Term 4 1993
- Feature article
- Regular features
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LEARNING FOR THE FUTURE: DEVELOPING INFORMATION SERVICES IN AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS
This book is more than a standards document to replace Books and Beyond and Into the 21st Century. It attempts to set a context for the development of library and information services in Australian schools in terms of both approaches and standards. It was developed jointly for ASLA and ALIA by a reference group, co-ordinated by Norma Jeffery and was developed from early drafts written by Gwen Gawith.
It is based upon a broad view of the school as an information environment which must be responsive to the needs of the learner. It advocates a co-operative approach to the development of the learning environment.
Learning for the Future divides the role of the school library into five interrelated domains. Discussion relating to each of the domains, forms a chapter of the book.
The core domain which is central to all others is learners and learning. This domain encapsulates concepts of co-operative planning and teaching for the development of information skills programmes, to enable students to develop skills necessary to access information in its broadest sense.
The first of the four related domains is teachers and teaching, which incorporates the notion of teacher-6 librarian as facilitator of access to information for curriculum purposes by teachers.
Resourcing the curriculum assumes the need for a relevant, dynamic and responsive resource collection to support the curriculum. This chapter provides quantitative standards for collection size. These standards have increased between 15% and 20'Yo the standards for collection size recommended in both Books and Beyond and Into the 21st Century.
Providing access to information concerns the organisation and access to resources and the use of information technology to facilitate these processes. Quantitative standards are provided for automated catalogue (OPAC) terminals.
Developing the physical environment is concerned with space and facilities within the library resource centre. Standards are provided for space allocation, lighting, shelving and seating. The standards recommend the provision of seating for 12% of the school population. This represents an increase from the 10% which was recommended in Into the 21st Century.
The penultimate chapter is devoted to staffing. It defines the role of the teacher-librarian in relation to co-operation, information skills and technology in addition to the organizational role. Standards are provided for recommended minimum staffing levels of professional and ancillary library staff. Recommended minimum staffing provisions are based on a relationship to total teaching staff, rather than the number of students, as in Books and Beyond. The staffing levels recommended represent a significant decrease in professional staffing from those recommended in Into the 21st Century.
While Learning for the Future mentions other computer networks within the school, it makes no attempt to provide standards or to address the issue of the converging roles of libraries and computer centres as providers of information within schools. It is likely that this convergence of roles and the development of the concept of the virtual library will impact on some aspects of this document such as the standards for OP ACs, for the physical environment and possibly even for staffing.
The conclusion of the document makes reference to the need for information literacy in our society. "Power over information technology ultimately resides in power over the information itself." (p48-49) Learning for the Future is an essential tool, for teacher-librarians and educational administrators, for the development and evaluation of programmes which empower students with these lifelong, independent learning skills. Learning for the Future is published by Curriculum Corporation for $19.95.
I don't know about you but I still find that the year 7-10 students, on the whole, need a lot of instruction with the KAWARECD-ROM software. Yes, I know that it is fast and efficient but try as I will I find that your average student thinks that it is too much trouble to work it out unless someone is there to give them a hand.
About a year ago John Graham from Educad asked me to trial Electronic Guidelines. This is a PC version of Guidelines. The advantage with this version is that it is completely menu driven and has built in location codes tailored to your own collection. Not only am I a convert but the student response speaks for itself. Now I can suggest to a student to try Electronic Guidelines first and I will help if they need it. More often than not students are able to operate it themselves following the screen instructions. Proof of the pudding is that these students come back and use it again.
The menu for Electronic Guidelines provides a user with simple options. When doing a search, the search screen is clearly divided into separate blocks with the option to provide 3 like-terms in each block. There is space for each keyword separated by the word OR. Each block is separated by the word AND. This is a very clear and simple way to instruct students about boolean searching.
As each keyword is typed in an authority list of headings pops up which prevents lack of success caused by incorrect spelling or incorrect keyword. When the word is selected from the list it automatically selects itself for your search and moves to the next space.
When you have selected your words, EG asks for confirmation and enumerates where it is up to in the search. Often a student will watch the number of articles appear only to watch them whittle away as the AND keywords are added from the second block. It is then clear at which stage of their search they went wrong. They can go back and remove keywords before they go on if they wish to find more articles.
The screen then prompts the user to select the Print to Screen or Print options from the main menu before flicking back to the menu .... this is the impressive bit...
When I first received the programme in our library I sat down with the list of journals in Guidelines and the list of journals in our library and added a collection code for each journal. The codes I chose relate to location in my library, for instance my 4 location codes are:
B Bound Journal Shelves
W Under west windows
R Reserve Desk
U Check Union list
... Back to the main menu ... The student selects Print to screen and the titles list in order based on the codes entered when the programme was installed. The librarian can choose the order of the codes based upon the main location area. This way the student sees what is available in their library first. Moving from screen to screen using the Pageup and Pagedown keys the programme is fool-proof (This means that those Luddite Year 12s and teachers can also manage it easily.)
But what about disk space I hear you say? At about 11 meg a year it is not too much to ask for the hit rate amongst reluctant users. I have decided to keep my AUSTGUIDE for older issues. If you are really worried about the long term disk-space problems, the capacity is being built in to be able to delete the earliest copies. You will even be able to chose to add only the journals held in your library if you chose (or don't have a good Periodical Union List).
It is networkable, site licences are available and you receive monthly updates. It provides an option for those people who haven't got CD-ROM yet. But I still believe the main advantage is that you spend less of your time giving individual instruction to back up the umpteenth class demonstration of AUSTGUIDE on KA WARE which is, lets face it, for the persistent and conscientious, not the average plodder.
This is not an advertisement, but you will notice that it is listed on your printed Guidelines renewal form. Have a look at the price but think about it in terms of staff time and independent learning skills.
DIRECTORY OF AUSTRALIAN DATABASES
The Directory of Australian Databases on CD ROM is the result of a survey conducted during 1992, by the Australian Database Development Association (ADDA), to gather information on publicly available Australian and New Zealand databases. Although the directory is not comprehensive, the compilers believe that it is reasonably complete.
The directory is well organised, with the databases listed alphabetically by name. Cross references are provided from alternative names and acronyms. The index access is excellent. It includes indexes of the information providers, the publishers, as well as a subject index. A sample subject search on LAW AND LEGISLATION listed thirteen databases that could be useful.
The database entries are clear and concise. Each entry lists the:
- information provider;
- publisher of the database;
- a description of the subject coverage and usefulness of the database.
- type (bibliographic, directory, full text, numeric, or images);
- update frequency;
- compatibility for IBM or macintosh; and
Also interesting is the introduction to the directory. It not only explains how to use the guide, but provides charts relating to the breakdown of subject coverage of Australian databases, and statistics on the categories of information providers.
With a purchase price of $20.00, this directory is a useful tools for libraries interested in CD ROM information delivery.
FILM & VIDEO FINDER ON CD-ROM
This new product from Informit provides a guide to availability of film and video in Australia and New Zealand. The disc runs on KAware software which will be familiar to users of most of the other Informit products which include discs such as Austguide and Austrom. The disc comes with a detailed manual with simple explanations for getting started.
The disc consists of two databases: Films and videos; distributors. Films included are from categories including feature film, shorts and experimental films, documentaries and educational programmes. They also include overseas titles distributed in Australia. The criterion for inclusion was availability of the title to the general public for purchase, loan or rental.
The disc provides powerful searching capability. The default search is the familiar CROSS SEARCH which searches across all fields. Other searchable fields include TITLE alphabetically or by keyword, TOPIC by phrase or keyword, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, PRODUCTION COMPANY, COUNTRY, YEAR, CAST, FORMAT, SYNOPSIS, AW ARDS and SUPERTEXT SUBTITLES.
When a search is performed, the items seemed to appear in a random order (possibly order of entry). It is likely that future editions of the databases will have more complete information. Not all records had an entry for TOPIC and SYNOPSIS was variable, with some records having quite a long synopsis while others had one word such as comedy or crime. There was also variability in the type of information in the synopsis field, for example in a cross search performed on Macbeth some but not all records contained a reference to Shakespeare in the synopsis.
The records include the censorship rating which is useful for schools. A useful addition for the future would be the ability to search by age appropriateness.
The power of being able to search for all films by a director or starring a certain actor or with a certain keyword in the title certainly outweighs any minor deficiencies in the data.
The second database is a directory of distributors. Distributors are encoded in the film database. This database allows a search by code, or name and provides name, address and contact details.
Film and Video Finder is available from Informit. Single discs are available to schools at $125, while the subscription of two discs per year is $225 for schools.