Richmond & Prahran High School Library

Let’s Talk Libraries: Richmond & Prahran High School – Karys McEwen

School librarian, Karys McEwen, has achieved no small feat in establishing two libraries from scratch. Working between Prahran High School and Richmond High School, Karys now works full time at the former as she’s brought both libraries to a stage where full-time library management is required. Karys touches on the support she received from both schools throughout her endeavour and discusses how Accessit Library was the right Library System for establishing two brand-new secondary school libraries.

Type  Secondary School
Roll 750
Campus One campus
Install Cloud installation
Location Victoria, Australia
Type  Secondary School
Roll 650
Campus One campus
Install Cloud installation
Location Victoria, Australia

Keywords:

  • Two brand-new libraries
  • Third-party Integrations
  • Seamless user interface
  • Search functions
  • Reading culture

It was a really exciting opportunity to begin with a completely blank canvas. It was also daunting, but the Accessit Library team made it a really straight-forward process and because Accessit Library is so suited to school libraries, it wasn’t a headache at all.

Karys McEwen

School Librarian, Prahran High School, VIC

What has working between two libraries been like?

It has been a busy three years! I am really proud of the work I have done.

In 2019 I was hired to set up two brand new secondary school libraries, in two brand new schools: Prahran High School and Richmond High School. Both were empty rooms when I started. In three years, I have grown both libraries into small collections (about 3,000 books each) and both use Accessit Library as their Library Management System. This year I am now full time at Prahran High School as there is now a need for a full-time librarian at each school.

My job has been to oversee and undertake everything in the two libraries, such as:

Plus, creating the reading culture in both schools through library programs, working with classes, readers advisory, Book Club, Writers’ Club and everything in between.

Building two brand-new secondary school libraries from scratch must’ve been quite a unique experience, how did you do it?

It was a really exciting opportunity to begin with a completely blank canvas. It was also daunting, but the Accessit Library team made it a really straight-forward process and because Accessit Library is so suited to school libraries, it wasn’t a headache at all.

I had to start from scratch, so there were definitely things that I didn’t think about and just had to learn along the way – but it was a really exciting opportunity!

It’s also very interesting that there are things that you don’t think about in an established library because they’re just there. Whether that’s on the catalogue or in the physical library itself, there were many decisions I had to make. For example, “What will my spine labels look like?” or “How do I display my books?”.

There were things that I started doing and then changed along the way and Accessit Library was really good for that. For example, being able to make bulk changes when needed within the Library Management System – that was really handy.

Why choose Accessit Library as the Library Management System for two-brand new school libraries?

I used Accessit at a past school (Glen Eira College) for two years and had nothing but good experiences with the system. I love how intuitive and user-friendly it is, as well as how customisable it is for each school. I found the team really supportive and friendly and no request was too big or small, especially when I was first learning how to use Accessit Library.

I feel like I’m absolutely sold on it.

So, when I started these two libraries, I didn’t even shop around because I was just so impressed with my two years using Accessit Library at a previous school.

It was just a done deal.

I also have a few colleagues that have used Accessit Library and it definitely helps to be able to ask other people and communicate with other librarians that are already using it.

The Accessit Library Help Portal is really useful too. It’s really extensive and very helpful. The online Help Portal means I can always try to solve my own problems first. I have a lot more confidence in my cataloguing and system management since working with Accessit Library. It gives me the confidence to figure things out for myself most of the time.

You’ve mentioned that the Accessit Library support team has been helpful, what else would you say about them?

The customer support at Accessit Library is really great. They are excellent, completely unbeatable, and the number one reason why I would recommend Accessit Library to other school librarians.

When I have any problems or questions, I just submit a ticket online and a technician calls me back almost immediately. I like that I don’t have to be an IT expert to use Accessit Library – because the staff always explain things to me in a way I can understand, and upskill me to be able to troubleshoot myself along the way.

What features of Accessit Library as a Library Management System have been the most helpful for you?

  • I really like how clear everything is on every page and how simple it is to switch between pages.
  • I love the search functions and find them so easy to use.
  • I love how smoothly SCIS and other databases work with the system and how I can incorporate things like eBooks and ClickView into the collection.
  • I love Single Sign-On for the Accessit Library Web App and how customisable the Web App is.

How did you approach getting students at both schools to engage with the Accessit Library Web App?

I think that it’s really important introducing them to the library. We have orientation sessions for students in Year 7 and we do a refresher course in the future years. During my Library Orientation sessions, I introduce (or re-introduce) the students to the Accessit Library Web App and ask them to bookmark it on their devices.

I show them how to:

  • Search the catalogue
  • Log in to their accounts to check their loans or renew books
  • Access our digital research resources on the news feed.
Students
The Accessit Library Web App really helps with this, even on a basic level, like searching the library catalogue by finding what they’re looking for using keywords, title or author name.

I spent a lot of time on the Accessit Library Web App when we had our first lockdown in 2020. That was a chance for me to really get it going. With the kids being at home, I wanted them to still feel like the library was there for them.

The Web App was the perfect way to do that because they can access it 24/7.

I put a lot of different things on there that weren’t necessarily about libraries and books to keep them engaged and entertained. I regularly posted:

  • Interesting stories
  • Reading recommendations
  • Boredom busters
  • Virtual excursions
  • Students’ book reviews

They could go on there and feel a little bit like they’re in the library, but in a digital way.

I also made a couple of videos showing them where to download eBooks and where to find different online resources which I uploaded to the Web App, too. It also has the foundational information on there like where they can go to do online research and how they use the library.

Richmond High School Library Web App

I think it looks great – very busy and colourful, with relevant and interesting information for the kids and even some student input, too. I would love to expand on this and get more book reviews in there.

Karys McEwen

I sort of see it as a social media feed in a way, so I just try to keep it updated as much as I can.

I think deleting old content and keeping it fresh with new stuff is really important. It’s the same as in the library – I don’t have the same books on display all year round, so keeping the same thing in mind when it comes to the Web App is really important.

I think that information literacy is so important to teach them and because Accessit Library is so user-friendly and visually appealing to young people, it encourages them to use it to take control of their library use – in terms of both their borrowing and online research. I have lists on my Web App of all our digital research resources, so they use it primarily for that.

What is the reading culture like at both Prahran High School and Richmond High school?

There is a really great reading culture at both schools.

Returned books
Students

The library is a busy hub, with classes, extracurricular programs and kids spending time there during breaks and after school. The two schools are quite similar in that way. They are small collections, but very curated and highly circulated, which I think is better than having a huge collection full of dusty books that are never used!

Library

I’ve got a book club at both schools that the kids choose to come in their own time voluntarily. The reading culture at both schools is supported by teaching staff that are good readers themselves and promote that.

A lot of our kids are members of their local libraries as well, so a lot of them have searched catalogues before, which is really good.

How would you describe Accessit in one word?

Not one word but… a librarian’s best friend!

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