Working for the system
Zarina Fleming, teacher librarian at Shepparton High School since 2013, inherited a library system that had been in use at the school since 1994 – almost 20 years. What was becoming increasingly apparent and frustrating to her was the feeling that she was working for the library system rather than the library system working for her.
Shepparton High School is the original public secondary school in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia. Established in 1909, it began as Shepparton Agricultural High School, one of 10 agricultural high schools set up in the state of Victoria between 1907 and 1912. Today, the co-educational high school has around 600 students who speak 19 different languages, with 53 students identifying as Koorie (indigenous Australians).
“I was receiving very limited support from the system vendor, who was slow to respond and made me feel like I was being a nuisance. On top of this, the system was very static and inflexible in what it could do,” says Zarina.
Shepparton is part of a Better Together Alliance of local schools. One school in this group was using Accessit Library. Zarina also found two other schools in the area were using Accessit, and she was impressed with how enthusiastic they all were about how it performed and how supportive Accessit were to deal with. “We also wanted a system that was web-based and matched the style and type of searching our students were doing on the internet,” says Zarina.
The decision came easily
Working with the school’s IT Manager, Zarina talked to schools in the Better Together Alliance and the region that were using Accessit. Zarina also drew on the investigation, experiences and feedback from the Australian Teacher Librarian Network (OZTL) about the library systems they were working with and moving to. They quickly decided that Accessit was the system that would best meet all their requirements, and they felt confident that ongoing support wasn’t going to be an issue.
But the prospect of undertaking a migration of the school library system was particularly daunting, and Zarina had the expectation that this would be both painful and time consuming.
“I thought I would have to be ultra, ultra organized and that I would have lots of preparatory work to do.
The surprise was that the migration was amazing! It was a very easy process, cleanly implemented and all done remotely, and it was great to be able to use the Circul8r product for system continuity during the changeover,” says Zarina.
The cost factor was a surprise
The cost factor was a real surprise to Zarina. “We knew that our old system was a bit past its best and that there were other systems out there that were much better, but we thought that we would have to pay a lot more for a better product and service. What we’ve been surprised to see is that the annual cost of Accessit is virtually the same as what we had been paying for our old system, but we’re now getting a lot more value from our investment. The Accessit team have been very professional to deal with, and they’re always willing to find ways to accommodate our processes and some of our financial impediments,” she says.
“Accessit has been really well received by our students, teachers, management and IT team. Our students are now able to read digital newspapers and periodicals via our library system, and it has made things a whole lot easier to deliver our library services – especially being able to email overdue notices to students. Our next project is to digitize our archives and maintain a collection on Accessit. Watch this space,” says Zarina.