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


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

I am excited to introduce our first school library guest bloggers! Maria Pepe-Micholos, Teacher Librarian and Peter O’Toole, Librarian manage the Resource Centre for the St Michael’s College Secondary Campus at Henley Beach. In this post they discuss how their buzzing Resource Centre is adapting to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and changing school community.

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 with a brief summary of your ideas.

Kristen Lee, Blog Editor


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

Guest post by Maria Pepe-Micholos and Peter O’Toole, St Michael’s College Secondary campus (Henley Beach) Resource Centre.


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

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. 

At the moment we have approximately 1,250 students and 160 staff at the Secondary Campus and in 2018 the college is embarking on a new expansion plan. Year 7 students will move from the Primary Campus to the Secondary Campus and it is anticipated that by 2019 the enrolments here at Henley will be close to 1,500 students.

The growth of the St Michael’s College Secondary Campus has been an exciting and positive challenge for our Resource Centre, and it has encouraged us to explore new ways of expanding resources and services to meet the changing needs of our school community and technological world.

Our 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, utilizing their own devices or the desktop computers, as well as the laser printers.  

Students also enjoy looking at the work of other students in the regularly changing displays, or finding a comfortable, quiet spot for reading on our new and 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.

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.

We have an information literacy skills program that starts in Year 8, with students completing a multifaceted science research task about fish and aquaculture. While they learn a great deal about fish and their environs, they are also enhancing their Oliver v5 search skills and getting an introduction to the wide variety of online information sources that are available.

Accordingly, all year 8 and 9 students also work with the Librarian and Teacher/Librarian in a range of student based activities, which are part of our scope and sequence. The year 8 Academic Honesty program and the Year 9 All my own work program helps students develop an understanding of good scholarship and ethical research practices. 

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

When our students reach Year 11, the Guided Inquiry research is specifically structured to help students prepare for the demands of the year 12 Research Project and it builds on that program that started all the way back in Year 8.

As always, library staff work 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.

Technology has certainly been a major force in our approach to learning, providing new ways of finding information as well as reading for pleasure. All students have a tablet or laptop, and the school has comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage.

Many library resources are now 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 has proven 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 that the library’s physical collection continues to grow.

The physical collection now includes more than 16,000 non-fiction books, 8,000 fiction, and 10,000 English class set books. We continue to subscribe to about 50 periodicals, but although this includes a number of academic journals, because of the accessibility of databases, there is now a greater emphasis on recreational reading magazine subscriptions.

In addition, there is an extensive Audio Visual department that holds 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.

Library staff have been unanimous in identifying conversion to Oliver as a positive development for both student learning and library management – this experience inspiring an eagerness to investigate the potential of features such as Smart Cataloguing and student reviews. Other departments such as Photography, Drama and Music have also recognised the potential of Oliver and are using 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, please click here to read our St Michael’s College case study.