Let’s Talk Libraries: Thomas Hardye School – Jenny Stevens
- Fully customizable
- Revolutionary software
- Straightforward data migration
- Resource promotion
After hearing positive experiences with Accessit library from other school librarians, Jenny soon encountered Accessit Library for herself at an Exeter Roadshow in November 2019, where she gravitated towards a number of functions and features that she still enjoys today.
I loved the idea and use of the front end of Accessit Library and it being fully customizable. especially because the previous system I had was so limited in terms of what I could do with it.
I was totally sold on the Accessit Library dashboards, as well as the flexibility and being able to promote books and resources.
Also, there were certain things about the Management App too. For example, I liked the way that it organized the resources into collections. That was a different way of thinking from what I had been used to before.
I also liked the idea of being able to flash up interests for staff and students. This functionality is instantaneous, much more focused and relevant, rather than just sending a list of all of your new resources.
The look and feel of Accessit Library is revolutionary.
Following the Roadshow, Jenny pursued Accessit Library to be Thomas Hardye School’s new Library Management System, comparing it with her existing LMS and one other in a ‘bid’ for Accessit Library within their organisation. The bid was successful, and Thomas Hardye School migrated to Accessit Library in June 2020 – a process managed seamlessly by their IT department and Accessit Library’s Functional Support team.
We set a date for migration for June 2020. At which point, the school was still closed from lockdowns, but I was still coming into work and was able to liaise between our IT team and Accessit Library’s.
Once our IT team and Accessit Library’s Functional Support team had communicated, I didn’t really need to do anything for the actual migration process. It was pretty straightforward.
The feedback from our IT team said that Accessit Library’s Functional Support team are so knowledgeable and were able to communicate and completely sort out any issues, although I don’t think there were many!
We’ve been up and running for two years now, and I’ve not had any negative feedback from our IT team in the same way as I used to with our previous system.
Since installation, Jenny credits Accessit Library for making ‘the everyday library jobs much easier to action’, highlighting automated cataloguing, automated overdue letters for students, collection management and easily checking students’ correspondence as some helpful features and functionalities. However, it’s Accessit Library’s multiple dashboard functionality on the Web App that Jenny has impressively capitalised on for Thomas Hardye School’s staff and students, organising resources in a centralised and accessible way for the whole school.
Creating dashboards has been an organic process. Over lockdown, I produced a comprehensive document of sources for online learning and reading across all subject areas which was compiled of free resources (school subscriptions, Dorset Libraries resources and other freely available good quality websites including podcasts and blogs). I have broken these down so that each subject has their own dashboard where all the links are together, carousels of wider reading lists, Twitter accounts, podcasts etc. This has been a cumulative process throughout this academic year and is still ongoing.
With three-year groups in the lower school (Years 9, 10 and 11), my initial idea was to make a dashboard for the Lower School students and then have a separate dashboard for our 6th form students, because they are more independent in their learning and need to be looking at independent resources and databases.
But then I realised there was too much data all together in one place, so I broke it down in a way that focuses on A-level subjects. We have a large Sixth Form, with about 700 Sixth Formers, so I will be able to show them this at the beginning of the year and it be completely relevant and timely for them.
We now have 16 dashboards available, collating subject specific resources for our staff and students. I spent a lot of time over lockdown investigating digital resources which are freely available and have used this core data to produce subject dashboards which are really popular.
These dashboards include any databases that the school has paid for which focus on particular topics, as well as other quality resources and sources that students and staff can access via Dorset libraries (our local library consortium).
Signposting something like the Dorset Libraries provision through Accessit Library is great, because we can take advantage of something like The Economist for free (if you have a Library membership) which we otherwise couldn’t afford.
Over lockdown, we subscribed to a lot more online databases and I needed a way of getting those out there to students and staff. So, via our internal intranet, I made two buttons related to the library. One is a Library button, and the other is a Digital Resources button. The Digital Resources button takes you to a dashboard that collates subscriptions the school has paid for, broken down by subject.
Student and staff engagement
Accessit Library has completely revolutionized the way I can promote resources to students and staff.
The use of the dashboards has allowed me to make provision of resources a one-stop-shop for students. It’s literally a click of a button for a student now to click on dashboards, and then go to the relevant subject. Everything on that dashboard is free and is directing them to good quality resources – they’re not just on Wikipedia! Now, more students are coming to the desk having checked the catalogue and knowing how to check.
Also, our teachers have been putting together documents and revision sources on the Accessit Library WebApp so our students don’t need to go to different places to find the resources they need for coursework and revision. We’ve also got subject wide reading lists, which have been put together by the heads of each subject, and they can either pick those up via Accessit Library’s quick lists or have them displayed as a carousel on the subject dashboard.
Throughout the process of creating all 16 dashboards, Jenny has loved how customisable they are and appreciates how Accessit Library has enabled her to create them all completely independently.
I manage the digital resources across the school in the Library and I want to be able to manage that so that students can see what there is instantaneously. I don’t want to have to do that via somebody else, and Accessit Library has given me the tools to do that.
Accessit Library Customer Support has also been alongside Jenny whenever she has needed it.
The Accessit Library Customer Support is amazing.
With our previous system, you could ring and be on hold for half an hour and get no answer. But whenever I’ve called Accessit, somebody either instantaneously knows the answer, or they say they’ll get back to you – and they always do!
You know if you ring Accessit Library you’re going to be spoken to by somebody who knows what they’re talking about. Their knowledge is amazing. And if they don’t know something, then they will find out. Which is equally brilliant.
In addition to praising the Accessit Library Customer Support team, Jenny is also a self-proclaimed ‘big advocate of Accessit Library’, hoping to have all schools within their trust using Accessit Library.
There are two schools who have just come into our academy trust, and one has already been persuaded to change their existing Library Management System. I’m also hoping to visit one of the other schools in the next couple of months too.
I think being on the same library management system will be really helpful in terms of consistency between students who come in from feeder schools and are already familiar with how to search the WebApp. The Librarian in one of our feeder schools is also really excited about using the WebApp to promote resources, reading schemes and other literacy based activities.
Accessit Library is up to date, relevant and actually, is a bit of a revelation.
I really like an analogy someone had written, saying, “moving to Accessit Library was like going from a first generation mobile phone to a brand-new iPhone,” because it is like that – you can just do so much.
It’s a good system. I love it. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever about changing. Changing our system to Accessit Library is one of the best things I’ve done since I’ve been in this job.