2018 - Looking back on another fantastic year


2018 - Looking back on another fantastic year

It’s December and there’s a holiday feeling in the air!

As school libraries everywhere set about cleaning, reporting, and bracing for an influx of last-minute returns before 2018 officially ends, here at Softlink Education we are also beginning to wind down and take stock as we reflect on yet another busy and satisfying year.

We’ve revisited some highlights of our achievements over the past 12 months below. We hope you enjoy this ‘year in review’ post, and we look forward to supporting you with more exciting developments and opportunities to connect in 2019.

A year of firsts

First ever Oliver v5 User Conference

On Friday 18 May 2018, Softlink Education held its first ever Oliver v5 User Conference in Brisbane. We were excited to welcome a full house of 160 enthusiastic Oliver v5 users from all around Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific for an entire day of professional development and networking.

Keynote speaker Kevin Hennah inspired and entertained the audience with a wealth of creative ideas for outfitting the school library space. Other speakers shared the various ways they have been using Oliver v5 and LearnPath in their schools to build and promote innovative, attractive libraries that encourage learning.

Here are some pictures and tweets from the event.

Following the success of this year’s User Conference, we’re looking forward to seeing you again next year in Sydney’s Cockle Bay Wharf for a full day of professional development and networking on Friday 17th May 2019.

Visit the conference page to find out more and register.

New customer portal

2018 saw the new Oliver v5 Community Portal implemented globally.

The portal provides an easy-to-use central location for discovering resources, including training videos, webinar recordings, product release notes, ‘How-to’ articles, and more.

To support customers in transitioning to the portal, Customer Community Manager Susan Gan ran a number of webinars. These sessions were well attended and feedback was very positive. Here are some of the comments we’ve had from customers about the portal.

“This tool is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much for your commitment to developing it and continuing to add to it! I will be recommending Oliver even more now that this is in place.” (Participant from the UK)

“Totally amazing. Thanks.” (Participant from the UK)

Face to face, building relationships

While webinar technology allows us to provide convenient access to support and training for a large number of customers, we absolutely love getting out and meeting members of our community in person.

In 2018, the team attended 14 conferences across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Europe. We also ran dozens of group training sessions in cities and regional areas, as well as multiple ‘roadshows’ combining user groups and showcase sessions.

Thank you to all who attended these sessions and to the host schools who gave us such a warm and generous welcome. Each of these events was memorable and enjoyable for everyone involved. Here are some photos from user groups in Victoria and Papua New Guinea.

If you’ve been thinking about attending or hosting a user group or group training session, click on the links to see what’s involved and then please don’t hesitate to contact the team by emailing grouptraining@softlinkint.com

A year of strong partnerships

Support for industry initiatives

Continuing our strong tradition of advocacy and support for initiatives promoting school libraries and literacy, Softlink Education has been privileged to be involved with a number of important campaigns in 2018, as well as sponsoring Kids’ Lit Quiz in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the world final event.

In Australia, a highlight of the year was collaborating with Holly Godfree and the Students Need School Libraries campaign organisers to deliver an informative webinar ahead of the campaign launch in September. The response to this webinar was phenomenal, with over 600 registrations from around the world and nearly 300 registrants attending the live session. Read more about the Students Need School Libraries campaign in this article and head over to the campaign page to see how you can show your support.

We’ve also had the pleasure of supporting the Great School Libraries campaign in the UK, which launched in September and will run for the next three years.

Here’s a short video we made to help spread the word about these campaigns. We encourage you to visit the campaign websites, follow on social media, play the video in your library, and share it with students and friends.

School Library Surveys

To highlight the issues and opportunities school libraries experience, Softlink conducts annual School Library Surveys for the UK and Europe, and for Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia Pacific region.

These surveys build a critical reference point for understanding changes, impacts, and trends over time. Survey responses provide the basis for informative articles, infographics and reports to support school library advocacy for a range of audiences worldwide.

You can read more about the surveys and see previous survey-based publications here.

A year of exciting developments

New features added to Oliver v5

As always, our development team has continued making updates and improvements to Oliver v5 throughout 2018. In total, there have been 6 releases this year, comprising a total of 143 enhancements. The main areas of focus are illustrated in the chart below.


The team have also continued to make additional features and services available to support customers using LearnPath, our information curating tool for schools.

Notable developments in this area include the LearnPath Community Content Hub (LCCH), a repository of more than 150 ready-made content pages produced by experienced Teacher Librarians, and a dedicated area of the Customer Community Portal for LearnPath users to exchange content and ideas.

The new role of LearnPath Solution Specialist has also been created, with Joel Loveridge bringing his characteristic energy and empathy to this position since September.

Most popular blog posts for 2018

Our blog audience continues to grow and it’s been our great pleasure to welcome a number of guest bloggers throughout the year. Posts by members of our customer community like this one by Margaret Simkin from The Hamilton and Alexandra College and this one by Liz Derouet from Toowoomba Grammar School, as well as insightful articles contributed by our partner organisations such as this one by Polly Krabbe at JCS Online Resources, have helped ensure our blog is a source of varied and relevant information for professionals in the school library sector.

Below are some of the most popular posts for the year (in no particular order). Hover over the image and click through to read each post on the blog, or visit this link to view the full round-up.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our blog and we’d love for you to let us know which topics and types of post you find most valuable.

If you have something to suggest or contribute, please email communications@softlinkint.com or share with us via Twitter @SoftlinkEdu.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Thumbnail images from Softlink Education's 9 most popular blog posts in 2018.