Posted by: eheino | September 20, 2014

ETL507 Placement Report

** the school name has been changed for anonymity

My placement was completed in the Wattleville Public School Library, which services the school community of Wattleville Public School, a primary school with over 500 students and 35 staff.

Part A

Role of the Library

The role of this library is to ensure all students have equitable access to resources regardless of their socio-economic status, as well as to facilitate the work of the classroom teachers. The teacher-librarian makes herself available to staff and students from 8.30am to 3.30pm to enable users to access materials both inside and outside of class time.

The library aims to:

  • Instil and sustain a love of reading in its students by providing a rich variety of quality fiction and non-fiction texts and texts that complement the students’ interests;
  • Provide a wide variety of curriculum resources to cater for differences in learning and teaching styles; and
  • Collaborate with classroom teachers to plan, implement and evaluate guided inquiry programs that will enable students to acquire skills to collect, critically analyse and organise information.

The library meets these aims relatively well, however it could provide better access to digital resources, particularly online resources and eBooks, which are not currently included in the collection. Guided Inquiry could also be better integrated across the school, however the teacher-librarian is working tirelessly to ensure this happens in years to come.

Users

Wattleville Library is well used by both staff and students.

Students access the library during their weekly library lesson, and can also access it during the first half of lunch if they choose. Students in Early Stage 1 can borrow one book at a time, Stage 1 can borrow up to two at a time, while Stages 2 and 3 can borrow up to three concurrently. All students can access the catalogue via their DET login. All students are encouraged to take part in the Premiers’ Reading Challenge, with library use increasing during this time as students endeavour to read enough books to meet the challenge.

The majority of lunchtime student users are accessing the library to use the available technology (iPads and laptops) to play on school-approved apps or websites. Some older students use the laptops to do research for school assignments or to complete presentations.

Staff use the library to gain access to teacher resources, as well as texts that supports their curriculum. Staff regularly approach the teacher-librarian looking for particular texts for their lessons, or to get a variety of fiction for students to access in the classroom during quiet reading time.

Some parents use the library in the afternoons to borrow books for younger siblings of students; however, this is a very small number of parents, the majority of whom volunteer their time in the library, and it is not an advertised feature of the library at present.

Collections

The teacher-librarian in this library ensures that all resources come through the library before being distributed to classrooms. This way she is aware of where all resources are at all times, and can retrieve items when necessary.

The library has six major collections, as follows:

Junior Fiction

This consists of picture books that are of an appropriate reading level for children from Kindergarten to Year 2. They are stored on shelves that are easy for young students to reach, and a number of books are displayed to encourage interest in the collection. A selection of Junior Fiction is kept in a bin for Kindergarten students to access. These students are restricted to borrowing from this bin, unless the teacher-librarian approves a particular student to do otherwise. Books are selected for this bin on the basis of them being quick and easy for parents to read to their children before bed.

Middle Fiction

This consists of simple chapter books and novel-sized stories that are aimed at children from 7-10 years. Many books in this section are popular series that are kept in their own boxes and are based on the children’s interests. The library receives the most requests for additions to this collection, and thus it is a growing collection.

Senior Fiction

These books are more challenging, and are mostly accessed by students in Stage 3. Popular authors in this collection are Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings, J.K. Rowling and Jeff Kinney. This collection also includes Senior Picture Books.

Non-Fiction

Non-fiction is catalogued according to the Dewey Decimal System. Students regularly borrow books about dinosaurs and other animals. Jokes and puzzles are also borrowed regularly. The teacher-librarian has identified books in this collection that are useful for particular units of work and has them separated in boxes of resources for that unit.

Teacher Resources

These are stored in a separate room at the back of the library. Teachers borrow books from here about once a term before returning them. The library regularly receives requests for hard copies of teacher resources rather than online resources so this collection is still growing. Teacher Resources also includes a large Big Book Collection.

Guided Readers

Unlike many other schools in the area, the guided readers are in the process of being catalogued through the library. All readers are covered with contact, and a barcode and accession number is attached to each set of books which are then shared between classrooms.

Use of Technology

This library is slowly making the transition to an information hub. It has 28 laptops and 25 iPads that are used both inside and outside the library. Although they are not technically part of the collection, it is the teacher-librarian’s responsibility to ensure all technology is returned to the library at the end of the day for safe storage.

Laptops and iPads are used during lunch time in the library, and Stage 3 students are responsible for the distribution, collection and proper use of the technology during this time. These students love the responsibility of the role and take pride in doing a good job. There are also a number of desktop computers that can be used at any time to access the library catalogue via their student logins.

Inside the library the laptops are used for guided inquiry lessons with Stage 3 students. Students search the internet for relevant information on a subject, then complete a presentation using Keynote or Prezi which is presented at the end of the term. Guided inquiry is a work in progress in this library. There is not a website evaluation policy that is used across the school, and many students struggle with the steps of the inquiry process, resulting in average presentations at the end of the process. However the teacher-librarian is working with Stage leaders to increase the use of guided inquiry in the curriculum and steady improvement should come with time.

The teacher-librarian also uses an Interactive Whiteboard to present her lessons for Stages 1-3.

Part B

Generally speaking, this library does a good job of meeting the needs of its users, however it could be doing more.

Students need access to quality fiction and non-fiction texts that are stimulating, meet their interests and are at an appropriate reading level for them in order to sustain their interest in reading. They also need access to quality curricular materials that aid and add to their learning in these areas.

The Wattleville library collection meets these needs quite well, particularly in its fiction collection. For example, the teacher-librarian has separated the collection into three reading levels – junior, middle and senior fiction in an attempt to provide students easy access to texts at their reading level. She also regularly purchases new books that reflect students’ interests and requests, such as Billy B Brown and Hey Jack books for Stage 1 students that are ready for novels, and Lego picture books for the younger boys. She also regularly purchases new publications on the Premier’s Reading Challenge book lists as they have already been reviewed as quality fiction. The collection is also weeded regularly of old books and those that are not borrowed to make room for new purchases, leaving enough space on the shelves for lots of display books, and shelves that can be browsed easily. The result is a rich fiction collection which is used extensively by most students.

However, such a rich fiction collection has come at the price of its non-fiction collection. Although extensive, large portions of it are quite old or out of date, resulting in students choosing to borrow little from it. Small sections have been updated, such as animals and dinosaurs, but other areas such as sport and music are small or outdated. The teacher-librarian is aware of the issue and is working to change it at present.

The library is also lacking an electronic collection. It does not include an eBook collection, and websites have not been catalogued either. The inclusion of eBooks in the collection would assist the library in meeting the learning needs of students, particularly those with reading difficulties, as many eBooks have text-to-speech conversion. They also have the potential to engage students who are not interested in reading at present through the interactivity of many eBooks.

By cataloguing websites with curricular content and benefits, staff can save time by accessing the catalogue and being sure that the websites included in the catalogue are full of quality content and are at a level appropriate to their students. Without the catalogue, staff must find these resources themselves, time that could be better spent designing quality lessons.

Apart from that, the library does a good job in meeting the needs of staff. The teacher-librarian is particular about ensuring all new teacher resources purchased by KLA teams are catalogued through the library before being distributed to classrooms. This ensures that all staff have equitable access to this material, and goes a long way to preventing materials being lost. The library also takes requests from teachers for particular teacher resources or curricular texts and purchases these for the library.

Wattleville Library is a reliable repository of resources for staff, as demonstrated by the regular visits from staff throughout the day requesting materials. Although it could be doing more, staff and students clearly view the library as an excellent source of fiction, non-fiction and teacher resources, and are generally satisfied with what is available.

 

Part C

My placement came at a pivotal time for Wattleville Library. A wheelchair ramp had just been installed and important decisions were being made about the new design of the library to accommodate the ramp, without losing much (or any) shelf space. The teacher-librarian discussed with me potential ideas for the arrangement of shelving both temporarily and long-term, and took my ideas into consideration when making her decisions. We rearranged the books on the temporary shelving several times to decide what the best spacing for Junior and Middle fiction was, endeavouring to make it visually appealing for the children whilst maintaining a logical order.

Towards the end of my placement, a representative from Raeco visited the library to provide a quote on new permanent furniture for the library, including shelving, seating and computer tables. The teacher-librarian allowed me to be involved in this discussion also, and again took my opinion into consideration when deciding on the arrangement of the new shelving, and the colours of the new comfortable seating.  It was very rewarding having my opinions valued during this important time, especially when my ideas were used by the teacher-librarian, as they were with the final arrangement of books on the temporary shelving, and the decision to purchase more shelving for one wall of the library to make room for a comfortable reading area for students. Being involved in this process also gave me an understanding of the mechanics of major changes to the library, particularly regarding the discussions and administrative hoops that must be passed before decisions are made and the changes come into effect. I feel confident that as a result of being part of this process at Wattleville I have the ability and knowledge to make similar changes in a library of my own.

My placement also gave me the opportunity to become quite familiar with the workings of SCIS and OASIS. I was responsible for loaning and returning books for students, as well as deleting books from the system after a major cull of resources following the rearrangement of shelving after the ramp installation. My major task for the placement was to use SCIS to download Kindergarten readers onto the OASIS system, entering location, price and supplier details for each item, and processing the books for inclusion in the collection (stamping, recording accession and location details in the back cover and covering books). This was quite a time-consuming task, and it gave me an appreciation for how hard teacher-librarians work in order to keep the library running smoothly and effectively. I was very appreciative of the opportunity to work closely with OASIS, as all the schools in the area still use it, and prior to the placement I felt I knew very little about it. Now, thanks to the tutelage of the teacher-librarian and her assistant, I have an understanding of how it works, and where to find things if I need to perform a particular task. I am also confident that I know how to perform all the basic tasks required to run a library effectively.

Part D

Since I don’t work in a school library at present, the placement was a highly valuable experience for me as it allowed me to view and put into practice many of the things I have learnt during my course. Prior to completing my placement, most of what I learnt was only theoretical, and I could only make connections based on what I had seen during my casual classroom teaching experiences and by remembering what the library was like when I was at school. I found that by watching the teacher-librarian teach and run the library, I became confident in my ability to professionally fill in for other teacher-librarians, and ultimately run my own library one day.

The placement assisted my development as a teacher-librarian in a number of ways. The biggest impact was made in the area of collection development and management. When I completed ETL503 last year, everything was purely theoretical. I thought I understood the methodology of developing and managing a collection, but seeing it in action and being able to participate in the decision-making process for weeding resources increased my understanding exponentially. This was mainly because I could see the impact of the decisions on the collection, and the reasons behind why changes were necessary. I observed the borrowing patterns of the children, and noticed that they showed little interest in older books, or those without colourful covers. Themes that appealed to boys and girls hadn’t changed since I was young (eg. adventure, fairies, horses), but they still showed little interest in older books on these themes, particularly in middle and senior fiction. Having seen for myself how children use the library, and what they find interesting, I feel that I could successfully make decisions to improve underperforming libraries by, for example, selecting engaging print and electronic resources and weeding/replacing older ones, organising the physical library in an appealing way (purchasing comfortable seating, creating nooks with the shelving etc) and marketing the resources to the school community.

The placement also reinforced to me the need for teacher-librarians to be leaders within the school. Again, when I completed ETL504 it was all relatively theoretical to me, and it was difficult to comprehend the impact a great teacher-librarian and their library could have on a school.  The Wattleville teacher-librarian did a fantastic job at advocating her position and the importance of the library to the teachers and administration. She regularly requested new resources for the library, and had successfully negotiated team-teaching time with Stage 3 teachers for guided inquiry lessons. Because she had made herself known to the staff, the library was well used by everyone, and she was able to secure funding to make the library a better place. Having experienced libraries in other schools where this wasn’t happening, seeing the impact the advocacy of this teacher-librarian had on the school community inspired me to step into a leadership position in my own school one day, and to participate in profession-wide advocacy programs.

My placement at Wattleville Public School Library was a rich and rewarding experience for me. This opportunity has given me the knowledge and confidence to successfully run a school library that benefits a school community to its fullest potential.

The new storytime area post-ramp

The new storytime area post-ramp

A wider view of our temporary shelving solution post-ramp

A wider view of our temporary shelving solution post-ramp

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