SCIS is more

By Caroline Hartley

Welcome to Term 3, 2021 and to Connections Issue 118.

In reflecting on the past 12 months, I want to acknowledge the power of school libraries and the important role they play as arguably the heart of the school.

School libraries have been evolving over recent decades from traditional knowledge centres that house print collections and archives and where quiet reading, research and individual study are the norm, into modern and interactive learning hubs based on the library learning commons model.

School libraries are reinventing themselves as contemporary places of connection, collaboration and content creation. There is a growing trend towards modular, flexible learning spaces that meet the needs of individuals, groups and classes with multiple creative uses such as maker spaces, coding clubs and studentled groups. Welcoming spaces that support both the curriculum and social development goals of their schools can benefit students in their literacy attainment and reinforce the development of digital citizenship skills. 

When students are asked what their school library means to them, their answers are really compelling. Feedback from Dr Hillary Hughes’s research shows that the library is important to students because they can ‘learn and have fun at the same time’; they can be themselves; they feel safe and have the opportunity to think and learn. (Hughes et al. 2019)

Future-focused school libraries led by teacher librarians support the educational vision and philosophy of their schools and contribute to student learning in unique and specialised ways. Teacher librarians are more than managers of information, they are uniquely placed to provide professional expertise as both managers and users of information services and as leaders of curriculum planning.

Digital learning technology plays a vital role in schools and was indispensable as a means of remote learning as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response. We saw the incredibly agile and collaborative response of technology directors, teacher librarians and classroom teachers in leading the shift of learning delivery from the physical classroom to the online environment.

We've heard many stories from wonderful teacher librarians that demonstrate their adaptability, resilience and creativity in developing strategies for engaging students and maintaining connections while in isolation. Digital storytelling, developing research guides and how-to videos, curating content lists, embedding scaffolded support into learning management systems, and introducing click-and-collect book options were some of the many strategies employed to continue providing essential services to the school community while the physical space was unavailable. Their efforts are truly remarkable.

The phrase ‘libraries are at the heart of the school’ was developed by Caroline Roche, Chair of the School Libraries Group at CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) in the UK. Caroline is founder of the Heart of the School website, a wonderful resource developed ten years ago to share best practices and help other librarians. The Heart website took off across the globe and has kept the notion that libraries are at the heart of the school at the
forefront of our thinking. (Roche 2018)

Our heartfelt thanks to the extraordinarily talented and passionate school library community that we are honoured to work alongside.

ASLA Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2021

SCIS is very pleased to join the Australian School Library Association in supporting the ASLA Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2021 award.

Nominations were received from principals, professional colleagues and members of the school community, recognising individuals with an outstanding contribution to the profession of school librarianship. All nominees demonstrated a high level of achievement in professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement, and have had a positive impact on teaching and learning in their school.

We are thrilled that Anne Girolami, Learning Leader – Information Services at Mercy College, Coburg, Victoria, was recognised and awarded the honour of ASLA Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2021. Anne has over 30 years’ experience as a teacher librarian and has a Master of Business (Information Technology), a Bachelor of Education and a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies. 

Anne has made a significant contribution to ASLA and ALIA, and is recognised for her extraordinary and exemplary work in advocacy to progress the profession of teacher librarianship in Australia.

We congratulate Anne and thank her for her outstanding contribution to students’ life-long learning and the school library community.  

Welcome to new staff at SCIS: Laura Iseman and Adam Styles

We are very pleased to have two new staff join us at SCIS. Laura Iseman joins us as a Cataloguing Officer. Laura is a highly experienced librarian who has worked across a range of library settings and has extensive knowledge of MARC, RDA and Dewey. We also welcome Adam Styles, a qualified librarian with extensive experience in systems administration, data migration, full stack web development and library metadata management across public and school libraries. Adam is our SCIS Systems Coordinator.

Upcoming conference attendance for SCIS

SCIS is attending the APPA/NZPF Trans Tasman Conference (20–23 July), and EduTECH (17–18 August). We are also supporting the New Zealand Association of Teachers of English Conference (14–16 July).As always, please keep in touch with SCIS via social media or [email protected].


Hughes H, Franz J, Willis J, Bland D and Rolfe A (2019) ‘High school spaces and student transitioning: designing for student wellbeing’, in Hughes H, Franz J, and Willis J (eds) School spaces for student wellbeing and learning: Insights from research and practice, Springer, Singapore pp. 97-119.

Roche C (2018) ‘Making the library the true heart of the school’, Connections, Issue 105 Term 2, 2018.

Caroline Hartley

SCIS Manager

Education Services Australia