The 21st century library

Demonstration of the value of the school library to principals and school councils is essential as Schools look at resourcing the Australian Curriculum including phase one learning areas, the general capabilities and the Australian curriculum cross curriculum priority areas.In the 21st century school libraries need to consider their spaces, the role of the teacher librarian and the move to digital content and access in the age of BYOD (Bring your own device)


‘What do teacher librarians teach’ by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones  is an excellent infographic to highlight the  multifaceted role of teacher librarians. Evaluating resources is an important focus for teacher librarians, as is digital citizenship and educating students about  plagiarism.  Increasingly teacher librarians are working with classroom teachers, to develop student’s capacity to identify and ask good questions and to improve study and research skills.


Modern school library design will look more to buildings such as Trinity Grammar’s Tudor Centre and its contemporary approach to library design which brings together library, curriculum and technology staff.


In the age of BYOD students are not necessarily accessing the same information at the same time. For students and staff 24/7 access to resources is important, as is providing resources in a variety of formats: print, e-book, DVD, audiobooks and digital video library. Identification of suitable apps for teacher resources and for use by students is  featuring increasingly.  While we may be seeing a drop in the use of our non fiction print collections this may not be a matter of student preference.  Content and relevancy are important regardless of format.


The school library catalogue is in most schools the only place where users can search for school-owned/licensed resources all in one place. School library catalogues provide access to learning resources for the school community.  While students and teachers can use a search engine to find millions of online resources, this search will return everything online EXCEPT the very resources that your school or system has actually selected and paid for.


The student or staff member seeking books, information and learning resources expects to do one search and for that search to return all relevant material available to them, regardless of its format or its location.  Single point of search assumes an integrated set of search results, which requires integrated metadata.


We therefore need to look at 21st Century next generation library systems which will need to meet expectations that it can manage digital rights management, a seamless secure single sign-on and federated searching across a variety of multiple resources, databases and collections.  Next generations systems will need the ability to connect with  a variety of devices and increasingly to apply a personalised service similar to the Amazon or Google experience.


This is why making digital content discoverable through school library catalogues is a priority.

For a long time a priority for library staff has been to organise the physical library space in ways that are attractive, encourages users to visit, to explore and make it easy for them to find what they need, assist browsing for inspiration. We work to make location and lending of resources as seamless and self-service as possible.

We now have additional responsibilities. As well as serving our users who are visitors, browsers and borrowers of physical items in a physical library space, we now also serve our library users accessing and downloading resources in virtual spaces.