently attended the workshop on making the most of SCIS,’ she says. ‘It was a very informative and really enjoyed it.’

SCIS community

SCIS provides school librarians with community through the Connections school library journal and its social media pages. Robyn Byrne has found this particularly beneficial.

‘I work alone in the school library so look forward to Connections, the SCIS publication, to keep me up-to-date with what is happening in other school libraries, get inspiration and information. Connections, the recent SCIS workshop I attended, and my local SLAV branch meetings are a great support network for me.’

Now serving school libraries across Australia and internationally for almost 40 years, SCIS is working hard to continue supporting librarians in a changing world, through quality cataloguing and cultivating a community of practice that helps librarians bring more to their schools. If you wish to know more about how SCIS can help your school library, email help@scisdata.com.

Library Lovers’ Day – a valentine to our school libraries

The 14th of February is Library Lovers’ Day, which is always a wonderful day of celebration in the annual calendar. This year, however, we think it’s of special significance. It’s been two long years of loving our libraries from afar much more than we’ve been able to love them up close and personal. That’s why this Library Lovers’ Day we thought we’d write a valentine to our school libraries, reflecting on the things we’ve missed about visiting them over these past two years of COVID life (sigh).

1. The promise

Whenever you walk into a school library you walk into a visible, palpable realm of future possibilities. Every book on the shelf is an adventure waiting to come alive in your hands, every hand-curated display is a chance to delve deeper into a genre or subject you love. There’s such a visceral, spiritual feeling of possibility when you walk through library doors, that’s unique to such a place of variety, depth, knowledge and wonder. This year we’ll aspire to savour it each time we walk into a library.

2. The innovation

A school library is – and always has been – a wonderful place to promote lateral thinking. Librarians are always thinking ‘outside of the box’ and running carefully considered events and activities covering the smallest, most ‘niche’ subjects you could imagine, as well as the biggest, boldest, world-changing ideas of today and the future.

3. Support for teachers

We’ve always felt that school libraries provide an essential support for classroom teachers at the coalface. Whether it’s providing and curating resources, helping them set up and understand new technology or simply helping rush through some last-minute photocopying, libraries are always there in times of teacher need.

4. A safe space for students

Growing up is fraught with challenges and the school environment can be difficult for students to navigate at times, for a host of reasons. The school library has always been a place where students can feel safe and supported. Whether it be by the warm and welcoming staff, by getting lost in a good book, or simply by having a quiet, serene place to go, the library is always there, giving us connection, culture, stories and sanctuary.

5. Librarians and students: a dynamite combo

The thing we’ve missed most of all about being in school libraries is the wonderful symbiosis between students and librarians. The nurturing, one-on-one support that students receive from librarians and the nourishing joy librarians feel as they see a student thrive and grow through a collection they’ve so carefully curated for such a purpose is truly magical.

Wherever you are in the world, take a moment today to reflect on what a library means to you. We hope you remember the special personal, significance that libraries have to you today. We also hope that as the world opens up again, we can all visit a library, carrying with us an invigorated respect and appreciation for the important role they play in our lives.

SCIS Subject Headings and your library catalogue

The importance of subject headings in a library catalogue can often go unnoticed. Consistent subject headings comprising what are known as ‘controlled vocabularies’ can be the difference between finding the resources you’re looking for quickly or wasting time attempting multiple searches that yield frustratingly few useful results.

Many people do not know, and would not suspect, the intricate way that subjects must be linked through their synonyms and related concepts to allow users to effectively explore a catalogue, linking terms and concepts with each other,  such as ‘dogs’ and ‘animals’.

This article delves into the evergreen world of SCIS subject headings; a unique and comprehensive index of relevant subject headings that work silently in the background to help create a quality search experience in schools.

What is a Subject Heading

Every record in SCIS Data contains subject headings that indicate the topical content of the resource. SCIS makes use of two different controlled vocabularies:

 Catalogue record highlighting subject headings
https://my.scisdata.com/discover/details/5383640

 

Subject headings in a bibliographic record have three key purposes:

  • To assist end-users to find the resources required to meet an information need;
  • To enable end-users to assess whether a resource contains the information required to meet an information need; and
  • To facilitate exploration of the database, locating similar resources.

Library catalogue advanced search interfaces rely on controlled vocabularies (explained below) to be effective. A search within the subject field uses controlled vocabularies; faceted searches (sometimes called search limiters) use controlled vocabularies

Scisdata.com advanced search interface, highlighting search in subject field.
Scisdata.com advanced search interface, highlighting search in subject field.

 

SCISData search results, highlighting the option to limit by facets on the lefthand side.
List of SCIS subject heading

Controlled Vocabluries

Controlled vocabularies are “established list of preferred terms from which a cataloger or indexer must select when assigning subject headings or descriptors in a bibliographic record, to indicate the content of the work in a library catalog, index, or bibliographic database”.[1]

Controlled vocabularies are an essential tool cataloguers use to ensure consistency of terminology. These lists ensure that an entity in a bibliographic database, whether it be a concept, object, person, place or event, is represented by a consistently used term or phrase.

For example, the concept ‘Disasters’ has synonyms ‘Calamities’ and ‘Catastrophes’. A controlled vocabulary will identify which term is the ‘authorised’ one, the one that will be used to identify resources about this concept. End-users using the terms ‘Calamities’ and ‘Catastrophes’ are referred to resources with the controlled term ‘’. This is important for an end-user because it means that a search for ‘calamities’ or ‘catastrophes’ will refer to the concept ‘disasters’ in order that both searches will not miss potentially relevant resources.

Uncontrolled Vocabularies

On the other end of the vocabularies scale are uncontrolled vocabularies, sometimes called folksonomies. These are lists of terms or words or phrases selected randomly, with no set list to choose from. Tag or hashtag lists, such as those used in social media sites such as Instagram, are folksonomies; they are not controlled. The terms are random and unrestricted, resulting in duplication, misspelling and incongruity. Some terms in a folksonomy may have no meaning to anyone, other than the creator of the tag. Uncontrolled vocabularies means that the user needs to guess what tags or headings have been allocated to a resource to find it.

References

Controlled vocabularies ensure consistency. End-users of databases with controlled vocabularies can be confident of locating all resources on a particular topic, especially because controlled vocabularies use cross- references.

References ‘refer’ end-users from unused terms to used headings, and between related used headings.

For example:

A search for ‘Natural disasters’ in SCIS Data will refer users to the used heading ‘Disasters’.

Record for the heading Disasters, with notes and references
Record for the heading Disasters, with notes and references

 

A search for Disasters can refer end-users to narrower headings such as ‘Avalanches’ and ‘Earthquakes’, or related terms such as ‘Accidents’ or ‘Disaster relief’.

SCIS Subject Headings List – a controlled vocabulary

SCIS Subject Headings List is the controlled vocabulary created to support the SCIS bibliographic database. It was first published in 1985, titled ASCIS Subject Headings, as a print volume. The fifth, and final print edition, was published in 2002. SCISSHL is now available as an online resource on the SCIS Data website https://my.scisdata.com/standards.

SCIS Data search interface for SCIS Subecjt Headings list

SCIS Subject Headings List is the ‘source of truth’ or ‘core’ used by SCIS cataloguers when selecting or devising appropriate subject headings for educational and curriculum resources catalogued into the SCIS Data. The list can be used by schools that subscribe to SCIS to assist their library staff in conforming to SCIS standards when adding subject headings to local resources.

 

SCISSHL contains

  1. an alphabetical listing of used and unused headings, with scope notes (definitions) if required);
  2. cross-references from unused to used headings and between allowed headings; and
  3. a set of prescriptive guidelines for the construction of other headings not in the list.

 

Using https://my.scisdata.com/standard

 

Entering a term into SCISSHL browse immediately presents the user with a list of terms.

  • Blue words are used headings. The hyperlink opens the record for that heading.
  • Grey italics terms are unused. The hyperlink opens the record for the related used heading.

For example:

SCISHL search result for the term Local. Arrow pointing to unused term in italics Local travel, another arrow pointing to the used heading in blue Local history. A third arrow pointing from the unused term Local travel to the record for the heading Public transport, with the UF Local travel.

 

 

 

Clicking on unused term, ‘Local travel’, opens the related used heading, ‘Public transport’.

Clicking on the used heading, ‘Local councils’, opens the full heading for that allowed term.

Record for the heading Local history, with notes and references

Heading records in SCISSHL

A heading record may have one or more of the following:

  • Use for Unused terms which are referenced to this used heading.
  • Broader terms Used headings which are broader in concept than the lead heading.
  • Narrower terms Used headings which are narrower or more specific that, the lead heading.
  • Related terms Used headings which are associated with the lead heading in some way other than hierarchically.
  • Notes May provide:
    • a definition on the usage and scope of the heading;
    • instructions on how the heading can be used; and/or
    • instruction on devising more specific headings.

Record for the heading Legislation, with notes and references

Subject Authorities of SCISSHL

 

In SCIS Data there are two sources of subject headings that cataloguers can use

  1. https://my.scisdata.com/standard – SCIS Subject Headings List (SCISSHL)
  2. https://my.scisdata.com/discover/thesaurus – SCIS search – Browse headings – Subject (Subject authority list)

SCISSHL is the tool that cataloguers use to add subject headings to a resource record. It provides instructions on devising further headings, as it would be impossible to make a list of all headings, including proper and common nouns headings that are needed for a general catalogue, for example the name of every order, class or species of animal.

Notes for the heading Animals

 

SCISSHL does not point end-users to actual resources. It is the core list of headings, also called the ‘standard’, that is used by cataloguers.When an end-user uses a subject advanced search, or a subject browse search in a public catalogue, the search funcaiotnliaty, uses what is known as the subject authority list to retrieve resources.

The SCIS subject authority list includes the ‘core’ SCISSHL headings as well as all the devised, or created headings, used in the SCISData database catalogue. The subject authority list in a schools’ library management system includes all the subject headings allocated to resources in the school library.  Ideally it also contains all the references (Used for, Broader, Narrower and Related terms), to allow the end user to navigate from one heading to other related headings, enhancing the effectiveness of a catalogue search.

The browse subject heading option in SCIS Data search searches all headings used in the SCIS Data subject authority list, the core headings from SCISSHL as well as devised headings.

For example:

A search for ‘Ice age’ in SCISSHL will only retrieve the core heading, as it is only searching the core headings

A search for ‘Ice age’ in Browse headings will retrieve the allowed devised headings as well, making it effective for the end-users, not just cataloguers.

Search results in subject browse for the phrase Ice age.Search results in SCISSHL for the phrase Ice age.

SCIS Authority Files

Maintaining accurate authority lists and references is time consuming as it includes devising new headings and adding cross-references between new headings and existing headings. To help with this, SCIS provides the option to subscribe to the SCIS authority files, which lists all core and devised headings used in the SCIS Data.

There are two options for downloading SCIS authority files found at https://my.scisdata.com/authorities:

  1. Reference only files. Only includes headings which have references (Used for, Broader, Narrower and Related terms).
  2. Full files. Includes all headings in SCIS data authority files, whether they have references or not.

How the headings and references are displayed to end-users depends on the library management system. In most cases only the heading and related references used in a school library database will be displayed for end-users. Cataloguing staff would see all the headings imported from SCIS Data. It is strongly suggested that library system vendors be consulted before importing the full authority files.

Updating and revising SCIS Subject Headings

SCISSHL is continually updated and revised. New headings are added, references structures reviewed, heading using out-dated terminology are updated. These are presented in the term 1 issues of Connections.

The SCIS Standards Committee is responsible for maintenance of the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry and for SCIS Subject Headings List. The Committee meets four times a year, considering working papers for new and revised headings after undertaking a thorough consultation process.

SCIS subscribers can recommend additions and changes to SCISSHL by emailing help@scisdata.com. Reasoning for the suggestion should be added. These suggestions will be reviewed by the SCIS Standards Committee.

Further resources

CASE STUDY: Belinda Doyle, Northmead CAPA High School NSW

By Belinda Doyle, Teacher Librarian at Northmead CAPA High School, NSW

About Belinda’s School

Northmead Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) High School focuses on and has a proven record of success not only in the creative and performing arts but also in academic, vocational and sporting endeavours. Our school students are drawn from both our local community and the wider community. Many of our students come from non-English speaking background and some are refugees. The school prides itself as a place where all students are welcomed, where strengths are recognised and nurtured and where differences are celebrated.

The school has a committed, dynamic teaching, administrative and executive staff with a range of experiences. The school has developed its Principles of Effective Teaching, which underpins all teaching practices. Teachers are passionate about their work and embody the school’s values. Our teachers strive to improve both their professional knowledge and their practice through their personal attributes, skills, and knowledge, to advance a sense of community and tolerance in all members of the school community to achieve excellence in learning.

The needs of our learners are met through a broad academic curriculum, strong vocational programs, and high-quality creative and performing arts programs in Visual Arts, Dance, Drama and Music School programs are complemented by a wide range of extra-curricular programs. There is a strong focus on collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, both in teaching and learning. Leadership is actively developed for the students, teaching staff and the community through targeted training and professional learning and specific pathways. Student leadership is developed in sport, creative and performing arts, multiculturalism, school service and the community.

Support for the school is strong in the local community. Many students undertake authentic learning in the community through vocational and education programs (VET) or through access to specific careers education opportunities.” Our school population consists of 1094 students and a staff of 139 teachers.

How Belinda Uses SCIS

As the Teacher Librarian in this vibrant setting which consists of a diverse school community, I focus on supporting many subjects across a range of classes which includes extension classes, GAT classes, mixed ability classes, and learning and support classes.  I aim to resource a differentiated curriculum, and this is where SCIS continues to play a role that offers peer -reviewed resources and resources that are suitable to support the NSW education curriculum. Due to our unusual circumstances relating to COVID-19 lockdowns, there has been the need to rely more on online resources to provide for our online school population.

In the past, I have relied on professional databases and professional library journals to search and review suitable websites for our school library. I have moved toward increased online professional development to further support online resources for a diverse curriculum. It is in this context that SCIS is proving to be invaluable in providing online resources which embrace ebooks and websites to support subjects that may need more resources.

As part of this process, I refer to the NESA syllabus subject documents to locate search terms or topics where there need to be more resources to be added to our collection. It is useful to have previewed and purchased an online recording from SCIS about how to enhance our collection. This recording has provided me with a broadened capability to search for resources not only in the “basic” search function but also in the “Advanced” search function. Another feature of SCIS is that it allows our online collection to be dynamic and it catalogues resources that align with syllabus changes and the diverse community of users in a comprehensive high school setting.

SCIS NOTE: Belinda viewed our 15-minute Video tutorial 4 free digital collections to import to your catalogue, which is currently available for on-demand download and viewing on our website.

ASLA Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2021. Congratulations to Anne Girolami!

ASLA Logo

 

Congratulations to Anne Girolami
Learning Leader – Information Services
Mercy College, Coburg, Victoria

The winner of the ASLA Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2021 was announced on 13 April 2021 at the ASLA/SLASA National Conference by Kerry Pope, ASLA Vice President and presented by Caroline Hartley, SCIS Manager. The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) is the proud sponsor of this prestigious Award. This National Award recognises and honours an Australian Teacher Librarian who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession of school librarianship. Through their high level of achievement in professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement they have had a positive impact on teaching and learning in their school.

Principals, professional colleagues and members of the school community were encouraged to nominate their Teacher Librarian for this award. This year there were 7 nominations from across Australia for this award. All nominations received were of an extremely high standard.

The ASLA Board and Members congratulate Anne, on this significant achievement and thank her for her outstanding contribution to our profession.  Anne’s passion for school libraries and Teacher Librarians has been a driving force in her career and she has devoted many hours to this cause. She has over 30 years of experience as a Teacher Librarian in School Libraries and loves sharing her knowledge and expertise with colleagues.

Anne Girolami

Anne’s work at Mercy College has been exceptional. Anne is a key member of the Curriculum and Pedagogy Team and meets regularly with her School Leaders. She works enthusiastically with the Library Team to deliver services and programs that are at the heart of learning and teaching and that are adhering to best practice in library standards. She continually shares her love of reading and literature with her students. Anne works hard with staff to analyse data and identify student needs. She works closely with teachers and support staff to build their capacity to prepare students for life-long learning. Anne is highly respected and valued by her Principal, the students, staff, parents and members of her school community.

Anne has made a significant contribution to ASLA over many years, as an active and committed member. She has served as an ASLA Board Director, presented at ASLA Conferences, reviewed policies and reported at ASLA Annual General Meetings.

Anne has led a number of joint working parties with ASLA and ALIA, responsible for reviewing and writing National Policies for Teacher Librarians. Anne was Chair of the ASLA Policy and Advisory Project Team (PAPT) to produce Evidence Guides for Teacher Librarians in the areas of Proficient and Highly Accomplished Accreditation to support AITSL’s Professional Standards for Teachers. These documents have proved to be invaluable and are referred to constantly by Teacher Librarians undertaking accreditation today. In 2019 – 2020, Anne chaired the team reviewing and updating Table 6 in the combined ASLA/ALIA publication ‘Learning For The Future’. Recommendations of minimum information services staffing were thoroughly researched and documented.

With Anne’s calm, intelligent and thoughtful leadership approach, these Working Parties progressed diligently and consistently with the task at hand, resulting in the production of current, relevant and outstanding documents for Australian Teacher Librarians.

Anne is to be highly commended for her extraordinary and exemplary work in advocacy. She has been a Fellow of ALIA since 2020 and is a long-term convenor of ALIA Schools, working hard for the promotion and development of school libraries in Australia. She is an active member of the School Library Coalition and the FAIR Great School Libraries Campaign. Anne Girolami is an extremely worthy recipient of this Award for 2021.

SCIS Data case study: Kathryn Harris, Pymble Public School, NSW, Australia

 

‘My job is to help the teachers with their teaching and the children with their learning. I do that in whatever way I can.’

School: Pymble Public School
Type: Primary K-6
Enrolment: 600+
Cataloguing subscription: SCIS Data + Authority Files
Library management system: Oliver Library Software
Size of collection: 18,000

The teacher librarian’s role

Kathryn is the only trained teacher librarian in the school. She has help in the library from another teacher who teaches classes and assists with circulation but does not assist with management tasks. There is also clerical support one day per week.

Kathryn runs the library herself. She buys and manages resources and assists teachers where she can, such as by recording programs to meet curriculum needs. One of her roles is to provide support for classroom teachers to provide specialist information services and teaching programs.

‘I see my job is to help the teachers with their teaching and the children with their learning. I do that in whatever way I can.’

Library collection

Pymble Public School library

As a New South Wales government school, Kathryn’s library uses the Oliver library management system. She says that 15,000 items are standard library resources – books, posters, charts, big books, teacher reference materials. A further 3000 items, such as the computer software, the DVDs and the textbooks are in the school resources section – students can’t see these on the catalogue. Technology items, such as laptops, are not loaned through the library.

Kathryn and the English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) teacher worked together to create a collection of books in languages other than English. ‘We’ve got a Community language section which has the non-English books. These are books in some of the languages represented within our school community’.

Everything in the library is catalogued. Kathryn lends nothing that isn’t on the system, although she admits that she sometimes lends her stapler but says, ‘It’s out and back for the day!’

SCIS for over 30 years

Kathryn has been in school libraries for 30 years and has used SCIS in every one. When she first started, SCIS records were on microfiche. Kathryn found the support from SCIS particularly useful as a new teacher librarian. ‘I knew that my books would be in the right place because the books were being catalogued by proper cataloguers.’ Later to automate her small school library Kathryn used Rapid Retrospective, from SCIS, to import the record. ‘We just sent in the ISBNs and SCIS sent us the records. Straight into the computer.’

At another school, Kathryn had dial-up internet in the library. She used to get to school at 7:00 am, Sydney time, while other parts of Australia were still asleep, to do the SCIS orders. ‘SCIS was so much faster at 7:00 in the morning!’ Kathryn managed the process to add extra SCIS subject headings using the Authority File to suit her students. She really enjoyed this work and didn’t regret the early starts!

SCIS hit rate

The hit rate in SCIS Data is normally around 98 per cent, except for items like a Harry Potter book in Chinese, or another of their community languages, that hasn’t necessarily been catalogued. If a record is not available, Kathryn normally checks the following week, but also sometimes sends items in to SCIS to be catalogued.

Kathryn finds the people at SCIS to be incredibly helpful when there are issues. She especially enjoys the conversations she’s had with SCIS cataloguers who share her fascination with the process.

Kathryn says, ‘Our collection is all beautifully arranged, thanks to SCIS. Even if I don’t always agree with all SCIS standards I can easily adapt them for our collection.’

Using the catalogue

Students use the catalogue to find resources in the library. It can be difficult to teach them how to use the catalogue successfully as they only have half an hour library lessons once a week, and that includes borrowing time and a teaching program.

Students who want to spend time searching the catalogue have access at home and the opportunity to come in at lunchtimes or in the morning every day. Students can access curated lists of educationally focused websites via the library catalogue (curated by the Department, using SCIS Data).

The catalogue is a well-used by Pymble Public School students.

A great collection in a small space

Due to its small size the library is used as a dedicated, traditional library space, rather than as a common area for games, puzzles and computer games or other pursuits. It also houses the school computer server (Kathryn is the computer coordinator) and a teaching space. The teaching area includes a SMART Board and a document camera that Kathryn finds particularly useful.

Kathryn is justly proud of her library. ‘We have an absolutely stunning collection.’ There are sections for community languages and graphic novels with fiction and non-fiction areas. The library includes a senior section for years 5 and 6, and a junior fiction section. Sets of readers for history, geography, science and sets of novels, dictionaries and home readers also have their place in the library.

Kathryn has become an expert at managing the space she has to the best effect. She says, ‘Everything is where it is because that’s the only place it can possibly go.’

‘The service and data provided by SCIS allow me to deliver a well-catalogued collection with minimal expenditure of time and effort. SCIS frees me to do the more important work of a teacher librarian – support my staff and students.’

Interweaving stories and history: using the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples Resource

Written by Dr Belle Alderman AM, Director, National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc

National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL) logo and photo of Belle AldermanTHE PROJECT

The National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL) launched its Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples Resource on 22 July 2020, completing a 12-month project funded by the Australian Government, Department of Education, Skills and Employment. We aim to:

  • create a freely available, online database of children’s books by and about Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples;
  • encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to be engaged in their learning through increased cultural understanding;
  • provide a resource that supports incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures into learning environments;
  • map books against the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum;
  • offer teaching resources related to these books to support children’s learning;
  • enhance the quality of culturally appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learning activities; and
  • support teachers to integrate contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture into their work with children.

Our project coincides with the need and the right environment for this Resource. Movements around the world are highlighting the importance of #OwnVoices to create books. Publishers are ramping up their publishing programs of children’s books to reflect a wider diversity of voices. Grants, fellowships, mentorships and awards in this area have increased. At the same time, organisations are prompting individuals from wide-ranging backgrounds to participate in story making. Initiatives like the Spinifex Writing Camps, developed by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, are bringing together published children’s writers and illustrators to work with Aboriginal children in communities across Australia. Initiatives such as these encourage youthful voices to write and illustrate their own stories. The NCACL Resource reflects these changing times.

This project reflects expanding publications in this area. Recent publishers like Children’s Ground and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, along with the long-standing major publishers in this area, Magabala Books and Fremantle Press, are examples. Over 30 books in this area are in publishers’ programs for 2020. The new Resource highlights this growth.

After mapping out this project’s goals, activities and deadlines, 35 individuals across Australia, chosen for their broad expertise, joined a collective to comment on the books selected. Moderators guided these individuals and considered their commentary, while the Project Team and an external Reference Group monitored the project as a whole. An essential task included determining the functional requirements of the Resource, that is, what do we want the Resource to do? Our database designer, 372Digital, then considered these and created the database. At every development, NCACL’s Website Manager guided the database’s implementation.

The Resource has all the usual search filters for finding a specific author, title, publisher, publication date, audience and subject plus an annotation for each book. Added strengths include linking books to the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum, free teaching resources presented as hyperlinks for each book, identification of a location, the cultural groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ language in the books, where these could be identified. The Resource also offers free text searching of annotations. This provides access to such topics as writing techniques and styles as well as artistic media and techniques. Any words featured in the annotation are searchable.

A special feature is the facility to share your search results by a once-off registration which appears at the top of every NCACL webpage — look for Login/Register. Thereafter, searchers can choose their book ‘favourites’ and share these with colleagues using a variety of social media such as email, Twitter, Facebook and Messenger. Favourites can also be printed out for personal use.

DEMONSTRATING THE RESOURCE

There are currently over 300 children’s books in the Resource. To provide an insight into strengths and potentials for teacher librarians and teachers, in particular, one Australian Curriculum level and subject area will be examined along with the books retrieved. The aim here is to demonstrate searching strategies, techniques for broadening and narrowing the selection, depth and scope of books retrieved. One example of a particular curriculum and year level will demonstrate the potential of the Resource.

The example chosen is Year 6 HASS — History. This curriculum area covers ‘experiences of Australian democracy and citizenship, including the status and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, migrants, women and children’. The Australian Curriculum code for this area is ACHASSK135.

RETRIEVING BOOKS USING THE CURRICULUM CODE ACHASSK135

This particular Australian Curriculum Code retrieves 19 books with the audience level ranging from five years through 12 years of age. Each book will have its own audience range. The range reflects what we know about children and books — that a child’s chronological age does not always correspond with their reading and comprehension age.

Bruce Pascoe, Young Dark Emu: A Truer History
Bruce Pascoe, Young Dark Emu: A Truer
History

Publication dates for these books range from the earliest, The Aboriginal Children’s History of Australia by Aboriginal Children to the latest, Young Dark Emu: A Truer History. The collection of 19 books includes Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal creators working together and/or independently. A variety of publishers are presented including small (One Day Hill) and large (Allen & Unwin), longstanding (Magabala), mainstream (Walker Books), specialist (Omnibus and Little Hare), community-based (Kadjina Community) and educational (Era Publications and Board of Studies NSW).

This set of books reflects a range of styles and genres, with a concentration on stories which enable young people to experience the lives of others. Autobiographies such as Tucker and The Shack That Dad Built and biographies such as Albert: Albert Namatjira and the Hermannsburg Watercolour Artists, Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History, Old Tucker Man, Yinti, Desert Cowboy and Jandamarra enable young people to experience the lives and times of others.

Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer, Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History
Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer, Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History

IDENTIFYING LANGUAGE AND PLACE

Several of the books in this collection identify a specific location and/or language spoken by those living in the area. For example, the language identified in Albert: Albert Namatjira and the Hermannsburg Watercolour Artists, is the Western Arrernte language (C8). The location for this story is (NT SF53-13). These alphanumeric codes are provided by AUSTLANG, developed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). AUSTLANG uses alphanumeric codes to identify both language and place. These relate to a map available from AIATSIS either in hard copy or through their website’s online map. The title Wulungarra Stories in Walmajarri and English identifies this story’s language as English, Walmajarri/Walmatjarri language (A66) (WA SE51-16) and its location as Western Australia (WA). Many of the 300-plus books in the Resource identify both location and language. To find other books relating to place and people, the subject filter includes these in an alphabetical list.

CHOOSING SUBJECTS

The Subjects search filter is a drop-down menu, which offers a simple way to find subjects of interest. Concentrating on the curriculum area studied in Year 6 HASS — History, several subjects are repeated in these 19 books, usually with different
emphases.

Below are just a few of the subjects included in this modest collection of 19 books: agriculture, aquaculture, biographies, children as artists, children as authors, colonisation, injustice, livestock, outlaws, Papunya (South Central NT), and Warlpiri people (C15) (NT SF52-04). Should a subject be of particular interest, other books with this same subject can be located through the Subject filter’s drop-down menu.

Sometimes the subjects are broad. For example, ‘Social life and customs’ is a broad subject listed for a few of the Year 6 HASS — History books.
Searching this subject throughout the entire Resource retrieves 28 books. This broader subject may retrieve a collection of books which a teacher or teacher librarian wishes to explore further.

Two other interesting subjects featuring in the Year 6 HASS — History curriculum books include: children as artists (31 books) and children as authors (30 books). These offer the possibility of retrieving books that feature children as creators. Considering Year 6 HASS — History curriculum, these books offer children as writers and illustrators along with their interpretations of history in such books as Papunya School Book of Country and History and The Aboriginal Children’s History of Australia.

Anita Heiss with Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin, Kicking Goals with Goodsey and Magic
Anita Heiss with Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin, Kicking Goals with Goodsey and Magic

Young children are able to more easily understand history, time periods and adults’ life experiences by reading biographical works such as Kicking Goals with Goodsey and Magic and Pilawuk: When I Was Young. Autobiographical books serve a similar purpose with books such as Tucker and The Shack That Dad Built. Reading and studying these books enables young people to experience the lives of others in different times and places.

Invariably there are young people fascinated by the meaning of words, including those in different languages and details of specific environments. The HASS — History collection includes two examples. One is a dictionary of words and phrases, Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and
Phrases and the second example is a picture book, Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu that identifies the Aboriginal seasons, plants and animals in this particular location. Another book, Wulungarra Stories in Walmajarri and English, is bilingual, with both Walmajarri and English featured along with 14 short stories about life in the Kadinina Community.

Elaine Russell, The Shack That Dad Built
Elaine Russell, The Shack That Dad Built

SEARCHING FOR HISTORICAL SUBJECTS

Rachel Bin Salleh, Alfred’s War
Rachel Bin Salleh, Alfred’s War

This particular Australian Curriculum code suggests historical events and documents will form the basis for some of the stories. These can be retrieved
through the Subjects drop-down menu. For example, words reflecting specific historical times and documents occur as subjects in this particular collection of books:

  • Aboriginal Australian soldiers Alfred’s War
  • Colonisation Old Tucker Man
  • Wik Judgement My Place
  • Stolen generation Nyuntu Ninti (What You Should Know) and Pilawuk: When I Was Young
Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins, My Place
Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins, My Place

SEARCHING BY FREE TEXT

At the top of the web page, there is a long search bar. The words inside say Search by Title and Annotation. Entering words in this search bar will pick up words located anywhere in the books’ annotations. For example, words about artistic style and media, writing styles, and genres may appear in the annotation but not in the subjects. Checking the annotations of several of these books featuring Year 6 HASS — History curriculum, the following words can be retrieved in the Search by Title and Annotation: naïve style, maps, photographs, song, rhyme and allegory. This is a small sample, but it is an indication of wide-ranging topics available in the Resource. Topics such as these may capture the child’s imagination as well as extend the curriculum being studied.

EXPLORING TEACHING AND OTHER RESOURCES

Each book includes a range of external hyperlinks that offer teaching and other resources, usually four or more, to explore each book. These are extraordinarily diverse. These links explore different aspects of each book, enhance understanding of the content and, most importantly, many are highly engaging and can be used in the classroom or at home. Sources vary widely and include newspaper and magazine articles, YouTube, oral history, animations, artworks, musical presentations, dance, educational activities and other enriching experiences intended to extend the books in multiple ways. These reach children with different interests and abilities. Some of these resources are aimed at adults to inform them or for the adult to interpret for the child.

Listed below are some of the types of resources available.

  • Interviews
  • Musical and play productions
  • Reviews
  • Readings and performances of the books
  • Biographical profiles
  • Exhibitions
  • Curriculum plans and activities
  • Extension activities featuring art, music, dance, writing and other creative activities
  • Films, videos and recordings
  • Information, visual and written, about place and communities
  • Historical documents

Take Bruce Pascoe’s Young Dark Emu as an example. The types of resources for this book include:

  • a Guardian newspaper article outlining ways to use this book with young people;
  • an ABC program featuring a digibook, with short clips prompting students to consider the relationship between Indigenous people and the land around them;
  • a question and answer session with Bruce Pascoe; and
  • a teachers’ guide featuring learning activities linked to the Australian Curriculum.

Resources such as these extend the book, inspire young people and encourage an inquiring mind.

SHARING RESOURCES

Teaching and learning is a collegial activity which involves sharing resources with friends and colleagues. The Resource is designed for sharing ‘favourites’. Located at the top right of each web page there is a Login/Register button. By completing the required details, you are then able to ‘choose’ books which are your ‘favourites’, compile these as a list and send them via a hyperlink to a friend or colleague who then can download these details. You can also share your favourites on the usual social media platforms. This sharing facility ensures that the Resource reaches people far and wide, easily and quickly.

CONCLUSION

Most importantly, these books offer stories by and about Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Interweaving stories and history: these deepen our respect and understanding of each other.

The Resource is a database of children’s books aimed at young people from birth through 12 years of age. For this article, the curriculum area Year 6 HASS — History is used to demonstrate the rich potential of the Resource created by the NCACL. Exploring even this small collection of 19 books demonstrates that the Resource offers wide-ranging topics and stories, with the potential to reach children with various interests and abilities. There are innumerable types of stories, some told in Aboriginal languages, many located in specific communities, many written in different styles and illustrated with wide-ranging artistic media. The choice is wide. Most importantly, these books offer stories by and about Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Interweaving stories and history: these deepen our respect and understanding of each other.

Aunty Joy Muir and Sue Lawson, Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases
Aunty Joy Muir and Sue Lawson, Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abdulla, Ian 2014, Tucker, Omnibus Books, Norwood, SA.

The Aboriginal Children’s History of Australia, 1977, Rigby in association with Island Heritage.

Austin, Debbie (as told to her by her uncle, Banjo Clarke), Old Tucker Man, One Day Hill, Camberwell East,
Vic.

Bin Salleh, Rachel 2018, Alfred’s War, illus Samantha Fry, Magabala Books, Broome, WA.

Brian, Janeen 1996, Pilawuk: When I Was Young, Era Publications, Flinders Park, SA.

Freeman, Pamela 2018, Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History, illus Sophie Beer, Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette Australia.

Greenwood, Mark 2013, Jandamara, illus Terry Denton, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.

Heiss, Anita, Goodes Adam & O’Loughlin Michael 2016, Kicking Goals with Goodesy and Magic, Piccolo Nero, Carlton, Vic.

Kamholtz, Damien 2006, Albert: Albert Namatjira and the Hermannsburg Watercolour Artists, illus by children, Openbook Australia, Adelaide, SA.

Laurel, Yangkana (Madeline) 1999, Wulungarra Stories in Walmajarri and English, Kadjina Community, Fitzroy Crossing, WA.

Lowe, Pat 2000, Yinti, Desert Cowboy, illus Jimmy Pike, Magabala Books, Broome, WA.

Lucas, Diane 2005, Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, illus Ken Searle, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.

Muir, Aunty Joy & Lawson Sue 2018, Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases, Black Dog Books/Walker Books Australia, Newtown, NSW.

Nawili, Rak & others, 1995, Rak Nawili, Board of Studies NSW, North Sydney, NSW.

Papunya School & Nadia Wheatley 2001, Papunya School Book of Country and History, illus Papunya School and Ken Searle, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.

Pascoe, Bruce 2019, Young Dark Emu: A Truer History, Magabala Books, Broome, WA.

Randall, Bob & Hogan Melanie 2011, Nyuntu Ninti (What You Should Know), ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.

Russell, Elaine 2004, The Shack That Dad Built, Little Hare Books, Surry Hills, NSW.

Wheatley, Nadia 2018, My Place, illus Donna Rawlins, Walker Books Australia, Newtown, NSW.

This article was first published in ACCESS, Vol. 34, No. 4, November 2020. Reproduced here with permission. ACCESS is the professional journal of the Australian School Library Association Inc. (ASLA).

Books, pets and prizes: introducing the SPCA Reading Challenge

Kiwi kids love animals and this year the SPCA Reading Challenge brings together books and creatures in a fun summer competition. Melissa Wastney, Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, introduces New Zealand school libraries to the SPCA Reading Challenge.

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura (formerly NZ Book Council) has joined forces with SPCA to get kids reading more books over the holidays.

The SPCA Reading Challenge is an interactive website. Children aged 5 and up are invited to register for free and choose an animal team to ‘play’ for. Players log the books they read over the summer, along with a star rating and short review. A leader board keeps track of the teams as they move up and down the rankings accordingly.

Launching on December 14, the SPCA Reading Challenge will run until January 22.

SPCA Reading Challenge logo

The initiative follows two previous competitions – the Super Smash Reading Challenge in 2019, which teamed T20 cricket and books, and the Stay Home Book Club which ran over the national lockdown period in 2020.

Guided by children’s feedback, the SPCA Reading Challenge features an improved book logging system and teams arranged by age groups.

Paper Plus gift cards are up for grabs every day of the competition. There are lots of books to be won too, thanks to the support of Wellington publisher Gecko Press. To win a specially-curated bundle of books about animals, children can send in a picture of themselves reading to a pet, farm, or wildlife animal, or even a stuffed animal friend. The top readers in each team will also win Paper Plus gift cards at the end of the competition.

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura CEO Juliet Blyth says the reading challenge is a fun new way to address the well-documented ‘summer slide’ in learning over the holidays.

“We’re so excited to be running the Reading Challenge again this summer. We want more children to read more, to experience the joy of reading and hopefully encourage other whānau members to pick up a book too,” she says.

“Research tells us over and over again that reading for pleasure is the single most important factor in a child’s educational success, and our competition is a great way to support reading over summer so that when children return to school in the new year, their learning hasn’t suffered as a result of the long break.”

“At Read NZ we think it’s really important that children find reading fun, and our partnerships with the SPCA, Paper Plus and Gecko provide plenty of opportunities to read and learn about animal welfare and win cool prizes.”

SPCA National Education Manager Nicole Peddie welcomes the initiative and says SPCA feel fortunate to be involved in the exciting challenge for Kiwi kids.

“With the right books summer reading can be a fun and enjoyable activity for children to sustain the reading levels they’ve worked so hard to achieve over the school year and we think animals, be them companion, farmed, wild, even prehistoric or mythical, are a cool topic to read about!”

“Animals are not only interesting to read about, but they also make wonderful, supportive reading buddies. We know that practice makes perfect. However, many children dislike reading aloud in front of their classmates, even their family sometimes. However, an animal companion won’t judge a child’s mistakes and will calmly listen to and enjoy their company.”

“As such, practising reading with an animal companion, even a toy version, can help children associate reading with pleasure. When reading becomes enjoyable, children are likely to do it more often, improving both their skill and confidence along the way. Plus, most animals enjoy this calm and relaxing interaction too,” says Nicole.

Read NZ is grateful for the generous support of Paper Plus and Gecko Press for the prizes on offer.

The SPCA Reading Challenge site can be found here. 

Find more detailed information.

Download an A4 poster to print by clicking here.

Find more downloadable resources to print.

New Zealand librarians in lockdown

As we look back on 2020 and plan for the new year, we revisit Miriam Tuohy’s Synergy article ‘New Zealand librarians in lockdown‘. In this article, Miriam discusses the responses from their library community to the restrictions they encountered and outlines what we can take away from these most unusual experiences.

*****

The Covid-19 pandemic has made this year a particularly tough one. We’ve all had to do extraordinary things in circumstances that are both challenging and still evolving. In New Zealand our Covid-19 elimination strategy saw the whole country shut down in late March, with schools closed and everyone outside of essential services working from home. After a brief return to almost-normal life, restrictions were put in place again to contain another outbreak of Covid-19 in our largest city.

Since March, school library staff and National Library Services to Schools teams alike have had to adapt what we do, and how we work, to try and meet these challenges while still providing ongoing services and support.

The nationwide lockdown

National Library Services to Schools Covid-19 response

By mid-March, we were talking about possible school closures and how we’d provide support if that happened. When the move to Alert level 4 was announced, we had plans in place. With the challenge of working and learning at home ahead of us, we first had to look at what was going to be possible. Then we could decide what was the most meaningful work we could do. Our top priority was making sure people were OK — looking after our well-being, balancing work and family responsibilities while at home.

 

…we first had to look at what was going to be possible. Then we could decide what was the most meaningful…
Our existing online services were given a boost.
  • We extended the hours of our AnyQuestions online service to help students with research and inquiries so they could get help throughout the school day.
  • We reviewed and updated key pages on our website for supporting reading and learning at home and made them easy to find.
  • We began a major review of Topic Explorer (curated digital resource sets for curriculum support) — more than 90 topic sets have now been updated.
  • We offered our online professional learning free of charge. Staff from more than 60 schools signed up to learn about collection development, and resources to inspire and inform inquiry learning.
  • Help with login information for the EPIC databases (funded by the Ministry of Education and managed by the National Library) was in demand during lockdown, and in June we recorded the highest usage rates ever!
We were also able to try new things:
  • We hosted webinars to support school library staff working from home. Our team kept participants informed, entertained, and most importantly connected during lockdown.
  • The school library network groups that Services to Schools facilitates were moved online, with socialcatch-ups via Zoom scheduled first. Term 2 network meetings via Zoom included our first-ever national meeting for intermediate (for Years 7-8) schools.
  • We trialled a new channel for online learning, with a short email course entitled “Your school library is still open”, designed to help schools set up an online presence for their library as quickly as possible.

School library services during lockdown

Slides from our first webinar supporting school library staff working at home during lockdown.Services to Schools Capability team members working from home during lockdown.

In preparation for lockdown, school library teams made a huge effort to get as many books as possible out to their students to take home, with record numbers of items issued in the last few days before Alert level 4 came into force.

During lockdown, some school library staff were able to stay in regular contact with their colleagues, students and families but others could not. In Services to Schools’ first webinar for school library staff working at home we polled attendees about communicating with colleagues, and with students and their whānau (families). Email polled higher than all other channels as shown in Figures 1 & 2.

Table. Figure 1: School library staff communication with colleagues during lockdown (n=113)There was renewed interest from some schools in providing eBooks as part of their future planning.
Those who were able to stay connected with their community were mindful of the stresses for children and their families during lockdown and took care to focus on supporting wellbeing and learning where possible, while not overwhelming people with information.

Access to digital resources and technology

There was renewed interest from some schools in providing eBooks as part of their future planning.
Schools with an eBook platform continued to promote this service, and those without encouraged their communities to make use of their local public library eBook systems. There was renewed interest from some schools in providing eBooks as part of their future planning.

Some school libraries with managed sets of devices were able to make these available to students over lockdown. The Ministry of Education embarked on a massive rollout of Wi-Fi and personal devices (as well as print ‘hard packs’ with workbooks) to support learning at home.

School library staff curated free eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital resources for their community, and produced videos and other ‘how-to’ information to promote and encourage their use.

Virtual story-times

The Coalition for Books worked with the publishing and library sectors here to develop arrangements and guidance for running virtual story-times. Some school library staff made this a regular feature of their support for students during lockdown, reading live on YouTube or joining in class video calls to read aloud.

School re-openings

New Zealand’s Covid-19 alert level system uses the term ‘bubble’ to describe the concepts of self-isolation and social distancing. When schools re-opened at Alert level 3 in late April, some library staff returned to school, working alongside small class bubbles in the library.

A handful of schools set up click-and-collect services to make books available again for students and their families.

On 13 May 2020 New Zealand moved to Alert level 2. Services to Schools lending service centres in Auckland and Christchurch re-opened and our Capability Facilitators were again able to meet face-to-face with school staff. Finally, on 8 June 2020, we moved to Alert level 1 where we stayed for the next 9 weeks.

Auckland schools back to Alert level 3

On 12 August 2020 the Auckland region moved back into Alert level 3, and the rest of New Zealand to Alert level 2, after a new community outbreak. Schools in Auckland were closed, and all non-essential workers were once again working from home. At the time of writing*, the whole of New Zealand is at Alert level 2, with all schools able to open again and most people back at their regular place of work, but with social distancing and gathering sizes restricted.

How librarians can prepare for challenging times

If you think about the key elements of a school librarian’s role, developing the skills to do these well will help us be prepared for future challenges.

  • We focus on the needs of our community and include them as we make informed decisions about what library services and resources will work best for them.
  • We develop and use systems to organise information and stories, to make access easy for our community.
  • We create safe and welcoming environments where people can read, work and learn together or alone.
  • We keep up-to-date with literature and information published for children and young people and do our best to make these available to our community.
  • We keep up-to-date with new technologies, tools and platforms and explore how to use them ourselves and to support others.
Over and above that, there are some key traits I think librarians need to develop – regardless of where we work – to help us deal with challenges.

 

Resilience: recognise that challenges, uncertainty and change are inevitable. If there is one thing we’ve learned from the Covid-19 pandemic it is the importance of well- being and kindness – looking after ourselves so we can look after others. We need to develop strategies to help bounce back when we’ve been stressed or stretched in new ways. In our work, we need to design services that are flexible and adaptable, that reduce challenges, and give people options that work best for them.

…we need to design services that are flexible and adaptable, that reduce challenges, and give people options that work best for them.

Reflection: when you look back at the challenges you’ve faced in 2020, think about your actions and interactions. Which were the most meaningful, and why was that? How can we focus our attention on those good bits and build them in to our every-day lives and work? How are we different now, and what impact will this have on our roles?
Future-focus: what do you think your biggest challenges will be in future? Will they be different to the challenges you have now? When you hear about new ideas, resources and tools, think about their potential impact on your library’s services. It’s important to keep learning all the time – evaluating what we do and looking for ways to improve.
Connections: good relationships are fundamental to our work. Maintaining connections and keeping lines of communication open with our communities were so important during lockdown. What we have seen is that it’s often those who are most isolated – whether geographically or socially – who need extra support to connect. How can we strengthen relationships and make our face-to-face and online interactions as positive and impactful as possible?

Changes resulting from the pandemic

Despite the difficulties this year, we have also seen some bright spots, and positive changes. Responding to the pandemic has brought out strengths people and teams didn’t know they had. Creative problem-solving has led to innovative changes in the way we do things. Understanding what really matters to people helped us focus on how we can have the greatest impact.

The weeks of lockdown here gave school library staff time to reflect on how the library is working for their school community – their collections, the spaces, and the services the library offers – and to make plans for change and improvement.

For National Library’s Services to Schools, some of the changes we introduced during lockdown are becoming business-as-usual for us now. Our online learning courses will remain free for the rest of 2020. Webinars will become a regular feature of our PLD programme, as will sector-based Zoom network meetings bringing together intermediate or area schools from across the country, for example.

We expect the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to be with us for some time yet. For example, there may be schools with lower levels of non-government funding (related to a drop in fee-paying international students, or financial hardship in the community) who aren’t able to support their library as they have in the past. In time the flow-on effects of school closures and disruptions will be clearer, and there will be ways for school libraries to help mitigate any learning loss.

 

At Services to Schools, we will work alongside schools in the months ahead to help them further strengthen the contribution their library can make to student learning and wellbeing. We hope it isn’t too long before we can do that face-to-face with all our school library colleagues!

_______
Miriam Tuohy joined the National Library of New Zealand’s Services to Schools as School Library Development Senior Specialist in 2016. Her involvement in the New Zealand education system spans early childhood education, primary and secondary school and tertiary libraries. Miriam was a member of the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA) National Executive from 2010- 2016 including a year as President in 2015-16. As part of her current role, Miriam has contributed to the publication of Services to Schools framework for school library development, the 2018 and 2019 reports of the nationwide surveys of New Zealand school libraries. She is also involved in developing and delivering professional development for school library staff and teachers, and is a regular contributor to the National Library of New Zealand’s Libraries & Learning blog.
Appendix 1. Feedback
  • “Really enjoyed attending the meeting. I hope you can continue to offer online meetings. They work much better for us, we were forced to become really good at online meetings over lockdown.”
  • “Thank you for all the marshalling and organising and guiding us you do. We are much enriched by being a group, with the opportunity to share and communicate.”
  • “Thank you all of you – I’ve really loved the weekly webinars and they’ve been a lifeline to the library community.”
  • “I have really enjoyed the webinars and found them really supportive and useful – thank you and your team so much for all the hard work you have put into preparing them.”
  • “Thank you for producing this brilliant series of webinars. I have enjoyed them, have investigated almost all the links and plan to put some into action as soon as I have organised whatever happens at school when I eventually return. I am in my 7th week off school, with no way I can access my library or programme, so can do little except the PD you are offering.”
  • “Thanks for your amazing webinars over the last 4 weeks. I have been really inspired and have enjoyed the very professional presentations.”
* On the 26/11/2020 - when the SCIS Blog republished this article - New Zealand was at Alert level 1. 

This article first appeared in Synergy, online journal of the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV).

It’s now time to take stock

Written by Julie Styles, Cataloguing Librarian, SCIS

With the end of the year fast approaching, now is an excellent time to consider stocktaking your library collection. You may want to stocktake the whole collection at once or do the fiction this year and the non-fiction next year. It all depends on how much time you have available and how much labour you have at your disposal.

Advantages of stocktaking

In handling each resource, you learn a lot about what you have and have not in your collection.

It may be time to ‘weed’ out outdated or little-used material. The ever-changing subject areas of computer science, science and geography are always a good place to start.

Books in a poor state of repair may need to be repaired or replaced.

You are likely to find at least a few books that have been incorrectly shelved and missing for a long time.

Gaps in subject areas will be discovered. You may have nothing or very little on 3D printing. You may alternatively decide you have quite enough on ancient civilisations.

Due to popularity, you may decide to buy additional copies of some titles.

Best of all, your collection will be all organised and ready to start the next school year.

Colourful books stacked tightly
Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

How to go about doing a library stocktake

As always, we recommend that you speak to your library management software vendor for specific instructions on how to complete a stocktake.

Stocktaking and SCIS records

The SCIS catalogue, like every other library catalogue, is continually evolving. It reflects changing international standards in cataloguing and internal policy decisions. Many of these internal changes come as a result of your feedback and often enhance the usability of the catalogue. Usually, we implement changes from a certain date and do not worry about previous records. However, in some circumstances, it is considered necessary to change older records also. When this is the situation, in many cases, we can make ‘blanket’ or ‘global’ changes to our older records. As this is a big job, we usually concentrate our efforts on records created in the last ten years.

Changes that impact SCIS records

In 2015 we stopped treating stories with rhyming text as poetry, changing the Dewey number from the number for poetry to F for fiction. And the subject headings for all these titles now had Fiction as a subdivision instead of Poetry. The SCIS genre heading Stories in rhyme and the SCOT Verse stories was also added to the record. Global changes were made to records made in and after 2012.

Before 2018 series titles were recorded as presented on the item, resulting in inconsistencies across records. Selecting consistent and authorised series authorities, and updating records has been a significant project and work continues to ensure that older records are linked with the correct series term.

From January 2018, we started adding diacritical marks to name and series authorities. This particularly made a difference to names and titles in the Māori language. We continue to update older records to reflect these new authorities.

Series sequential numbering terms such as Bk., Book, No., Number, Pt, Part, Vol., Volume and Issue are no longer included in the series statement.

RDA cataloguing rules require cataloguers to enter the information exactly as it appears on the book. But this can cause inconsistencies in series filing as the sequential terms used often vary amongst publishers. It was for this reason that SCIS revised its cataloguing standards in May 2018 to record the series number without the sequential term. Older records are now being stripped of these terms.

In addition to these major bulk changes, we occasionally pick up spelling errors, Dewey number errors, and cataloguing errors in individual records which we correct immediately.

Finally, if you prefer to take on a smaller project, we have recently deleted nearly two thousand records for websites that no longer exist and updated nearly 800 URL’s on records that have been re-directed. It may be time to review your website records against the records we have or no longer have on our database.

Conclusion

At SCIS, we have worked hard to make changes to records to improve the functionality of your library catalogue. However, if you still have many of the old records, your library users will not be gaining the full benefit of all these improvements.

Libraries that wish to update their SCIS records to pick up enhancements may decide to re-download the record for each of the titles handled during a stocktake. Yes, it will add to the process, but it is certainly not something you will have to do every year. However, I emphasise, if you want to do a big ‘clean up’ overwriting existing records with SCIS records, you need to confirm with your library management software vendor first to make sure you are doing it correctly. We do not want you to end up with duplicate records or deleted records inadvertently.

Please feel free to share your stocktaking experiences.

Happy stocktaking!