Term 3 1998
- Feature article
- Regular features
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Five Into One
While some Teacher librarians have worked with another Teacher librarian in a single campus or dual campus school, few would have worked in a school with five Teacher librarians. Judi Eggers is one of the five Teacher librarians at the recently inaugurated Eastern Fleurieu School, an R-12 multi campus school in South Australia. She has co-authored this article with her Principal, Bob Heath.
In 1996 after an extensive review into education in the Eastern Fleurieu region of South Australia, five separate schools combined into a seven campus single school, the Eastern Fleurieu School. The school is centred on Strathalbyn, a town about seventy kilometres from Adelaide. Strathalbyn has an R-2 campus, a 3-6 campus, a middle campus (years 7-9) and a senior campus (years 10-12). Smaller R-6 campuses in Ashbourne, Langhorne Creek and Milang mean it is approximately an 85-kilometre trip among all campuses. The student population is 1200 with a staff of 108.
Each of these campuses has its own Head of Campus, a role which provides educational leadership. The school has one Principal who is assisted by a Business Manager who oversees the financial operations of the school.
There are five resource centres within the school and five resource centre managers who share a single budget. Initially, this necessitated spending additional time setting up appropriate structures to develop and manage the collection, facilitate programs, and initiate procedures. However, meetings are now twice a term, with discussions centring on budget and resource sharing, time-sharing and the streamlining of tasks, and the increasing use of technology to service the school's needs. Technology has a key role in ensuring the satellite resource centres, and the campuses, function in a cohesive manner.
This year one resource centre manager will take on the role of coordinating the five resource centres, and administering the single budget for all resource centres. By working together on collection management we can avoid duplication of effort, increase our purchasing power, provide a wider range of resources for our students, and coordinate the hardware and software used in the school. We also assist each other in many tasks such as: culling the collection; stocktaking; investigating emerging information technologies; and preparing resource and technology-based lessons.
This spirit of cooperation will be particularly helpful when the South Australian Department of Education Training and Employment issues the school with the new library software package which is on trial and awaiting approval. This new system will operate using Windows NT as its backbone. Currently, the larger campuses use DYNIX and the smaller campuses use BOOKMARK.
At the appropriate time, all the school's hardware will be upgraded and the current data will be downloaded onto the identical hardware and software being supplied to us. The new system will allow all campus libraries to be linked and make resource sharing and communication even easier. Investigations are currently being made into the feasibility of using a scheduled courier service to move resources among sites.
The use of the Internet will become more widespread and accessible in all campuses in the near future as the sites become linked with each other. The Strathalbyn 7-12 campuses are presently developing a web page to promote the school and its activities. The obvious benefit inherent for students using the Internet and other computer-based technologies is to enhance the teaching/ learning experiences provided to them. However, the communication aspect of the Internet is of vital importance in a multi-site school for all the school community, whether it is simply e-mailing across town or across the world.
Like all new initiatives, particularly ones as complex as that of the amalgamation of five schools, there are numerous hurdles to overcome. The main hurdles are: the introduction and coordination of appropriate technology hardware and integrated software, not only in the library but throughout the school; training staff to use this technology; some resistance to change; the amount of meetings; the development of effective decision-making structures; and the lack of precedents, although this can be an advantage!
Many of these changes seemed lime consuming. However, it became a challenge to find other ways of sharing the load, not only in the resource centre but also in the entire school structure. It is evident that there is a great deal of pride knowing you belong to all the other warm and friendly campuses.