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).

Acknowledging Indigenous communities and culture in SCIS Data

The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) wishes to acknowledge the Kulin Nation, Traditional Custodians of the land on which our offices are located, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands across Australia, their Elders, Ancestors, cultures and heritage.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 is #InThisTogether2020, and in these trying times, this has never been more relevant.

SCIS recognises our responsibility to work for national progress in reconciliation and we are committed to continuing to work towards achieving this outcome.

SCIS cataloguing standards recognise the rich and special nature of indigenous communities in society. As an Australian and New Zealand focussed database, we have some unique cataloguing standards that recognise the Māori and Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in our database.

Dewey Decimal Classification and book numbers

To give emphasis and a shorter number to religion, spirituality and creation stories of the Australian Aboriginal people, the permanently unassigned Dewey number 298 is used.

For works where the book number would, if built according to SCIS Standards, be ABO and covers topics on Australian Aboriginal peoples, substitute the letters ABL.

SCIS Subject Headings

Resources on specific indigenous people are entered under their name e.g. Iwi (Māori people), Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal peoples.

Māori terms where applicable are used e.g. Waka, Wharenui, Te Reo Māori.
Names of Māori tribes can be added to the list e.g. Tainui (Māori people), Waikato (Māori people).

Reconciliation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia is an allowed heading, along with Stolen generations.

Additionally, the names and languages of every major grouping of Australian Aboriginal peoples have been added.

SCIS Subject Headings SCIS Subject Headings

SCIS Standards are always changing and adapting to meet our school library communities’ expectations. We welcome feedback; the SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) is happy to receive and review suggestions from our school library community.

#InThisTogether2020 #NRW2020

Renate Beilharz
Cataloguing team leader, SCIS

Renate has worked for SCIS since 2018. A qualified teacher librarian, she worked in secondary school libraries for 20 years before teaching library and information services at Box Hill TAFE. She is passionate about ensuring that schools receive the quality data needed to empower information discovery for students.

SCIS is heading to NZ in March

It’s been five months since SCIS was last in NZ, and we’re getting ready to come back.

We’re hosting professional learning workshops in Auckland (15 March), Wellington (18 March) and Christchurch (21 March). These workshops – hosted by SCIS Manager Ben Chadwick and Director of Metadata and Library Services Rachel Elliott – are suitable for SCIS subscribers and non-subscribers, and are a great way to learn how to make the most of SCIS while catching up with other school library staff.

Not a subscriber? If you would like to check out what SCIS offers before heading to one of our open workshops, register for a free trial. You can browse through the SCIS catalogue, download records in SCISWeb, and check out how we can assist with your resource management and collection development. We’d love to have a chat and answer any questions at the workshop.

At each location, we will host two workshops: a free one-hour information session, as well as a three-hour workshop aimed for subscribers, Making the Most of SCIS. Places are limited for all sessions, so register here to secure your spot.

  • Making the Most of SCIS workshop ($55.00AUD)
    These workshops are open to all school library staff. The workshop offers an in-depth understanding of how SCIS can assist to provide a more effective library service for school libraries. Participants will enhance their understanding of SCIS as a database of consistent catalogue records for educational resources, created to international standards.This workshop includes materials and light catering.
  • SCIS Information Session (FREE)
    In each location, we are also hosting a one-hour session for non-subscribers who wish to know more about SCIS and the services we provide.

To register for our NZ workshops, click here.

For more information about our professional learning sessions, including our upcoming webinar series that will begin 16 February, click here.

If you have any questions, pop them in an email to our customer service team at scisinfo@esa.edu.au.

We hope to see you while we’re in New Zealand.

Connections 90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Want some websites?

The National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools team maintains a set of high interest topics pages with links to selected quality websites on topics such as SeasonsWearable Art, Brain Science and the Rugby World Cup 2011.

We have selected these resources to help you when you need online information relating to popular curriculum based topics. To make sure the resources are appropriate we’ve used the following standard criteria: accuracy, authority, coverage, currency and objectivity.

High interest topics from National Library of NZ

Add these topics to your library catalogue

SCIS provides MARC records for a range of websites each month and these are available for selection and download via the SCIS Special Order Files new SCIS websites page [SCIS login required]. Use the Last month option to preview websites added recently (including the National Library of NZ topics) and select those appropriate for your library.

To order and download SCIS records specifically for the National Library of New Zealand’s high interest topics:

  1. Open the document: SCIS numbers for NLNZ topics  [Word format]
  2. Delete any topics you don’t wish to download
  3. Hover over the left hand column of this table until the black downward arrow appears. Click to highlight the column, and then copy the SCIS numbers
  4. Paste these into the SCIS Create Orders box and click the Process Order button [SCIS login required]
  5. Save the usmarc.dat file from the SCIS Orders table to your computer, and import it to your library management system.
  6. Check by title or subject that the records display as you expect them in your library catalogue’s search module.

If you know you want the full set of 47 topics then open this file of SCIS NLNZ order numbers only. Then copy and paste the SCIS order numbers into the SCIS Create Orders box and click the Process Order button [SCIS login required].

Want more websites?
Do let us know what kind of websites and topics you are looking for in SCIS.

SCIS at SLANZA 2011

SLANZA On the wave
The School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa SLANZA 2011 conference kicked off on Sunday afternoon 17 July at St Cuthbert’s College in Auckland and SCIS is pleased to be part of this exciting three day conference.

Tricia Nathan and Pru Mitchell from the SCIS  team are at Stand 3 on Level 1 of the Information Centre Exhibition space. We look forward to catching up with New Zealand school library staff, library system vendors and presenters. There are several SCIS presentations happening throughout the programme.

SCIS at SLANZA
SCIS at SLANZA

Monday 18 July
Collection development life savers (Tricia Nathan) in the Auditorium 11.00-11.45 am

Giving your collection real authority (Tricia Nathan) in I09 2.40-3.25 pm

Tuesday 19 July
Professional learning horizons (Pru Mitchell) in the Media Lab 11.00 am-12.40 pm

Wednesday 20 July
MARC my e-books (Pru Mitchell) in I09 2.30-3.15 pm

SCIS will also be part of the conference social media stream at Twitter @schoolscatinfo and our new Facebook page.
The conference hashtag is #slanza11