Busy teacher librarian, Patria Davis spoke exclusively with School News about the installation of Access-It Version 9 software in her Wesley Intermediate School library.
Wesley Intermediate is a small school, with around 165 Year 7s and 8s and less than 20 staff members. The unique school is tucked comfortably into the Wesley community and Patria emphasised its strong sense of “belonging, family, safety, love, positivity and hope”. She explained how students draw from their diverse range of the ethnic and cultural backgrounds to encourage a culture of warmth throughout the school.
“Our students are the reason we all show up to work every day; you cannot get far through the school corridors each morning without encountering smiles, laughs and happy greetings. It is a great place to work.” While being a small school helps create this lovely environment, it also means the library runs on a small budget and staff wear lots of different hats.
Patria shared: “My roles include librarian, teacher in charge (TIC) of learning hub (academic support and extension programs for students), TIC of ESOL program, TIC of resource room, and TIC of the William Pike Challenge Award (WPCA).
“A typical day for me involves juggling time completing administration work, teaching small groups, working alongside teachers in classrooms, planning and leading activities outside the school grounds for the WPCA and ESOL programs, answering questions, answering emails – and, of course, all the jobs involved in running the school library.
“Almost all of the ‘new’ books are donations or second-hand purchases. In my first year, I redesigned the library space for less than $100 and using Kiwi ingenuity, we opened up the space to create an inviting, relaxing, and open environment. It is now my favourite part of the school to work in.”
The library management system Patria inherited needed updating, so she arranged to meet with Access-It. “The scope of the software caught my attention (actually I was completely hooked and my passion for the software hasn’t waned yet) and a meeting with our school’s senior leadership team and teachers confirmed support for the new system was unanimous. Key features that impressed us were the easy, visual access to search functions, its book review feature, and the One Search feature that enables scaffolding of student’s independent online research.
“We use the Access-It software to catalogue all the student and teacher resources in the school. In the future it is likely to become our system for digital technologies as well. In the old system we had two libraries: school library and resource room, so we rolled over the data from the school library, then proceeded to catalogue the resource room from scratch in order to update, correct and improve the ability to search quickly for resources.
“As I became familiar with the software and problem-solved with the Access-It team we opened up some new terrain. One of the significant features I stumbled across was using educational terms as ‘tags’ to help teachers quickly locate useful resources. The ‘tags’ function was also useful for assigning curriculum levels to enable teachers to narrow their searches.”
On the installation process
“We installed Access-It Version 9 as a local install on the school server, migrating data from one of our two libraries, Getting Started training, and student administration integration. The installation process was huge, and really well-managed by the Access-It team. We made it easy for ourselves by closing the school library for a couple of weeks, but it is possible to install while keeping the library open.
“The greatest service for me has been the Help Desk at Access-It, the team are amazing with speedy phone and email responses. Up to that point it had very much been ‘sink or learn to swim’ for me in the various roles I had taken on. I was accustomed, partly due to personality and partly due to necessity, to problem-solving on my own, so it was a new experience to have a team of people telling me to call them for help before I spent hours trying to solve the problem myself!”
She emphasised the level of potential for what can be done with the software. “Primarily, we are using the sophisticated search function to improve access to teacher resources and library books. Teachers are now able to use the web app to search for resources, which has also been great in simplifying the process for student librarians – they no longer access the management app, as all the features they require are accessible via the web app.”
For Patria, the management app is “easy to use and has a host of easily accessible features, so that I can make small or larger changes quickly. In the limited time I have to spend in the library, this is a tremendous asset. Other benefits for us for long-term implementation include the book review feature and the One Search feature. These were two of the major draw cards for the teaching staff but are not fully functioning across the school community just yet. These are part of our plan to develop the library. I am excited about the potential scope of these features and look forward to seeing them used across the school.”