Brisbane – Softlink attended the 10th public hearing this week regarding the "Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools." Softlink were invited to attend this hearing by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Training, following Softlink’s submission of a paper for the inquiry.
Softlink’s Chief Operating Officer, Nathan Godfrey felt Softlink could produce an insightful submission by collating vital information from school library staff via a nationwide survey. Softlink wanted to look into the way in which Australian Schools use the resources within the Library, including staff and how these reflect on student literacy levels.
"When we considered this inquiry and its terms of reference, we looked at what value we could add to the process and determined that a survey of all schools across Australia would produce unique and useful insights."
The survey was conducted on a voluntary basis, and was directed to the person responsible for each school library. A number of questions were asked to determine how library staff felt about the current circumstances within their particular library. These results were compared with results from the My Schools website in relation to student literacy levels.
Softlink focused on a number of issues within their submission. The final section of Softlink’s submission focused on the "the impact and potential of digital technologies to enhance and support the roles of school libraries and librarians." The Committee was interested in learning more about Softlink’s findings in relation to this topic, and how the availability of a school’s library system incorporating Web 2.0 and other newer technologies could enhance the role of the library and the teacher librarian.
"It is Softlink’s position that digital technologies not only have the potential to support the roles of school libraries and teacher librarians, but will, in fact, greatly enhance the role of the library and the teacher librarian, allowing the teacher librarians to contribute to the guidance of individual students." Mr. Godfrey said.
According to Softlink’s findings there are four key directions for the role of technology within libraries:
- Web Accessibility – currently there is a lack of web based systems within Australian schools. Web based systems are important to allow Students, Parents and Teachers greater accessibility to the library.
- Web 2.0 Applications – this increases the social aspect of libraries, allowing students to write book reviews, participate in forums, recommend and find recommended resources. This results in students engaging more with other students as well as with the library and library staff.
- Virtual Learning Environments – These online learning portals provide students, parents or teachers with news, real time information or recommendations using integration technology to appear on their own personal dashboards.
- Softlink’s Literacy GPS – the improvement of connectivity with Library Systems has allowed the collation, analysis and comparison of library data like never before.
Mr. Godfrey feels the Inquiry comes at a critical time for school libraries, "The Inquiry is very timely. The role of the teacher librarian and the school library is undoubtedly changing. We would consider that a lot of the change is due to the application of technology."
"This change is not a threat – it is a real opportunity. By using Web 2.0 and complementary technologies and by utilising tools such as Softlink’s Literacy GPS, teacher librarians and the school library have a greatly enhanced role in the future. The teacher librarian now has the potential to become central to the school and education community." Mr. Godfrey said.
About Softlink’s Literacy GPS
Literacy GPS has been designed as a tool for teacher librarians, teachers, administrators and parents. By accessing the vast amounts of data maintained within school libraries and analysing it, Literacy GPS can provide answers questions such as, whether a particular student or group of students is borrowing as many books as their peers, or whether a particular student or group of students is reading books at a comparative reading level to those of their peers. From this, recommendations can be made. Literacy GPS can look at how this has changed in the previous term of any year. The value of this information is significant, especially when the data is broken down and compared by state, region or student demographic.
Literacy GPS is designed to be a tool that can be used in real time to provide guidance for teachers and parents. The tool utilises the data already available within the library, making the role of the school library and the teacher librarian, as a curriculum leader, even more valuable.
Softlink is a world-leading developer of Library Management Systems, and information management software solutions. Softlink’s software which is developed at its Brisbane head office is now installed in over 10,000 libraries in 108 countries covering ten major languages.
Solutions built with world-leading technology are strengthened by a range of local support services, delivered by Softlink’s product experts, experienced library and IT specialists on staff.
Softlink have won two major export awards; The Premier of Queensland’s Award for Export Excellence - Information Technology and the Australian Exporter of the Year – Information Technology.
For more information on Softlink and its Liberty and Oliver products, visit www.softlinkint.com.