ALIA day 3 – experiences reviewing the library

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The question for today was:

  • What has been your experience with reviewing your school library?

I found this to be more thought-provoking than expected, because my first response – thinking of the document – was ‘none’! But then I realised that reviewing services happens all the time, sometimes purposefully and sometimes on an ad hoc basis.

My first review activities would have been completed as part of my masters degree in Teacher Librarianship, awaaaay back between 2002 and 2007. I remember completing various assignments on reviewing and creating policy and procedure documents, collection mapping and reviewing online services.

Having moved to Tasmania and taken up this position at Hutchins,there have been different kinds of reviews: position descriptions, staff roles within a team, collaborative curriculum planning…

When I worked in Hong Kong I helped with a redesign of the school library, so that involved a lot of consideration of use of floorspace, flexible shelving and furniture options, placement of immovable IWBs to avoid glare, traffic flow…

In the last two years our school underwent a minutely detailed, comprehensive self-evaluation as part of gaining accreditation as an international school, included in which was of course analysis of library services and curriculum. That analysis was more about perception and use of the school library by the wider school community, so there are areas in these self-reflection and evaluation guidelines that were not touched upon in that process.

So now that I have thought about this a bit more deeply, I would say that I am involved in review processes of different aspects of library management at different points throughout the year, sometimes in response to external factors and sometimes as part of our internal annual cycles.Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps what I should be aiming for is a combination:

  • regular/term reviews of things such as library program and collection development to support the curriculum
  • small annual reports (Dianne Mackenzie is eloquent in her explanations here)
  • 3 to 5 yearly major reviews, which would provide support for a 3-5 year strategic plan for the library

Looking just at the third point is too daunting, but if divided into term-by-term and year-by-year activities, I think I can see it becoming more a process of analysing data that has been collected all along, plus updating documentation, and then from there creating goals for the future.

I foresee some quality time being spent with my calendar….


It is amazing how much time can be spent on the admin details – I spent at least an hour yesterday checking through the new term timetables, sorting out period changes for some English classes and trying to work out how often I will be seeing my various classes this term, what with various camps, athletics carnivals, concerts and speech night preparations (I have been warned to expect the unexpected from late October onwards – apparently rehearsals fall from on high without warning or mercy).

Today’s important-but-fearsomely-monotonous task is stocktaking. There has not been a stocktake in at least six years (I am not enquiring too deeply into the history of this), and there are a lot of errors in the catalogue database. The bar of chocolate at the end of this will be a much more accurate set of records ready for the planned software changeover over the summer. I have decided to call it the Tour de Stocktake, because it will be accomplished over several weeks, in stages, some of which could be called sprints, while others are enormously challenging mountains of items. The first Stage (French accent please) was achieved on Monday, with the scanning of all fiction books present in the infants library. While about 35% were missing, I’m hoping that at least half of those will miraculously reappear when I work my way through the infants classrooms.

Time to unplug my laptop, grab the scanner, blue cable, stocktake folder and mug of tea, and head off to the wilderness – that is, the non-fiction section of the infants library room. If I don’t make it back for morning tea, send out a search party.