Part A: Overview
Role of the Library
The overarching role of the P* Library is to provide outstanding library services for M* School’s, W* and SS* community. M** is a multi-campus Anglican school educating over 1,800 students from Prep to Year 12. The P* Library is located within the N* P* Centre for L* and L* (CLL). The CLL, designed to be the learning hub of the school, links the middle and senior school campuses. W (Years 7 – 8) and SS (Years 9 – 12) community comprises of over 1,120 boys (boarders and day students) and 160 plus teaching and ancillary staff.
The purpose of the P* Library is outlined in the Library Mission Statement (M* School, 2013). This document underpins the provision of library services.
In summary, the library aims to provide the following fundamental services:
To support teaching and learning by providing a welcoming, flexible learning environment.
The library’s physical space is well-designed to accommodate multi-use and flexible learning. Spread across three levels of the CLL, the library provides a range of reading, learning and study zones. There are two seminar rooms, four open plan teaching and study areas, three private study pods, a theatrette and many small study areas interspersed between the print stacks. These areas suit a variety of user needs, providing areas for group work, individual research, quiet reading or class lectures and presentations. Spaces that require bookings are managed by library staff.
The furniture is predominantly flexible. All tables and seating can be arranged to accommodate small or large groups. The reading zones provide moveable, modular couches to encourage reading in small or large groups.
All areas in the CLL, including the P* Library, provide secure Wi-Fi access to the school network and internet in order to support the BYO device mobile learning environment. Many charging points are located throughout the building.
To nurture and encourage the importance of reading for pleasure and for information.
A major service provided by the library team is to develop, deliver and promote a range of reading programs and activities throughout the school. Library staff organise and manage events to support wider reading in the school community, for example, book clubs, house competitions, guest speakers, visiting authors, Children’s Book Week activities. The library provides extensive fiction, magazine and non-fiction print collections to support recreational reading and curriculum driven reading programs.
To collaborate with teachers to develop and implement a comprehensive information literacy program.
Another important service provided by the library is that of fostering an information literate M** community. Library staff liaise with heads of faculty, directors of curriculum and teachers to develop & deliver information literacy programs across the school.
To provide a library collection which supports staff and student needs for curriculum and recreational use.
P* library provides a strong, well balanced collection of library resources. It offers rich and diverse multi-format collections which pertinently support curriculum, reading programs and recreational use. The library holds a large print collection which comprises reference, non-fiction, fiction, picture books, graphic novels, magazines, and teacher reference resources. There is also a substantial rare book collection. The library’s non-print collections include audiobooks and DVD’s. Library services extend the range of print and non-print collections by offering an extensive digital collection of eResources which include: a digitised video library (Clickview), eBooks, online encyclopedias and a range of subscription databases and website directories.
Access provided to the collections
P* library provides both physical and virtual access to its collections. The library is open before, during and after school for students and staff to access the permanent collections. Library staff are on hand to assist with the location and retrieval of resources including reservations and restricted collections. 70% of the print collection is stored in a compactus at the lower level of the CLL. Items stored here can only be retrieved by library staff.
P* Library sits at the forefront of new learning technologies within the school. The library is continually working to improve access to its resources and recently upgraded to the latest web based version of its Library Management System (LMS) and Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). The upgrade has improved the functionality of the OPAC. A federated search option provides catalogue access to encyclopedia articles, journal articles, databases and digitised videos.
The Library has recently developed a new library website. Students and staff can access the website, at school or from home, via a link on the school portal. The library home page provides access to the catalogue as well as links to an eBook library, a digitised video library, website directories, subscription databases and research guides.
Staffing and Management
The P* Library functions extremely well due to a well-appointed, well-structured team of qualified and experienced professionals. The library is managed by the Director of Library Services (DLS). The DLS reports to the Director of Teaching and Learning at MGS. The DLS oversees general operations of the library, manages the library budget, is a member of the Curriculum Board, liaises with heads of faculty and ICT Department and supervises library staff. The DLS is assisted by the Deputy Director of Library Services. Both the DLS and the deputy are qualified teacher librarians. There is one other qualified Teacher Librarian (TL) on the library team. All the teacher librarians at M** are required to teach at least one other method for year levels 7 – 9 and so, teach Geography, History and English. Four qualified Library Technicians are responsible for the daily operations of the library and its systems.
Part B: User Needs
As the central learning hub of the school, the P Library is working exceptionally well to support teaching and learning at M**. The library effectively serves the technological, educational and recreational needs of the M** community through excellent services, collections and programs.
The library provides outstanding services to students and staff. Consequently the physical space, collections and resources are very well used. Up to 15 classes use the library each day. Subject disciplines using the library and resources range from English, History, Humanities, LOTE and Design Technology. Teacher librarians are currently working to develop stronger curriculum connections with Maths & Science departments.
M** has a strong technology focus. Information Communication Technologies are considered a vital part of the student’s education at M** and it is expected that these tools are integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. M** has established a mobile computing programme which applies to students in Year 5 and above. Students from Years 9 to 12 are required to have their own devices as part of the school’s BYOD program. Years 7 & 8 currently in transition from notebook computers to personal tablet devices, including iPads. As mentioned in the overview, library services sits at the forefront of new learning technologies within the school. Knowledgeable and proficient library staff develop and maintain systems to assist with the retrieval of information and resources to sustain M** student’s mobile learning needs. Library technicians manage the online systems provided by the library and actively work to improve the functionality of Clickview, the OPAC and the library website by regularly attending professional training sessions and communicating with system providers and ICT staff. The DLS meets weekly with the Director of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to discuss ICT issues associated with library use, technology, services and systems. Teacher librarians are proficient in the use of teaching and display technology e.g., interactive whiteboards, Apple TV, iPads etc. TL’s at M** assist students and staff with access to online resources by being available at lunch and recess every day. TL’s continually work to improve student access to P Library resources (physical, digital and electronic). TL’s collaborate with teachers in class or in the library, demonstrating and instructing how to access information and resources using online library systems and technology. TL’s are currently developing online research guides using LibGuides, an online content management system, to facilitate student access to pertinent information resources that support curriculum and learning at M**.
P* Library does exceptionally well to support staff and students with programs and collections that meet curriculum and recreational needs. M** has recently instigated a whole school Wide Reading Programme, designed to instil in students a life-long understanding of the value of reading. This program is greatly supported by the library and is an excellent example of teacher librarians collaborating with heads of faculty and English teachers to develop collections and deliver reading opportunities and projects to support the program. W and Year 9 students are timetabled in the library, one English period per cycle, for silent reading. Library staff work independently or with teachers to create and implement strategies, projects and activities that encourage wider reading and response to literature. Fiction and recreational reading collections are expanded to support the program. Library staff recently overhauled the P* fiction collection, updating series, replacing old, purchasing new and multiple copies of popular titles in order to engage and satisfy all students. The library organises and hosts events to support the program. Visiting authors, guest speakers, House competitions e.g., Readers Cup, Book Clubs (voluntary/ student led) and Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge are all offered by the library and are enthusiastically entered and attended by students.
Part C: Activities & Programs
Whilst on my placement at M** I was able to observe and be involved in a wide range of library activities and programs. Over the 10 days, I was scheduled time with all library staff. This provided a range of opportunities to experience and participate in many of the daily activities of the library and learn more about school library services.
Most of my time was spent with the Director of Library Services, discussing and observing the varied nature of her role, participating in activities inside and outside the realm of library. The DLS is actively involved in many areas of the M** community. Overseeing & managing three MGS libraries is the core function of the DLS. Additional to this, the DLS is a member of the Curriculum Board, co-editor of the school magazine, House Tutor and Year 9 Geography teacher. During my time spent with the DLS I attended House meetings, House tutor groups & associated co-curricular activities (debating, theatre sports and a football match), I also sat in on meetings with ICT staff and magazine editors. I observed Year 9 Geography classes and was able to view curriculum documents, resources and assessment tasks. I participated in lunch & recess library supervision and tram duty. Through these activities I got to meet many students and staff. I learnt that being involved in activities outside the library, is an important way to get to know the organisation as a whole, to engender collegial respect and form positive relationships and connections with all members of the school community.
A significant portion of my placement at M** was spent with teacher librarians. I was able to observe and be involved in the Years 7 – 9 Wide Reading Programme, Year 8 History Guided Inquiry Project, Prep to Year 6 library activities and other research classes held in the library. These sessions were invaluable to my current studies. Being involved in these activities showed me how effective, rewarding and meaningful collaborative teaching can be. In guided inquiry or research classes, teacher librarians at M** work with curriculum co-ordinators and teachers to plan, design & implement projects that imbed information literacy, research and referencing skills. I observed teacher librarians working with students, one to one, monitoring their progress through the different phases of inquiry, intervening where necessary to help students formulate questions, locate & evaluate information. During years 7 – 8 wide reading sessions, the teacher librarians listen to students read, discuss their reading, recommend other reading and report their observations to the teacher. With this shared information, teacher librarians and teachers are well-informed about their student’s literacy levels, achievements and outcomes. Also, teacher librarians are getting to know and develop congenial relationships with their students. Experiencing these activities and strategies has inspired me to endorse and develop collaborative projects like these in my future career as a teacher librarian.
During my placement I spent a number of hours with each of the library technicians, observing and assisting with daily procedures e.g., desk duties, library bookings, serials management and cataloguing. I observed a lot of time spent on catalogue maintenance and collection work since the recent system upgrade. I realised the impact of such professional knowledge on the efficacy of library systems and services. Library staff are continually working to improve the way in which their resources and collections are organised and accessed by their users. Teacher librarians use their knowledge of curriculum, collections and online resources to develop comprehensive reading lists, research guides and pathfinders in order to help students independently search for information and resources. Using and developing LibGuides gave me the opportunity to discover the significance of targeted content management and how, as a library service, this can promote and enable the use of resources as well as enhance student learning.
Part D: Reflection
Having the opportunity to visit the library at M** has been an invaluable experience. The placement has consolidated my knowledge and ideas on how, and what is required, for an effective school library to function. The school library, its staff and its programs need to be valued and understood by the school community, particularly by school leadership, if it is to function at the highest level. It is important that library staff are well-trained, knowledgeable professionals, capable of delivering the library services required by a school community. Finally, it is crucial that library staff be involved in, and get to know, the wider school community in order to foster collegiality and promote collaborative relationships and partnerships.
The library and its staff are highly valued and supported by staff and leadership at M**. This became quite evident during my time spent with the DLS in P* Library and the TL’s at GH (junior school campus). I learnt from the DLS, that many changes have influenced library services and school support since her appointment.
First of all, negligible policy documentation existed for the library. The DLS began a team project to create official documentation regarding M** Library services. Procedures Guidelines and Policy Guidelines were written to include position descriptions for library staff, Collection Development Policy, Information Literacy Policy, Library & Information Services in Schools Policy, as well as links to affiliated Associations Manifesto’s and Statements. A Library Mission Statement was written and made available on the school network and summarised on the library website. The Library’s vision, mission and services were made clear and available to all stakeholders in the school. Discussion with the DLS regarding this documentation highlighted to me the significance of policy development in terms of validation and rationalisation of library staffing, budget and services, particular when change is required.
Furthermore, the DLS established a number of powerful strategies to foster communication, teamwork and connections for library staff and the wider school community. As a member of the school curriculum board the DLS keeps abreast of current curriculum and pedagogy ensuring that library services and programs are well-informed and relevant. Regularly scheduled meetings with library staff and the Director of ICT promote communication and action to ensure successful delivery of library services. Teacher librarians and library staff are strongly encouraged to join MGS staff in the common room (at lunch or recess), to participate in House activities or to attend co-curricular events with staff in order to develop collegial rapport. I observed the positive impact of these approaches in a variety of situations at M** and hope to adopt similar collaborative and uniting strategies in my future role as a teacher librarian.