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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Library Report

I wrote this report in November as the school year drew to a close and as a preparation to set the direction for next year, which is already here. I am thinking of how to get things going again when we return to school in a couple of weeks time so it was good to bring this out and refresh my mind and to refocus.

Library Activity Report
For the year 2006
Upon my arrival in the library I could see that there was much to do. There were so many needs that some priorities needed to be set. Initial steps were the physical aspects of putting the collection away in an orderly fashion, securing the database, and establishing a budget. There was a range of perceptions from staff about what the teacher-librarian could do. The way that I could see to overcome some of these difficulties was to attend to the most pressing physical needs first; work on staff perceptions and do what libraries and teacher-librarians are supposed to do – resource well, provide the best access to resources, assist where possible but to keep the core business – information literacy - in focus. After this first year there is much to report on.
General library operations
The library is now open and active for 3 days per week to provide access and assistance for individual needs before during and after school. The time allocated to the teacher-librarian is equally divided between administrative duties and teaching. Assistance with lesson planning and resources and general liaison with teachers occurs in the administrative time. There is a structured timetable with each class including preschool visiting the library every week. There is a mix of involvement from class teachers; where some teachers actively seek assistance and involvement from the teacher-librarian in their unit planning for the delivery of research, information literacy skills and literacy enhancement. Some teachers do not involve themselves with the lessons and find other tasks to complete in their classes’ library time. Despite differing levels of involvement, the staff seem to be supportive of the library program.

Library program – developing information literacy
During the year I changed the day I use for the management of the library to Tuesday as this is the day that staff have their non-contact time. By having the Wednesday in between it gives me an opportunity to chase up any resources that may be required; for instance, resources from other schools, the Council library, sourcing internet sites and adding them to the intranet and any lesson preparation that is specific to the requirements of teachers’ lessons. As the year has progressed it has been easier to find out what teachers are doing with their classes, especially now that Tony has formalized their planning and integrated units. There are no specific outcomes for information literacy, so it is a matter of seeing what is in the unit plans and slotting in the skills the students need to accomplish the tasks. Earlier involvement in the unit planning would be of assistance so that the ICT outcomes and the information literacy skills are better aligned.
The promotion of reading, literacy and the diversity of books has been my focus when the class programs did not lend themselves to co-operative teaching opportunities.
The structured timetable does not allow flexibility without negotiation. Once the time is set in the timetable, teachers are reluctant to relinquish that time even though they do not need my input to finish the activities. Some of the classes do not require my input for the whole term, especially for some of the ¾ hour blocks. Other classes would have benefited from more time and it was a struggle with some classes to complete some of the activities that we set out to do.
Library management system
ALICE Solo is used to manage the library and reading resources. This is a stand alone library system and is operated on a single workstation. At the beginning of 2006 the library workstation was operating with Windows 98, was completely standalone, with no secure logon and no backup. To update the workstation Windows XP Pro was installed and the workstation was connected to the administration server, allowing for restricted logons and regular backups. ALICE Solo does not have different levels of access, allowing only the Master logon. The database or inquiry is not able to be viewed on other computers in the school, so all patrons must ask the library staff to perform searches and queries on their behalf. Over time, the library management system has had multiple administrators and assistants entering data. Many inconsistencies are evident in the parameters, settings and in particular the creative subject headings.
Providing full time support with part time staffing
No matter what the staffing allocation for the library, staff and students need access to resources and learning support every school day. The staff have no restrictions placed on them in the amount of resources they can borrow or in their access to the library. Although they do not have access to the library database, the collection is small, well organised and in the process of being better signed. The staff only need to browse the collection for their needs and write down the barcode of any resources they take from the collections. They are not required to reshelve resources. Students have access to the library before, during and after school on any of the three days that library staff are on site.
A parent assists with reshelving on some Tuesday mornings. This is helpful as it is the first operational day after all the children have borrowed (previous Thursday) and the returns trolley is quite full.
Online and offsite support
To enhance online support, the workstations in the computer lab were rebuilt with Windows XP and linked using a Workgroup arrangement, with one of the workstations having Internet Information Services (IIS) installed for the easy management of a small intranet. Separate logons were created for the students, staff and administrators and a naming and saving convention for files was established. The new intranet supports the students by providing a list of sites for reference and links for the topics covered in their class learning for the term. The students have been instructed in the use of the Council Library databases as another information source, and how to use the library database to place holds and request items. The Council also provides a Mobile Library van visiting the school every fortnight. Most of the students have borrower cards and visit the van class by class during the day. Special emphasis has been placed with the year 7 students to use the Council library services. They have been introduced to the Teenage Fiction section of the Mobile Van and a list of suitable authors was given to Lyle and he has put these into the van’s collection. A visit to the main Strathpine library was to acquaint the year 7s with the physical aspects of the Council collection and to raise their awareness of the services available to them for study and research as they go into high school. Having access to the collection and databases of the Council greatly enhances the school’s access to quality resources.

These actions – trusting staff to have access to resources, providing online resources, skilling students in the use of the Council databases and promotion of the Mobile Library and Council library services are early measures to provide greater support for staff and students.
Two Book Fairs were conducted during the year which were well supported by parents. The first one gained $600 and the second $200 worth of books for the library; and while this is one of the benefits, it also provides an opportunity to meet the parents and to encourage reading.

Book Club is totally managed by NW (library teacher aide), and by taking a little bit of time she is able to maximise the rewards and free picks that the scheme provides. This is a benefit to the library which can be overlooked. While I have not kept tally of the free resources we were able to accumulate in this way the figure in estimation would be over $1000. The organisation of Book Club takes at least a day to collate orders and organise distribution for each book Club order.
Library Promotions
The big event for most libraries is Book Week. It is an opportunity to promote the enjoyment of reading and promote literacy. We were able to see some of the short-listed books but were restricted to those that came with Australian Standing Orders.
The Council Library ran a free author talk during Book Week and I was able to visit the library to see an entertaining talk by NIKE BUCKLEY. This was an underutilised opportunity by most of the schools as Strathpine SS was the only local school to send classes. A visit to the Council library during Book Week by some classes next year is something we could include as a class excursion.
New displays have been added to the small noticeboard at the library entrance, this is as materials become available suitable for display. NW put together a small display on the mobile trolley to promote series such as Deltora to the students. Every week books displays are changed on the mobile trolleys and tables. We display a mix of old and new resources and promote books targeted at students interests. Regular Show and Tell sessions are held with the classes, to show new resources and discuss what the children have read that they found interesting.
The school open day was an opportunity to promote the library, its books and talk about the importance of early literacy, especially in picture books.
Newsletter articles have been added when the need has arisen to raise awareness and promote library activities and fundraising.
The Story writing competition saw some good results from our students and I am sure this is something we can build on in the future.
Library Circulations – Loans
The students have been encouraged to borrow during the holidays; they can take additional books during the holiday times. The exception is the Christmas break, but the children have been encouraged to use the Mobile van for their Christmas reading.
The children are good library users, retuning and borrowing regularly. Very few resources have been lost and replaced. Parents have been most willing to replace any damaged or lost items.
Even though teachers at this point have many books overdue, this is in part a left over from last year. Teachers now have greater loan privileges and extended times for borrowing so that next year this should almost eliminate the overdues and restrictions placed on teacher borrowing.
Loan Statistics
Most books borrowed for the year goes to EL (student in year 3) with 61 books, followed by LD (student in year 3) with 40 books. In general the lower school students borrow more items from the school library than the upper school students.
Borrowings for the year totaled 6423 items.
A school library needs to provide and maintain a collection which is relevant to the needs of the staff and students. We ask the students what they want and take note of the most popular books and borrowing trends; by having awareness or our patrons’ needs we have been working towards providing the resources that they need. In working with teachers we can resource their teaching needs when funds allow and resources become available.
The Junior Fiction, Fiction, Teachers’ Reference and Reference have been culled quite extensively. Catalogue entries have been amended to better reflect the users’ needs and our collection. Greater consistency of data entry has been established across these areas.
The Non fiction has had a preliminary cull, but there is still much to do in Non-Fiction in regard to cataloguing, adding subject headings and aligning the Dewey numbers more appropriately.
In liaison with NG (class teacher responsible for literacy budget) we have begun to add non fiction text for research. These books have lower reading ages, good layouts with visual information and also provide good examples of the text types. These have the added benefit of providing an example that teachers can draw upon for a model of the text type or genre.
The Prep allowance was able to provide some library resources suitable for early years learning.
The SPAR resources and items in the Learning Support collection were processed and catalogued early in the year.
Appendix 2 (Not included in this blog posting) provides a breakdown on the age of the collection. Only 29% of the total collection (11429 resources) has a publication date after 1996.
(This figure, although taken from the Library management system is not a true reflection of the collection. Items we have culled have been removed from the shelves, but are still in the system, so the collection size is actually smaller and the percentage of items older than 1996 would be less.)
Cataloguing the collection
Many new resources were added to the collection this year. This is a combination of left over, previously uncatalogued resources and new resources. Many items have been added that had not been catalogued in the past. The addition of the Reading Collection data is nearing completion.
Charts, Posters, Video cassettes and any resources remaining in classrooms are still to be catalogued.
Update on Reading Collection – NW has managed most of the cataloguing of the reading collection. In 2005, 1149items were added and in 2006, 3110 items were added. The total for the Reading collection at this point is 5886 items.
The Library Collection has the following breakdown –
• Curriculum 104 items
• Reference 179 items (this includes the class sets of Atlases etc)
• Teacher Reference 2989 items
• General collection 2972 items

The number of resources catalogued this year was 4784 items, with an approximate total value of $6163.68. For the breakdown of these resources see Appendix 1. (Costing is approximate as some old resources did not have costs assigned to them).
Special Boxes have been created where resources are grouped together for easy access for teachers. The topics for these boxes include – Local Area Study, Sets for Drama and Plays, Christmas resources, Anzac Day and Reconciliation. Recent Special Boxes have been created catering for Text Types and Information Skills.
Teacher Reference has been largely re-catalogued to provide better and more logical groupings of resources. Signs have been made, but these need improving for better accessibility.
Atlases and Dictionaries are being put together as Class Sets they come out of classrooms.
Intervention and Learning Support resources are being catalogued as they are found. These are located in the Learning Support Room and Lisa manages the borrowing of these resources.
Extended loans have been generated for teachers for curriculum materials that are not included in the Curriculum boxes. These loans are now for a whole term.
Processes for better management
Software and licences – as software licences are found they are being added to a folder for easy access.
Library mission statement – has been written and will be added to the library webpage.
Online user statement – needs to be developed and will evolve as teachers are more aware of online learning activities and how their students can develop with its use.
New Initiatives
Keeping the aims in mind of building and maintaining a relevant collection and working on the core business of information literacy, the initiatives for this year have included -
• E-Zine
• Intranet
• Subscription to Australian Standing Orders
• Story writing competition
• The library cat
• Year 7 visit to the Council Library
• Setting the direction – Mission statement
• Special boxes
• Prizes for the most books borrowed
Professional involvement
• Presentation and attendance at the SLAQ conference in Mackay, ICT day at Morayfield, MOE Information Day and MOE Morning session.
• Network meetings of the Caboolture T/L
• Organisation committee of Story writing competition for Cab_TL
• Workshops and online involvement as Learning Place Mentor
Next Steps – Library management
A trial will be undertaken to change the library database from ALICE to Libcode before the end of the year to enable the smooth changeover at the start of 2007.
The database will go online in early 2007 in conjunction with a library webpage. The webpage will include online reference materials and homework helpers. The Mission statement and a short defining statement on information literacy will be included. The items now on the school based intranet will be included on the library webpage. Updates for each term will include the weblinks that correspond to class activities.
For the school website to be managed more efficiently software and a PC will need to be accessible to all those making contributions to the website.
The provision of better signs for the location of resources will be easier to do once the cataloguing of the collection is complete.
At some time during 2007 a stocktake should be undertaken. This can be done incrementally or all at once. However it will require aide time to assist in loading the data and sorting out the problems that the stocktake will bring to light.
Next steps- Library Program
Develop closer involvement with teachers at the early planning stages of their integrated units.
There is a need for the library program and the development of information literacy skills to include more online content and involvement with the students. These strategies could include the use of blogs and wikis in a collaborative learning environment. There is a need to develop in the students information literacy that goes beyond the writing of a report, and research of the materials in the school collection. Strategies for information searching and organising need to be included in a more systematic and sequential way in the teaching/learning program. (This is something the Caboolture T/Ls wish to address in 2007).
It may not be necessary to be involved with the teaching of the whole unit with teachers, and allow time for support to be provided in resourcing the units better, or with teachers who have undertaken major projects with their classes.
Next Steps – Information Technology
Work with TM (class teacher responsible for ICT) to develop management strategies for the IT infrastructure. To some extent the MIS implementation will assist in many of these management tasks; but the management of software and licencing is something which needs to be streamlined and accountable.
Other concerns:
• Ensure teachers have the software they need for their class programs and that we do not install software that goes outside our licencing agreements.
• As the networking is developed an intranet will assist in communication and sharing of programs and work units. This intranet will have a different function to the current intranet set up for the students.
• Move to encourage more independent use of the computer lab by teachers, assisted by having the software and website links necessary for their class programs.
Next Steps – Information Sharing
Encourage the sharing of work programs and work units compiled by teachers. The library database could store these (in PDF form) or the use of a simple shared directory located on the curriculum server could be an early starting point.
The school website provides information to the community and needs a tidy up for the easier management and archiving of the information it gives.
Add a library webpage with the inclusion of a blog to the school website.
Have a student s section on the school website where the E-Zines are located and any other work the children can share.

Ms A, 29 November, 2006.


Anonymous David said...

I found your blog last week and have found it very interesting and useful.
My son has just started prep at his local school. The school has about 160 pupils. I am halfway through a Grad Dip in Info Mgt (part time) and have volunteered to help at the school library. The purpose-built library has been vacated(!) to make way for the increased prep intake (two classes) and I am currently setting up the library in its new location (the hottest room in the school of course). There is no teacher librarian and the library has previously been kept running by a semi-retired teacher who is retiring for good this year so it looks like I am it! I have yet to establish whether I will have any input in terms of budget etc. but it was good to read your report and obtain some framework to approach the year with. I think the best I can hope for is to keep it ticking over. Whilst I enjoy the school environment the thought of completing a teaching qualification after graduating this year is, at this moment in time, a bridge too far (my wife is a primary teacher and I remember the year she studied only too well...). Will probably try to get a job in a Uni library.
Anyway, congratulations on what you have achieved so far and best wishes for the future.

11:54 am  
Blogger Ms. A said...

Thankyou for your comments,
I took 2 years away from teaching to complete a Masters in Info Mgment, and although I have quals in teacher-librarianship and many years experience this new study has provided me with a better understanding of the direction I should take with the school library. I did two practicuums as part of my studies- one in a council library and the other in the digital repositories section of a university library. Both were extremely beneficial.
It is quite distressing to find that the library has such a low priority in the school, and do your best to keep things going in the time that you have.

4:01 pm  

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