Friday 25 April 2014

Peer pressures...

So, on Tuesday, all of the government schools participated in a PD day, where we congregated with our respective equivalents from neighbouring schools.

Firstly, we were asked to showcase one thing that our library did well. Of particular interest was the presentation on Pinterest by Tania Sheko from Melbourne High School. Tania recognised its potential for creating visually engaging resource lists that could be embedded onto the school library's website. Furthermore, being a social networking tool, she was able to tap into the expertise of other Pinterest users with specialty knowledge.

In 2011, Agosto and Abbas observed that "social networking is a growing trend with teens" citing the statistics that, of the 93% of US teens who go online, 73% of these use social networking sites (p.1). However, at this time, blogging was at a steady decline, and Twitter was only at 8% usage. Since then, Twitter usage amongst teens has grown to 24%, (Madden, et al., 2013) whilst Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest have also become popular for collecting, curating and sharing content. It is certainly a timely reminder that even though we all learnt about the emerging Web 2.0 tools at our disposal five years ago, it's a dynamic environment and we need to continue keep up. 

After morning tea, an open discussion ensued on "the issues" that we faced in our libary. This began with the all-too-familiar concern that students were not making the best use - or any - of the non-fiction print collections. Some possible solutions were:

  • Creating subject-specific pathfinders or "libguides" that included selected print resources alongside the recommended online resources;
  • Shelving the set texts in with the main collection, where students could see other books with the same subject matter;
  • Weeding the collections more heavily to make the collection more accessible and relevant;
  • Focusing on acquiring print material that is appropriate to the age and reading level.

Personally, I felt that instead of asking the question, "Why aren't students reading our non-fiction books?" perhaps the question should have been, "If students aren't using our books, then what resources are our students using for study? How can we support them with this?" 

With this in mind, I posed the question of how we can best develop our online resources to support our students, especially given the expense of such resources. The following suggestions were made:
  • Encourage students to seek out other publicly-accessible online resources, through government websites and public, state and national libraries;
  • Prioritise purchases to resources that aren't already publicly available;
  • Avoid current e-book platforms - they are still not user-friendly enough for use in school libraries;
  • Provide access to the online resources that can be embedded into the online environment that teachers and students use.
I would have liked to have further explored how librarians could collaborate more directly with teachers in embedding this knowledge of information resources directly into the coursework.

Overall, this was an excellent opportunity to meet my peers across the sector. In addition to the formal discussion, there was plenty of opportunity to share ideas over coffee and lunch, and I made many new contacts that I will undoubtedly call upon for their expertise from time to time.


Agosto, D., & Abbas, J. (2011). (Eds.), Teens, Libraries, and Social Networking : What Librarians Need to Know. Retrieved from Ebook Library.

Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Cortesi, S., Gasser, U., Duggan, M., Smith, A., & Beaton, M. (2013). Teens, Social Media, and Privacy. Pre Research Internet Project. Retrieved from


1 comment:

  1. Lots of food for thought here, Andrew! - Thank you!

    I definitely agree with you about e-book platforms not being user-friendly enough.

    My upper-primary/lower-secondary print NF gets a good work out in subjects like history where currency is not an issue; but the rest gets a look-in when teachers tell me in advance what topics are coming up. My NF print is mainly in German and one major NF publisher, (Tessloff Verlag, Nuernberg) has further information available online for those wanting more.

    I sometimes set students the task of locating similar information, half the class via Dewey, Table of Contents and Index, half online. Guess who wins each time?! (I admit that I make sure first that the information they're looking for is in the books!)

    Print and e-resources should complement each other in a balanced collection, I think, if only to reach those children who are at home in only one format (for whatever reason).