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School library insights from Latymer Upper School, England

Terri McCargar, Librarian, Latymer Upper School

For Terri, the 2 key aspects of the school librarian’s role are to promote a love of reading and to support teaching and learning.

In this video, she talks about how Oliver v5 has helped to support these goals, her favourite features, and her experience with Softlink Support.

Join Terri as she answers the following questions:

  • What is the librarian’s and/or the library’s most important role or service to the school? (0:10)
  • How does Oliver support you in your role as librarian? (0:47)
  • What are you favourite features in Oliver v5? (1:49)
  • What’s been your experience of Softlink Support services? (5:52)

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Read the transcript

What is the librarian’s and/or the library’s most important role or service to the school? (0:10)

I think a librarian’s role, there’s two key aspects. I think the first is to promote a love of reading, reading for pleasure.

The second is to do with supporting the teaching and learning that happens at the school. And that’s very much involved with information that you see, teaching information literacy skills and supporting the students in becoming independent learners.

How does Oliver support you in your role as librarian? (0:47)

I think Oliver helps with both of those aspects really, because in terms of promoting reading, the new interface is really fun.

It’s really visual and it’s really intuitive.

So it’s easy for enthusiastic readers to find what they want, and for less enthusiastic readers to maybe have suggestions coming at them from sidebars that are on the catalogue.

More importantly I think, with the research aspects, everything is so linked now within Oliver, that it’s easy for them.

There are many different ways that they can search for information, apart from the ways that I might teach them to search for information.

They’re all valid because they’ll all probably yield some results. And it’s an intuitive system for them to get to grips with.

What are you favourite features in Oliver v5? (1:49)

I like a lot about Oliver. I like the management module, it’s very powerful.

I’m a bit of a cataloguing nerd so I like that I can put a lot of really rich information, we import MARC records and then edit them.

So there’s a lot of really rich, detailed information in our catalogue records.

But from a student’s point of view, I don’t think any of that matters. I think the most important thing for them is that the search feature, which they would know, that’s the most important thing for that, and it works well. And it’s on every page.

The basic search is usually pretty effective, there’s also plenty of options for having a more detailed search through the advanced search fields and for drilling down, filtering the search results if you get too many, in different ways. That’s something that we can teach them to do.

The reading list tool is one of my favourite features and I’m really glad that that’s got more prominence in the new interface because it’s great for teachers who see the point of this immediately if they pass us their reading list and we turn it into a reading list in Oliver.

It just makes things really easy for the students. They can see at a glance, what’s available, what isn’t available, what they’re being asked to read.

We use it not only for courses that are taught at school, but also for recent award, shortlist, prize winners, and for recommended fiction that we are suggesting for different year groups.

Even my colleague recently used that feature to develop some “shelf help” reading lists which are to promote mental health awareness. So those are collections of books, she works with our pastoral team nurses, counsellors to find good nonfiction as well as sometimes fiction resources that might cover different topics within mental health.

Those are the sorts of things that students might be embarrassed to ask for directly. But if they know there’s a reading list about it, they can look that up, pretty easily be directed to that.

I also like the new basket feature and the sharing features in Oliver v5. And that the students could share resources with each other, or teachers could share resources with us or directly with students without us needing to make a reading list out of it.

So, if a teacher just spontaneously thinks they want to suggest a book for a lesson, they can now share to Oliver to suggest that book.

I’m sure a lot of us have experience where we’ll see our school internet or Google Classroom filled with links to books on Amazon. It’s really nice now to be able to say there’s an alternative that you could link to the books, actually in the school library collection.

Finally, I really like the search other sources feature, which we’ve renamed at our library, “search another library”.

You can use that to rerun students searches in other libraries. It might be the local public library, it might be university libraries. And it’s a really fantastic way to promote other libraries to students and really help their research, especially if they’re doing extended research for an extended project or coursework in sixth form.

What’s been your experience of Softlink Support services? (5:52)

Well, we’ve only just joined the portal, so we haven’t used that yet. Though I think it’s really a fantastic idea to put everything together in one place.

I like the idea of there being the training that’s offered regularly, the webinars on one portal along with FAQs about support related questions.

We’ve always found Oliver Support to be pretty responsive and especially so since we decided to be hosted.

They’ve always been really receptive, when I’ve called with a suggestion for improvement that they’re happy to pass on to the developers.