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Responding to the needs of an evolving school community in the St Michael’s College Resource Centre


St Michael’s College Resource Centre

In 2017, Maria Pepe-Micholos and Peter O’Toole shared how the buzzing Resource Centre at St Michael’s College adapted to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and changing school community.

This blog post discusses how they met these challenges and addressed the changing needs of the school community by expanding resources and services while supporting Information Literacy learning.

Responding to the needs of an evolving school community in the St Michael’s College Resource Centre

St Michael’s College in South Australia is an R-12 school founded by the De La Salle Brothers in 1954. They have two separate campuses, approximately 8 kilometres apart - the Primary Campus at Beverley which caters for R-6 and the Secondary Campus at Henley Beach caters for 7-12.

Over the last ten years, the college has grown significantly. In 2008 girls were enrolled for the first time in Year 8, and by 2012 the Secondary Campus was a fully co-educational campus.

In 2017 there were approximately 1,250 students and 160 staff at the Secondary Campus. In 2018 the college embarked on a new expansion plan, moving the Year 7 students from the Primary Campus to the Secondary Campus. In 2020 the enrolment numbers have grown to almost 1,500 students.

St Michael's library

As part of St Michael’s Integrated Learning Technology Program, all Secondary students have a College supplied device (ILT Device), which is replaced every 3 years, and the school has comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage.

According to Maria Pepe-Micholos (Past Teacher Librarian) and Peter O’Toole (Past Librarian), the growth of the St Michael’s College Secondary Campus was an exciting and positive challenge for the Resource Centre that encouraged them to explore new ways of expanding resources and services to meet the changing needs of the school community and technological world.

The Secondary Campus Resource Centre offers a flexible learning space that can seat over 100 students, including accommodating up to two classes. These spaces are in high demand during lesson times and particularly before school and lunchtime.

“Our library is often full and buzzing with students working on assignments, quizzing each other in preparation of their next test, utilising their own devices or the desktop computers, as well as the laser printers,” they said.

St Michael’s College Henley Beach - school library

Students also enjoy looking at the work of other students in the regularly changing displays, or finding a comfortable, quiet spot for reading on the popular egg chairs or inviting reading nooks.

Many elements associated with the Resource Centre complement this sense of a positive space for study, research, and reading.


“There is the practical support that our library staff provide in research, resource location and fiction selection, receipt of senior students’ assignments, resolution of network password issues, updating printing credit, and assistance in resolving basic computer challenges.”

Maria and Peter describe how they develop students Information Literacy skills

Pre-planning with Heads of Department and individual teachers ensures that skills to access, evaluate, and creatively use information are frequently incorporated into library-based research.

At the time of writing, Maria and Peter were running an Information Literacy skills program that started in Year 8, with students completing a multifaceted science research task about fish and aquaculture. While they learnt a great deal about fish and their environs, they were also enhancing their Oliver v5 search skills and getting an introduction to the wide variety of online information sources that are available.

All year 8 and 9 students worked with the Librarian and Teacher Librarian in a range of student-based activities, part of their scope and sequence. The year 8 Academic Honesty program and the Year 9 All my own work program helped students develop an understanding of good scholarship and ethical research practices.

St Michael's Henley beach Resource Centre

When students reached Year 11, the Guided Inquiry research was specifically structured to help students prepare for the demands of the year 12 Research Project, which built on the program that started all the way back in Year 8.

In addition to developing skills in Information Literacy, as part of the development of ICT literacy, many year 9 students created original digital book trailers, a number of which became available via the college intranet for all students to access recommendations on what to read next.

Library staff also worked closely with the English Faculty to promote and administer the Premier’s Reading Challenge in Years 8 and 9. Another highlight of reading promotion with year 8 students is the annual Readers’ Cup in which up to 13 teams of 6 students read 6 selected books over a term and then compete for the cup, a class lunch and other prizes.

Maria and Peter discuss resourcing for 21st century learning

St Michael's Henley beach Resource Centre

According to Maria and Peter, technology was a major force in their approach as it provides new ways to find information and read for pleasure.

Many library resources became available 24/7 - an expanding range of e-books and databases including the Gale Virtual Reference Library, 4 EBSCO databases, Weblinks, Issues in Society, Oliver v5, and OverDrive.

OverDrive eBooks was launched in 2016 and proved to be a clear preference for many students, whilst a significant number remain committed to the hard copy.

“We see this as evidence that an almost parallel development of physical and digital fiction resources is warranted and because of that the library’s physical collection also continues to grow,” they said.

The physical collection included more than 16,000 non-fiction books, 8,000 fiction, and 10,000 English class set books. They subscribed to about 50 periodicals - including a number of academic journals. Because of the accessibility of databases, they created greater emphasis on recreational reading magazine subscriptions.

In addition, the extensive Audio-Visual department that held a wide variety of equipment and an extensive video collection – notably a steadily growing ClickView resource, (currently 6,500 programs). Library staff have been working closely with teachers to provide support for optimizing the potential of ClickView by incorporating it in the Oliver Federated Search, and keeping them up-to-date with new developments and possibilities such as Flip lessons, editing and creating interactive lessons.

Response to Oliver v5

Library staff were unanimous in identifying conversion to Oliver as a positive development for both student learning and library management.

“This experience has inspired an eagerness to investigate the potential of features such as Smart Cataloguing and student reviews,” they said.

Other departments such as Photography, Drama, and Music also recognised the potential of Oliver and used the system to manage and circulate department-based equipment and books.

“We are pleased with the direction that Oliver v5 is taking and are confident that the system will evolve alongside the school and our Resource Centre.”

If you’re interested in discovering more about how Oliver v5 is supporting the evolution of the St Michael’s College Resource Centre, read our St Michael’s College case study.


We’re looking for guest bloggers who are passionate about school libraries. If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with us on communications@softlinkint.com with a brief summary of your ideas.


Editor’s note: this post was originally published in June 2017 and was updated for freshness, relevance and accuracy in February 2020.