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Rototuna High Schools Case Study

“[The webinars are] in good time slots for New Zealand and I like the fact it’s only an hour. The support is just absolutely amazing!”

Jackie Rassell, Teacher Librarian
At a Glance
Chosen Solution
Key Objectives
  • Provide an engaging, integrated 21st century library experience for students and staff
Core Benefits to Users
  • ​Simple workflows for library staff and volunteers
  • Attractive, easy to use interface
  • Anywhere, anytime access
  • A one-stop-shop to access the collection, databases, and news
Supported Users and Library Staff
  • ​1,800 students
  • 1 full-time Teacher Librarian
  • 1 part-time Library Assistant
  • Several teams of parent volunteers
  • Large cohort of student librarians

About Rototuna High Schools

Rototuna High Schools

Rototuna High Schools comprise both a Junior and Senior School on a single site approximately 11 hectares in size, in Hamilton on New Zealand’s North Island. Since opening in 2016 with 634 students in the Junior School, Rototuna has grown to a total enrolment of over 1,800 in Years 7 – 13. The Junior and Senior Schools occupy separate physical spaces and are connected by the library, which is situated right at the heart of the Rototuna campus.

A vibrant, contemporary school library

Teacher Librarian Jackie Rassell has managed the library almost from the start, and has built a collection of over 11,000 physical books and around 17,000 eBooks and audiobooks. She said this combination of traditional and new resources, as well as the library’s multiple facets, reflect the school’s vision which is to offer an innovative and flexible learning experience that aligns with the demands and opportunities inherent in future-oriented schools.

Jackie said the ability to offer students anywhere, anytime access to resources via the school’s library system was an important aspect of this approach.

“We’re 100% BYOD, which means most students access the library collection from their devices as well as visiting the physical space.”

Easy access to resources

The school chose Oliver v5 Hosted library management system, and also make use of the Orbit junior and middle school interface included with Oliver v5. As Jackie explained, the system acts as Rototuna library’s ‘shop window’, through which students can easily see the resources and services available to them.

“Part of my job is to make sure that the students know what resources are there, and Oliver v5 really helps with that.”

Oliver news page

Just like a real shop window, Oliver v5’s flexible interface enables Jackie to keep the library fresh and inviting for students by regularly highlighting new attractions.

“I use the News page in Oliver v5 to display books of the month, authors of the month, links to interesting news, awesome blogs and links to all our databases.”

In addition to promoting the library to students, Jackie said Oliver v5 also allows her to connect more easily with teachers and parents.

“We’ve got lots of students who love personalising their Oliver v5 interface, and teachers use [the News page] to jump off into all the different databases.”

“We also do parent seminars that are really popular, where we show parents what’s available on the library system.”

Working better, together

Jackie has a part-time library assistant and a large number of enthusiastic volunteers who assist with various tasks in the library. She said the ability to set individual access levels within Oliver v5 made it much easier for her to manage these human resources.

“I’ve got a whole team of volunteers and student librarians who come to help out in the library, and I’ve been able to give them different access to the library system. Team leaders have full circulation access so they can issue books and run their whole team and shift, which frees me up to do other things like help students choose books.”

Teachers also benefit from the ease of access to resources that Oliver v5 provides, and regularly seek out Jackie’s specialist skills as a qualified Teacher Librarian to teach research skills.

“Everyone knows how to get to the library page and everything’s connected from there, so it’s really easy for me to help the teachers by taking students through basic researching skills and introducing them to the databases and to worlds other than Google.”

“Oliver v5 syncs in beautifully with our whole catalogue and it’s gorgeous.”

Making the library feel special for students

With most students already enjoying using Oliver v5 to explore the catalogue, the library has become very popular at Rototuna.

“Oliver v5 looks amazing! It’s a really slick product and the kids love it. I think it’s really helped make the library cool.”

Jackie said she has had great success with introducing features in Oliver v5, like book reviews and personalisations, to special interest groups among the students, such as the book club and literature quiz team.

The library’s popularity has opened up even more opportunities for Jackie and her library team to collaborate with teachers.

“They really enjoy the feeling of being special. I have to limit access to book reviews, as they’re so popular!”

“We have two teachers on duty in the library at morning break and three every lunch time.”

“Because the kids like the library so much, there’s a lot of support from other staff for library activities.”

“There’s always something happening in the library and when teachers are planning something I’m always included too. They come and talk to me and we work out together how the library can support them.”

Building a whole-school reading culture

Building a whole school reading culture

As a former restaurant manager, Jackie knows the value of events for building a thriving community and she makes sure there’s always something happening in Rototuna library.

“The idea is to create as many things as possible to encourage kids to come into the library space, and it’s working: we’re only new but we recorded over 12,000 library loans this year.”

Jackie said the simple, attractive and intuitive interface in Oliver v5 had helped the library achieve such a high loan rate.

“Oliver is just really good at being awesome for the kids. They can say what they’re interested in and receive personalised recommendations from the system, they can make reservations and renew online, they get personalised emails to say that their reservations are in, and they will literally come running to the library to get their book. They can do it all independently from us and it’s easy for them as well.”

All-abilities inclusiveness with Orbit for Oliver v5

According to Jackie, another advantage of Oliver v5 is the ability to offer picture-based searching of the catalogue with the Orbit interface.

Jackie said Orbit’s pick and click search capability helped smooth the transition from junior to senior school for many students, and was particularly helpful for students with learning disabilities, second language learners, and reluctant readers.

“If students have a language issue, or a learning disability, or just find searching the catalogue too scary, Orbit takes the pressure off them if they can start by just looking at the pictures.”

Care and support in the right time zone

Finally, Jackie said she was very impressed by the care and commitment shown by Softlink Education Support staff.

“I don’t call often but [when I do] I find them absolutely amazing and supportive. They will stay on the line until it’s fixed or keep calling back and checking that you’ve solved the problem.”

“I like the webinars too. They’re in good time slots for New Zealand and I like the fact it’s only an hour. The support is just absolutely amazing!”

Jackie has recently signed up to the new Community Portal and said she is looking forward to exploring the tool and joining discussion forums to connect with other Oliver v5 users around the world.

Further Reading