New Zealand News

By Rosa-Jane French

A recent survey shows that school librarians in New Zealand are responding to the challenges of information technology.

Early in 1995 the School Library Network conducted a survey of school librarians in New Zealand, which covered questions relating to pay and conditions (an ongoing source of dissatisfaction), as well as questions, which we hoped would show the level of technology now operating in secondary school libraries. Using data from previous surveys we were able to make the following observations.

In 1988 and 1989 survey questions about computers were not asked as computers were rare in school libraries. By 1991, 31% of school libraries has a computer system, 69% did not. By 1993 this had increased to 40% and in 1995 58% were fully computerised. A reasonable percentage are now partially computerised and a high percentage are intending to computerise.

There has been a considerable increase in school libraries using CD-ROMS. 36% in 1993 to 67& in 1995. The survey asked which titled had been purchased and responses were quite varied with multimedia encyclopedias being the most popular, following by the Index New Zealand CD-ROM. The next most common titles covered major curriculum areas, with a long list of titles held by only one or two schools. While this shows the wide range available, it perhaps also reflects the difficulty school librarians have in previewing CD-ROMs. It requires setting up a formal demonstration or visiting another school library to see what they have already purchased. In the end the top thirty were published as a list, although it was recognised that some titles were acquired 'bundled' with hardware rather than actively selected by librarians. The majority of schools had a tower, some had CD-ROMs stacked while a few had a juke-box arrangement.

Another survey question asked was whether there was a modem in the library. In 1993, 18% of respondents had a modem, which increased to 33% in 1995. The modem linked school libraries to the Internet (23) NZ Online (18) and Kiwinet (12). There is considerable interest among school librarians in the Internet and it is fitting that NZLIA will focus this year on information technology (including the Internet) in National Library Week, the Queenstown Conference and the N-ext Strategy.

The statistics from the School Library Network surveys show how in a short period of four years school libraries have become immersed in technology and many librarians have gone through dramatic learning curves. We must accept the challenge of keeping up to date with technology and steering its development to the benefit of our clients - the students and teachers in our schools.

Rosa-Jane French


Rangi Ruru GIrls School