La Trobe University Library
The visit to La Trobe University Library was valuable for many reasons but the highlight was listening to the library manager talk about the recent restructure, why it was necessary and the impact it was having on library services. During my studies I have learnt that one of the most important roles of the teacher librarian is outreach and advocacy; that it is important for TL’s to step out of the library and form relationships with leadership, faculties and teaching staff in order to understand and then demonstrate how your services can be of value to the school. La Trobe Library’s restructure came from the need to re-evaluate what the library does for the university. It was inspiring to hear that the library decided to no longer stand alone as an organisation within the university; that it would aim to align more diligently with the university and community, work closely with staff and students, form stronger partnerships with faculties and provide services where students are – online. Traditionally, in school libraries, it was expected that students and staff come to you. Now, many teacher librarians are going out into the school community; they are going into classrooms to team teach, attending staff meetings and curriculum planning sessions, becoming members of curriculum committees, participating in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, offering systems, digital & information literacy & technology training, collaborating and forming partnerships – the list goes on. It was extremely valuable to see how the university library team were using similar strategies to engage with the community and demonstrate the value of their services. I learned about the significance of an effective communication strategy, the importance of student centred help services, about the value of providing diverse learning spaces and the library’s significant plans & contributions to online learning.
As a future teacher librarian I wondered what knowledge a visit to RACV Library would bring. What would I learn from a private, specialised library that I could apply to a school library? The answer was collection development and services. Like school library collections, private library collections are built to specifically meet organisation and client needs, they are quite distinctive and patron driven. The RACV Library collection caters for a diverse range of interests for its 30,000 + members, yet the collection is very much tailored to meet the needs of an older, more traditional demographic; patrons who want to borrow or spend time reading printed materials such as newspapers and magazines, coffee table books on travel, motoring and gardening or view tourism maps. It was useful to see how the collection was organised for ease of use, particularly where the same Dewey number used. In the sports car section, the labelling was tailored to identify different models of cars for quick identification (e.g., MERC 622.2, FER 622.2) a strategy I might consider using when organising future school library collections. I thought it interesting that the value added services provided to patrons by the RACV Library were all about keeping the profile up in the club. How similar it is that school libraries need to provide these extra services in schools. RACV Library staff organise events, excursions, book & travel groups; they offer technology & online training, information literacy and research programs all for the purpose of value adding. I realised how important these services are and how, particularly in schools, they support and endorse the role of the library.