Library Placement Report
Part A: Overview
Role of the library
The Graham Leo Library is physically located at the centre of the Emmanuel Christian College campus, between the junior school and senior school. Emmanuel College is a multi-denomination Prep to Year 12 private school at Carrara on the Gold Coast. It has an enrolment of approximately 1500 students. The library’s position at the centre of the school makes it readily accessible to both junior school (Prep –Year 6) and senior school (Year 7 to Year 12). The library is named after Graham Leo, who was the principal of Emmanuel College from 1996 – 2013. Graham was a huge supporter of the library and developing the reading and literacy skills of the students at the school. He could often be seen visiting the early year’s classrooms to read a book to the children. It was his goal to build a library that was the centre of the college, both physically and educationally.
The library is an impressively large building of open plan design, consisting of two levels and containing several different learning areas. It consists of a junior branch and senior branch. The two “branches” are physically separated by the circulation desk, with the junior collection to the right, and the senior collections to the left. The library plays a major role in supporting the curriculum of the school. Teachers and students use it extensively for research as well as teaching and learning. There is a large section of the library devoted to teacher resources and reference material. A booking sheet is kept at the circulation desk, and teachers are continually booking in and using the library’s rooms and resources on a daily basis, for specialist lessons and studying purposes. The library is promoted throughout the school as a learning hub, with students encouraged to use it for not only their weekly borrowing needs, but also as a social hub during out of school hours. Students are welcome to visit the library during lunch breaks to read, play chess or board games and use the computers. As an additional service for working parents within the college community, senior students are also able to make use of the library after school hours until closing time. The library also serves the broader college community in other ways. It is used for lectures and information sessions as well as for smaller group gatherings. The large open plan spaces and media rooms can easily be converted to accommodate such events. These rooms can also be “booked” by members of the school community for sessions. The library promotes itself as a community hub for the entire college community.
The library collection consists of approximately 100,000 items. It covers a wide and comprehensive range of traditional print texts and electronic resources. This includes junior fiction and picture books, junior non-fiction, junior “big books”, senior fiction, senior non-fiction, young adults and mature age, cds, dvds, cd roms, audio books, sound recordings, videos, websites, clickview and videos. Students can access digital and print resources for their studies as well as a large collection of fiction for all ages.
The junior and senior collection is displayed in separate sections of the library. The junior school library has a very aesthetically pleasing layout for young children and includes both early years and junior fiction and nonfiction. There are rows of bookshelves, carousels, and large book “bins” containing hardcover books. At specific times of the year there are displays relevant to that season, with soft toys and models depicting Easter or Christmas scenes for example, pertaining to the time of year children are studying. A large area with six round tables and chairs provides an area for students to read or study and there is a more relaxed area with bean bags where children can sit and read during breaks or lunchtimes. The junior library also includes a chess area, with two tables with chess sets and chairs.
The senior branch includes rows of nonfiction reference material, a Young Adult fiction area and a mature “M” area for the senior high school students. This area is spaciously set out with study areas set up in both the fiction and non-fiction departments including large tables for study and with computer outlets. Students in both junior and senior school are encouraged to access the LMS to locate their own resources. The library offers students access to Borrow Box, allowing them to borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks online or with the library app.
One of the major compartments of the collection is the senior student’s text books section. Students in Years 7 to 12 hire their text books from the college. The parents receive an invoice at the end of a school year for the list of texts required for the following year. The students then collect their text books at the start of the school year, and any additional texts which may be required throughout the year. There is a large section of the library dedicated to housing these texts.
The collection subject matter is patron driven and is monitored to meet the Christian ethos of the school. The head of library and senior library technician collaborate to select appropriate titles. Feedback is encouraged from parents and teachers alike, with regard to suitability of material. The deselection process is ongoing throughout the year with any outdated or irrelevant or inappropriate material weeded out as necessary.
Access provided to collections
All students are issued with a library number to facilitate borrowing and to access electronic information. All junior school classes have a weekly lesson in the library, where students are encouraged to borrow and build on their knowledge of the library collection. They are shown how to search for titles on the LMS and locate books on the shelves. Senior students also have a weekly lesson in the library, where they are assisted with research for their assignments, in addition to having access to the library in their own time.
A large part of the library’s role at the college is providing computer access for the students. The Emmanuel College philosophy is that computers and technology are an integral part of education in the 21st century and that computers and the internet provide students with valuable experience for lifelong learning. All senior students are expected to access to the computer network for educational use and students are encouraged to make use of the college’s computing facilities. It also provides students access to a global network linking universities, schools, government, community and business. Acceptable uses include class work, set assignments, research for school studies and communicating with other students, teachers and experts in relation to learning. During the school day teachers of young students guide them toward appropriate materials. Outside of school families bear the responsibility of such guidance. Any violation will result in a loss of access to computers as well as other disciplinary or legal action. The network is provided for students to develop their IT skills, conduct research and communicate with others in relation to their work. Access to network services is only given to students who agree to act responsibility and in a considerate and appropriate manner. To gain access, all students must agree to work within the school policy at all times. Students are provided with a copy of the “Computer Network and Internet Services: Students Acceptable Use policy” ensure that they work within the Student Rules and Students Acceptable Use Policy. All electronic files in all files remain the property of the college and users need to act on the basis that they can be, and where necessary will be, held accountable for their messages and stored files. The college believes that the benefits to students from access to computers and internet in the form of learning and information resources and opportunities for collaboration exceed any disadvantages. But ultimately the parents and guardians of minors are responsible for setting and conveying the standards of behaviour that their children should follow when using media and information sources.
Staffing and management
The Emmanuel College library is well staffed with an adequate team of professionals that specialise in separate roles, yet at the same time work in collaboration with each other. The team consists of eight personnel. The Head of Information Literacy has a role mostly of a management and team building nature, overseeing the entire running of the whole library. This person works in close collaboration with the College principal and College Board. The Senior Library technician works closely with the head of library and monitors the library collection and acquisitions and deselection and overseeing the text books. The College archivist who takes care of ensuring the libraries records are properly maintained and preserved in addition to assisting with locating and storing of information. There is also a study supervisor who is a qualified teacher to supervise the study groups during and after school hours and also run specialist classes. In addition to this there are four other library assistants who rotate duties including the circulation desk and day to day tasks such as shelving, cleaning, and assisting students. Staff hold a weekly formal meeting to discuss issues pertinent to the running of the library and are encouraged to communicate any issues that may arise. A work environment of close collaboration and open lines of communication between staff members help ensure the smooth running of this library.
Part B: Meeting user needs
The Emmanuel College library prides itself on being a central learning hub of the College, both in physical location and in meeting educational and social needs of the students.
In addition to the educational programs the library also runs activities such as chess club, lunchtime book club meetings, and “read a book with Dad” nights, book fairs, educational literacy programs for parents and learning supports classes. The library team also run the annual Christmas shoe box appeal. This involves students being encouraged to decorate an empty shoebox, fill it with goods and bring it to the library to be sent overseas to a child in need. In addition to the service it provides to the students, the library also services the broader school community. Parents are welcomed to the library and are encouraged to complete homework with children whilst siblings are taking part in other out of school hours activities at the college.
The library has a conference centre and media room which is used for presentations and for guest speakers. Teachers have a separate area to conduct before and after school tutoring and learning support programs are also run from the library. Lecturers from nearby universities visit regularly during the school year to conduct information sessions for high school students. Local authors and educational guest speakers are also welcomed for presentations for the whole of the school population.
Part C: Placement activities
During my introductory interview for my placement, I asked to be involved in as many activities as I could at the library, in order to gain a well-rounded experience. The head of library was very happy to do this, so subsequently my duties ranged from cleaning books and shelving, to accessioning and cataloguing, working on the circulation desk, assisting teachers with resources to support the curriculum, and helping staff and students and parents locate books for borrowing. I also became competent and confident with using the LMS and using Oliver in a wide range of activities, including borrowing and returns, printing out reports, and searching up resources. I was also involved in the annual “Christmas Shoebox appeal” whilst I was doing my placement. The library collected over 1,000 filled shoeboxes from children which were packaged to be sent to a warehouse for outgoing distribution.
At Emmanuel College the high school students “hire” their text books for the school year, whereby the parents pay a fee for the entire collection of books they need for the year for students from Year 7 to Year 12. Consequently there are over 12,000 text books loaned out. At the end of school year when these text books are returned to the library every text book needs to be checked in, cleaned, repaired if necessary and shelved for the next year. After this task is completed it is time to prepare for the next school year. Student’s text book lists are collated for each year level and textbooks drawn from the shelves. In preparation for the next year, every year levels textbooks are displayed on tables so the first week back to school students come to the library with their text book list and collect their textbooks. The school is trialling a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) program this year, it will interesting to stay in touch to view the success of this program.
Part D: Reflection
My time spent at the library at Emmanuel College was an invaluable experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. I hadn’t worked in a library previously, other than some volunteer work, and this experience reinforced to me how much I enjoyed this environment both personally and professionally. By participating in so many of the day to day activies within the library I experienced firsthand the many hats that a school librarian has to wear; from consoling the small child who has lost their library book, to preparing the seminar room and providing morning tea for visiting university dignitaries and the members of the college board. I found it very interesting being on the circulation desk and dealing with the wide range of inquiries that came through the front door or over the telephone. These inquiries ranged from parents (including the “public relations minefield” of explaining to an irate mother why she should pay for a library book their child has lost) to the many different requests from teachers (including one doing his own private investigator work, which involved checking the library logs to see if one of his students had actually been studying in the library that morning, which allegedly led to him missing the start of class). However, the most enjoyable aspect on being on the front desk was greeting and helping the students, ranging from Prep to Year 12, with their many and varied requests.
As I hadn’t worked in a library before, I found the day to day tasks of shelving, cleaning, repairing books and deselection a valuable way to learn the library collection. Not to forget book covering, (mastering the ancient art of “contacting”), and graduating from smaller books to the “Big Books”! I enjoyed learning the LMS and by the end of my placement felt very confident using Oliver for a range of tasks including, borrowing, returning, reservations, overdue lists and assisting students, teachers and parents with searching for resources. Accessioning and cataloguing was another invaluable exercise in becoming familiar with the library collection. Completing my placement at this library also allowed me to view the complex role of the library within the school, from collaborating with teachers and supporting the curriculum to promoting a love of lifelong reading and learning with the students. I especially enjoyed helping the junior school students select books for their weekly library visit and being involved in reading them a story and assisting with their subsequent lesson.
I am very glad I was able to complete my placement at the end of the school year as it gave me some opportunities I would miss at other times. It was very exciting to see what was involved in “winding up” the library in a manner of speaking for the end of one year, and preparing it for the start of the coming year. I found I thrived on the wide range and multitude of tasks that the role of a teacher librarian presents and I have followed up my placement at this library by doing volunteer work one day every week. This not only helps me on my learning journey but also reinforces what I have learned thus far. It also keeps me up to date with current library tends until I am fortunate enough to gain a position as a Teacher Librarian.