Lesson 1: Help! I’ve taken over a library. What do I do now?

“The school library is essential to every long-term strategy for literacy, education, information provision and economic, social and cultural development.” – School Library Manifesto

Welcome to the world of the school library and lesson 1 of the SCIS short course! This lesson was created for new school library staff but is perfect for library staff that would like a refresher. Focusing on collection curation and cataloguing, we will help you get started in organising the resource offerings of your library.

Running a school library is a challenging yet rewarding role. You are about to take on the responsibility of developing and nurturing inquisitive young minds, preparing them to become open-minded adults with an appreciation for what a library has to offer.

No longer is the library just a room with books. Librarians do not read books all day — they don’t have the time. And walking around shushing users is no longer the done thing.

Today, a library is a place for both research and leisure. It is where reliable information and works of imagination can be freely accessed and enjoyed by all. Library users have the opportunity to encounter diverse ideas and cultures all in one place. For school students, many of whom have limited chance to travel, the school library provides a safe environment from which they can have a window to the rest of the world and the wider society.

As the person who runs the school library, you are here to inspire students; equip them with the skills for research and enquiry; help them develop and sustain love and enjoyment of reading and learning; and teach them to evaluate and use information in all forms, formats and mediums. By the time your students graduate, they should have the information literacy skills needed to locate relevant and reliable information in order to be effective problem solvers and high functioning creators.

First steps

Have a look at your library. What is the current state of your library?

  1. The collection – is the content relevant? Are the resources being used?
  2. The literacy programs – are there any? If so, are they effective? Are the students engaged?

The best way to gauge this is to obtain feedback from your school community. Talk to the teachers and students. Ask them how they view and use the library. Perhaps even run a survey.

You may find that your library is well used and considered to be a valued space. In that case, excellent. The question then becomes: how do you maintain and improve the library’s sense of value within the school community so that it continues to remain well regarded?

Alternatively, you may find that your library is underused and undervalued. In this case, it is even more critical to seek insight from teaching staff and students to learn where the library has come up short. Ascertain what should be done to bring your library closer to where it needs to be. The goal here is to work towards making the library a tool that contributes to student learning and teacher success, as well as providing a space that members of the school community can use for enjoyment.

Overall, the main activities that create value for your school library are collection curation, literacy programs, support for teaching staff and students, and advocacy for your library by engaging with school management and administrators, parents, and the wider school/school library community.

Things to consider

Collection management policy

When you first assess your library, the collection should be part of this evaluation. It will be helpful to check whether the library collection is based upon the curriculum and needs of your school; and whether it reflects the interests of the school community as well as the wider educational community. The library collection should show diversity, with works created domestically and internationally, and covering a wide range of themes. A collection development policy documents how the library will meet these objectives. We will discuss this further in lesson 2.

Teenager looking at books on library shelf

Resources

In addition to books, resources can come in a variety of formats including digital media such as websites, apps and ebooks. Each user’s need is different and a variety of formats ensures that the wider audience is catered for.

Tip: Include educational websites as part of your collection! They do not take up physical space and the only cost involved is the time taken to add them to your library catalogue. Depending on your library catalogue, resources like this can even be accessed 24/7.

Not to be forgotten, your school library is also a place for enjoyment and so materials for that purpose should be included in the collection. Your students should be consulted for this as they make up the majority of your users. While you perform research into their interests and culture, it is also a great opportunity to improve their engagement with the library.

Engaging spaces

Have a look at how your resources are placed in the library. Think about the steps your users would take to locate a resource and assess whether the current layout flows naturally in accordance with these steps. At the same time, your school library should also feel inviting. Its physical space and appearance should attract your users to visit even when they have no particular need. Ideally, there should be areas for the collection, quiet study and research, group study, informal reading, instruction, and library administration. Take into consideration lighting and display. Of course, drastically changing the layout of your library when you are just starting out is not really recommended, however it is possible to make small adjustments here and there with these requirements in mind. Sometimes one colourful display can make all the difference.

Two children playing chess in school library

Activity

Create a survey for teachers and students to complete. This is a great way to gauge how the school library is currently viewed. Examples of questions to ask include:

  • How often do you come into the library in a week? Exclude the times when you come in because lessons are held here.
  • Do you usually find what you’re looking for when you come into the library?
  • What do you usually do when you come into the library?
  • Complete this sentence: The library is__________________.
  • What improvements would you like to see in the library?

Conclusion

So, now we’ve covered the basics of a school library, and how it can become a valuable space for educators and students — if it isn’t already. We’ve provided you with some simple steps you can take right now, to assess your library, and start making those small changes to bring your library closer to where it needs to be. In lesson 2, we’ll look at your collection and how you can create a collection policy. We’ll also discuss sourcing and acquisition, weeding, and stocktake.

References

Further reading

  • Schultz-Jones, B. & Oberg, D. 2015. Global action on school library guidelines. The Hague, Netherlands: De Gruyter Saur.School library guidelines (n.d.) Hobart: Libraries Tasmania. https://libraries.tas.gov.au/school-library/Pages/school.aspx

SCIS short course: Managing your library collection and catalogue.

Hello all and welcome to the SCIS Blog for 2020! We wanted to start the year with something a little different. The amazing SCIS team have created a free short course for new school library staff (and for those that would like a refresher). Focusing on collection curation and cataloguing, we will help you get started in organising the resource offerings of your library.

Each week for the next seven weeks, we will create a blog post that contains a lesson in managing your library collection and catalogue. To receive the email simply subscribe to the SCIS Blog.

In the meantime, here is a rundown of what to expect throughout this course.

Lesson 1: Help! I’ve taken over a library. What do I do now?

We’ll start slow, and take you through the basics of a library: what it is, and what it can be. Ideal for those of you who have just stepped into the role of librarian. But this is also a nice refresher, and a chance for those of you who have been working in a library for some time, to take a step back from your current practices and think about the basics.

Lesson 2: Managing your collection – what does your library collect?

Now we start to get into the juicy stuff! This lesson looks at the library collection policy and why it is so important. We cover sourcing and acquisition — building up your library collection — along with the necessary evils, otherwise known as weeding and stocktake.

Lesson 3: Introduction to cataloguing – unleash your library collection

This lesson dives right into the heart of cataloguing. We discuss why we need to follow cataloguing standards, what standards you’ll need to be aware of, and how to make standards work for your library.

Lesson 4: Descriptive cataloguing – describing your collection and finding resource information

We’ll start looking at the ways you can describe your library collection, and where you can find information on a particular item. We also look at how most people perform searches, and the important fields to consider when cataloguing.

Lesson 5: Subject cataloguing and authority files – why it is important to keep control

This lesson uncovers the benefits of controlled vocabularies. We also delve into authorities and authority files: what they are, and how they can make your collection more discoverable to staff and students.

Lesson 6: Organising your collection –classification, Dewey and call numbers

Here is where you can start to make your library work for you and your school. We discuss the importance of classification, describe the difference between full and abridged Dewey, and provide an overview of call numbers and genre classification.

Lesson 7: The value of your library collection – now that I’ve set up my library, what’s next?

Our final lesson ties everything together. We’ll look at how to evaluate and advocate your library, suggest activities for engagement and networking, and touch on creating efficiencies. In a nutshell, we discuss how you can make the most of your time to serve the needs of your school.

We are so pleased to take you on this journey!

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.

SCIS NZ workshops

SCIS is pleased to offer the following workshops in New Zealand in July 2011

Click here to register for SCIS NZ workshops

North Island NZWELLINGTON, TUESDAY 12 JULY 2011 9.00am-12.00pm

National Library NZ Training room, 77 Thorndon Quay

HAMILTON: WEDNESDAY 13 JULY 2011 9.00am-12.30pm
Melville High School, 6 Collins Road

AUCKLAND: FRIDAY 15 JULY 2011 9.00am-12.30pm
St Cuthbert’s College, 122 Market Road, Epsom, AUCKLAND – NOTE venue change

SESSION CONTENT

This half day workshop is open to all school library staff and provides an understanding of how SCIS cataloguing services can assist to provide a more effective library service to your school community. Participants will enhance their understanding of SCIS as a database of consistent catalogue records for education resources created to agreed standards.

Learn how to customise your SCIS profile, and make the most of book cover images, catalogue records for digital resources, educational websites and e-books.

Find out how to use SCIS Authority Files to save time and enhance your library catalogue.

Presenter: Pru Mitchell, SCIS Subscriber Support Coordinator

Many thanks to the National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools for assistance in organisation of venues for SCIS workshops.

How do I register?

You will need to complete the online registration form in order to reserve a place at the workshop.

If your school requires other documentation beyond a printout of the online form, please register online and then email scisinfo@esa.edu.au with what you require.

SCIS will invoice participants after the workshop. The cost per registration will be AUD$50.00.

What about the South Island?

We look forward to planning workshops for other regions in 2012, so even if you are unable to attend the July 2011 sessions, you are invited to indicate your interest in future workshops on the online registration form so we can contact you when these are organised.

SCIS workshops

In the 2010 SCIS Survey there were requests for access to SCIS training from a significant number of respondents. In response to this, the SCIS Subscriber Support Coordinator role has been designed to provide increased training and professional learning opportunities in the use of SCIS and its value to the school library community.

The following half day seminars are available to Victorian library staff in Term 2, 2011.

‘Making the Most of SCIS’ workshops for Term 2, 2011

Register online for either workshop at: http://tinyurl.com/scisPDVIC

Cost $85 per person includes materials and light catering. Payment on invoice

This training will highlight how SCIS cataloguing services can assist staff to provide a more effective library service to their school community. Learn how you can customise your SCIS profile to optimise your use of SCIS. Make the most of book cover images, and catalogue records for learning objects, video files, educational websites and e-books. Find out how to use SCIS Authority Files to save time and to enhance your library catalogue.

If you would like to discuss hosting a SCIS training seminar in your region, please contact Pru Mitchell.

PD Planning 2011

Last Friday the Australian National Professional Standards for Teachers were released with some strong statements about professional engagement and professional learning. National Professional Standards for Teachers

Standard 6 – Engage in professional learning
Standard 7 – Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

The timing of the standards publication is apt, as school library professional associations and other professional learning providers in Australian and New Zealand are getting started on their professional learning calendars for the year. Here are some of the upcoming highlights which SCIS is involved in.

SCIS Seminar, ACT, Friday 18 February 2011

SCIS is running its first ‘Making the Most of SCIS’ training seminar for 2011 at the Centre for Teaching and Learning in Canberra, on Friday 18 February.

This training will highlight how SCIS cataloguing services can assist staff to provide a more effective library service to their school community. Learn how you can customise your SCIS profile to optimise your use of SCIS. Make the most of book cover images, catalogue records for TLF learning objects, Clickview files, educational websites and e-books. Find out how to use SCIS Authority Files to save you time and enhance your library catalogue.

It’s not too late to register your interest at: www.surveymonkey.com/SCISACT

ASLA ACT AGM and PD Day, Canberra Grammar School, Saturday 19 February 2011

Pru Mitchell, SCIS Subscriber Coordinator will be presenting a session on ‘Rethinking the OPAC’ at the ASLA ACT conference on Saturday 19 February at Canberra Grammar School, Red Hill. The programme includes:

Lyn Hay, Charles Sturt University:  The Future of School Library: A State of Emergency?
Delia Browne, Copyright Advisory Group: Copyright Issues for Educators in the Digital World
Sue Martin, Burgmann Anglican College: Glogster workshops
Paul MacDonald, Beecroft Childrens Bookshop: The Place of the Book in the E-Book Age

Register for this conference at: www.aslaact.org.au

AISWA Resource discovery and the OPAC, Scotch College WA, Wednesday 23 February 2011

This workshop is being offered through the Association of Independent Schools of WA (AISWA) on Wednesday 23 February at 4.00pm, Bunning Resource Centre, Scotch College Swanbourne.
Register at: www.aiswalibraries.org.au

Planning your PD for 2011

The edna Library events calendar lists further opportunities for school library staff planning their professional learning and professional engagement for the year.

Library Lovers Day Happy Library Lovers Day!

Connections 74 hits the streets and online!

Courtesy of  flickrCC: www.flickr.com/photos/96741530@N00/4136024835

The current issue of Connections has a bumper crop of original articles! 

If you want to share information of relevance and importance to school libraries, please contact the Connections Editor.

Image courtesy of flickrCC.

 

SCIS is on the road again – in Vic., S.A. and N.Z.

South Australian outback

In the next two months SCIS staff will be running a series of training sessions on how to get the most out of your SCIS subscription. The training will highlight how SCIS cataloguing products can be used to provide a more effective library service, including how you can customise your SCIS profile to optimise your use of SCIS, information about book cover images,  special order files for educational websites and TLF learning objects, and how the use of SCIS Authority Files has the potential to save you time by inserting references into your library catalogue.

The training sessions will be kicking off this Monday at the SLAV Shared learning conference for library technicians and assistants, with our SCIS manager Leonie Bourke conducting one of the first concurrent sessions of the day.  SCIS will also have a trade stall at the conference, with our Marketing Manager Tricia Nathan and Customer Support Officer Elaine Jeffries present to answer any queries you may have about SCIS.

In May, we will also be running a series of training sessions for New Zealand/Aotearoa, conducted by one of our excellent catalaguing staff, Bruce Moir, who is based in Dunedin. Bruce’s background includes secondary school teaching, working in Children’s and Young People’s Services at Dunedin Public Library, Mosgiel Library Manager, and working as a Library Adviser at National Library where he was on project teams which promoted the use of SCIS.

SCIS cataloguer Bruce Moir
SCIS cataloguer Bruce Moir

Bruce will be conducting sessions on the following dates and locations:

6 May  –  Auckland
7 May  –  Hamilton
13, 14 May –  Christchurch
19 May –  Dunedin
26 May –  Wellington
27 May –  Palmerston North

In the same month, Tricia Nathan will be running SCIS training sessions for South Australian schools.  Although most of the SA sessions are fully booked out, some sessions still have vacancies, so if you are interested in attending please don’t hesitate to contact us at SCIS to see if we can squeeze you in! The SA dates and locations are as follows:

18, 19, 20, 21 May – Adelaide
26 May – Mount Gambier
28 May – Whyalla

The lovely image of the South Australian outback is from Flickr Creative Commons, contributed by intrepid traveller Prince Roy. http://www.flickr.com/photos/princeroy/ / CC BY 2.0

Congratulations to South Australian public schools!

You now have free access to SCIS Authority Files and SCIS Subject Headings as well as ongoing access to SCISWeb for the next 3 years (2010-2012), as a result of an agreement made by The Department of Education and Children’s Services with SCIS.

For those schools who are unfamiliar with the SCIS service, or those who have used SCIS in the past but would like to learn more about our services, we will soon be running a series of training sessions “Making the most of SCIS”  for South Australian schools. Those who responded to our earlier online survey regarding the training sessions will be contacted directly but you will also be able to register online via SCISWeb.  Once dates are confirmed, we will also be posting more information here on the blog, so keep watching this space!