Let’s Talk Libraries: Peace Lutheran College (QLD) - Tanya Mills
“We have noticed a huge increase in library usage overall. We are now also using Accessit Library in the classrooms to access the collection, conduct research and use resources.”
Peace Lutheran College is recognised for its vision to be “at the forefront of innovative education” and is known for its culture of inclusiveness, where everybody is somebody.
Tanya Mills, head librarian at Peace Lutheran College oversees management of the Learning Centre.
“I have a degree in Library and Information Service and am currently studying a Masters of Primary Teaching. I oversee the management of the library which we call the Learning Centre.”
After 15 years with an inadequate school library system, Tanya wanted to improve her library’s catalogue and professionalise her service.
“Our previous library system was very dated and manual, more like a database than a library management system. It was unable to do even some of the most basic tasks, like setting up kits. At that time the catalogue was very messy, a whole-of-school stocktake had never been held, so we had no idea what was out in the classrooms. In addition to this, the catalogue and borrowers had not been cleaned up in over 15 years.”
A prerequisite for new software was the ability to help the Learning Centre improve its service delivery and efficiently catalogue its collection. After asking colleagues and other library professionals, Tanya was steered towards Accessit Library.
“I visited and spoke with a number of schools in my local area and saw a demonstration of how they used their LMS. I also obtained very positive feedback regarding Accessit’s service. Around the same time, we also had a visit from the Accessit Rep during her road trip and she gave us a demonstration.”
Balancing two different options for school library systems, Tanya decided that an engaging Web App and Accessit Library’s customer centric approach were what enticed her the most.
“After completing my research, the choice came down to two systems. At the time, both were fairly similar in price, however I was not as impressed with the other system’s Web App and some of the other functionality. In the end it was Accessit’s service that helped me to make the final decision. I found it difficult to get in touch with the other organisation, even in the sales phase. Customer Service is extremely important to me, and I needed a company that I could rely on, especially during the installation and migration phase.”
For Peace Lutheran College, it was important that the implementation process was seamless so that Tanya could ‘hit the ground running’ with the new system.
“We decided to implement the system the week before school went back to minimise the impact it may have had on students and staff. Some of the challenges that make us a bit unique is that we are a Prep to Year 12 school with boarding and an adjacent independently run Kindy.
We also have a number of international students. We had resources within the library and out in other areas of the school which were not even in the library system. The catalogue was a complete mess and had not been cleaned up in over 15 years. It was almost like starting over again.”
The Accessit Library migration team was accommodating and there were many training tools available.
“The team at Accessit ran us through a pre-implementation phase, and our IT team and their implementation team worked together to make sure everything was in place. They migrated the entire system over for us. We then had a couple of training sessions live via video conference to set up our users and collection types and to set up our Web App, and then we were on our way. I had a huge list of improvements I needed to make such as adding a textbook hire system, limiting the collection to our younger students and implementing emailing overdue notices. The videos and cheat sheets were a great help and I have spent many an hour on the phone to the wonderful support staff.”
The stellar service extends to the product offering and ease at which Tanya can implement 3rd party content.
“In the 3 years since we implemented Accessit, we have also added Britannica Schools, an e-book and audio book system, and we are currently in the middle of implementing RFID. We also use a brother label printer and use Accessit to generate spine labels and re-print barcode labels. It is this above and beyond service that makes Accessit exceptional.”
Students use libraries in many different ways. Peace Lutheran College has a mobile free policy, which makes it more important for the library to engage with the students.
“Students use our library during break times as a meeting place, a place to work or read, to play board games, or as a place to do craft (based on their interests) and host ‘Lego Club’. We are a mobile phone free school, so we have a lot of activities available to students within the library and on other areas of the campus. Junior and Middle school students have a library lesson for one lesson each week with their English teacher. I teach the students information literacy skills, library skills, how to use our systems and sometimes I just read to them. We also supervise Year 11 & 12 VET and study students who have study periods. Students also visit the library remotely via the Web App to search for resources and reserve items. They also access digital resources such as e-books, audio-books and other e-documents.”
When asked what she likes the most about Accessit Library, Tanya said:
“It is just how simple the system is to use. I always use the Web App to search for books when I am with students, so that they can see the dust jacket and can learn how to search for books themselves.”
Accessit’s ease of use makes it popular with the Junior school, with high engagement from the Year 2 students.
“Our Junior school students love searching the web catalogue, finding a book, checking if it is in, and then looking on the map to see where it is located. It never ceases to amaze me how they have these skills by Year 2. The Web App is their access point to all of our online services, so older students use it to access the catalogue, Britannica Schools and download digital materials.”
Accessit has given Tanya the ability to be flexible with her service delivery.
“I was able to implement a book hire system, send reminder and overdue notices via email, create kits for all of our group readers, and issue laptops and equipment via Accessit too.”
It was very easy to switch to Accessit Library.
“The data migration was seamless. The migration team took care of it for us. Prior to migration, we worked together to decide on the collection types. We were unable to use the system for a couple of days while this was undertaken, however we did this in the school holidays to minimise the impact on services. They migrated the entire history of the collection, loans, borrower histories etc dating back 15 years or so.“
Since installing Accessit Library in 2016, Peace Lutheran College has seen an increase in books borrowed by 215%.
“We have noticed a huge increase in library usage overall since we migrated to Accessit Library. We are now also using Accessit in the classrooms to access the collection, conduct research and use resources such as Britannica Schools.”
Peace Lutheran College’s ethos of technology adoption is paying off, resulting in better engagement with the library.
“Peace Lutheran College aims to be at the forefront of innovative education with flexible learning. Our students have one to one access to technology from Prep with iPads and then laptops for up to Year 4. Students from Year 5 bring their own devices. Our students have every opportunity to immerse themselves in literature. Our extensive range of resources are available in print and digital download. They include picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, manga, information texts and a young adult collection. Having the technology and facilities along with the skills from regular library lessons makes these resources readily accessible to all.”
Tanya is very pleased with the support that she has had from Accessit Library.
“The support I have received from Accessit has been phenomenal. There are self-help cheat sheets and video instructions available on their website. We also have the ability to raise a ticket for non-urgent problems. Then there is the support team which are available on telephone. These staff are all highly trained and are able to talk us through any problem we may have, small or large, over the phone or with Team Viewer. I don’t think I have had to wait for the phone to be answered.”