Originally published in schoolnews, issue 27, Term 4 2014
St Andrew’s College in Christchurch had Softlink’s Oliver v5 library management system installed in July 2013. A private, co-educational school, St Andrew’s has 1300 students on the roll – 400 in the preparatory school, years 1-8, and 900 in the secondary school, years 9-13.
The school had previously used Oliver v3 for about three years, and before that, Alice. The latest version is a complete knowledge, content and library management tool for schools, which provides everything a modern library needs to function efficiently. It manages all the day-to-day operations of the library – the circulation of books, cataloguing, automatic emailing, stock-taking and more. Training on how to use Oliver v5 was provided by the company’s New Zealand business account manager Lyn Walker.
“We upgraded to the new version for a number of reasons, primarily because it is web-based,” the college’s library manager Cathy Kennedy says, “but the main driver was the system’s ability to integrate ebooks into the catalogue. That’s the recent big innovation, whereby our digital library can fully integrate into the catalogue, and users can borrow directly through Oliver and read the e-books on any device.
“The public interface allows users to search the library catalogue from any device,” Mrs Kennedy says.
“They have the ability to access the catalogue from anywhere at any time. Users can also access the library with an app on their smartphone or tablet. Having that 24/7 access to resources is a huge advantage.”
Those resources are not necessarily traditional books or ebooks. They also include video files, images, and all forms of research material.
“By logging into the home page on the library site students have immediate access at any time to a one-stop-shop with a vast collection of reading and research material,” Mrs Kennedy says.
“The home page that the Oliver system allows us to build is a launch pad, a window to a world of information. It includes links to other internet sites, including good New Zealand websites. We also post library news on the home
page, and put up photos of events like Book Week. Book trailers can also be made available for students to view.”
“It can store any kind of files and they are all accessible through the library catalogue, which students as well as teachers from all departments can access.”
The system also catalogues websites, making it easier for users to find helpful websites on particular topics.
“We regularly monitor catalogues of good websites on popular topics and add them to the library catalogue, which includes a link taking them directly from Oliver to the website,” Mrs Kennedy says.
Oliver v5 also provides students with a self-management tool for their library usage.’
“This is particularly good for the younger students. They can log in and see what books they have borrowed, and when books are due back. They can also reserve books, and they can do all this at home or at school.”
A further and significant advantage Oliver v5 has provided for the college is the incorporation of the school’s two libraries into one system.
“That’s another reason we like it, the ability to have two branches on the same system. St Andrew’s has two libraries – the preparatory and the secondary, and all the books and resources are in a ‘one library, two branches’ format. Oliver enabled us to merge the libraries into one system, but still showing clearly where the resources are. It’s the same system right across the campus so we can provide a seamless library service as students move through the college,” Mrs Kennedy says.
Representatives from schools with the Oliver v5 library management system meet regularly to share information and discuss any issues they have. Ms Walker attends all the meetings, giving updates from Softlink and helping with any problems schools might be having.
“If there’s something we would like to be different, she goes back to the IT people at Softlink to see if it can be done. The support we get from Softlink is great. Emails are answered immediately and any issues are solved really quickly and efficiently,” Mrs Kennedy says.