Waihi College: Using title requests to support student research

Librarian and 4 students in the school library, looking at a computer screen

School Librarian, Michelle Sutton, with her students. All rights reserved.

Librarian, Michelle Sutton, ran successful sessions that taught senior students how to find research resources using the school library database and National Library Services to Schools' website and lending service.

About Waihi College

Location Roll Classrooms Years Decile Library
Waihi, Hauraki District 730 Approximately 45 teaching spaces 7–13 4 Yes

Michelle Sutton is passionate about her school librarian role. She is constantly looking for ways to create a welcoming and engaging library and develop library services that support the schools' teaching and learning initiatives.

Michelle, tell us a little bit about your school and what makes it unique or special...

Waihi College is on the outskirts of the town, nestled in a rural farming community. Our school is unique in that it is linked with both Hauraki and Tauranga Moana iwi. We have a whare that's named Whare Maia after a student who passed away. The carvings that are on the outside of the whare relate to our local area. The whare sits at the end of our quad, so visitors have a natural path from the front gate, past our administration block to the quad, which then leads to the whare. The whare is where our senior te reo Māori classes are taught as it's a teaching space.

We have a farm unit and kiwifruit orchard on-site that the students access for teaching units. Our Gateway students go out to workplaces once a week. Sometimes this means driving them to Thames, which is 45 minutes away.

We are also unique as we have a unit for students with special needs in a separate building called the 'Memphis Centre' next to our Whare Maia. These students go out into mainstream classes, where appropriate, with teacher aides who are based in this awesome centre. The centre has its own kitchen, bathroom, and laundry so the students can learn life skills ready for when they leave school. Some of these students also do work experience in the library.

All of this contributes to a really friendly vibe and great relationships with students.

What about your library?

Our school library is in the centre of the school classrooms. It's a large, double-height space, with a mezzanine floor around 4 sides, accessed by 2 stairways. In the past 7 years since starting here, I've worked to make the space a welcoming place for students and staff. I've painted walls bright colours and introduced thought-provoking quotes around the space. I've also put in bean bags and sofas so that the space feels homely for our students. They also enjoy the games that have been introduced and the jigsaw puzzles that are always on the go.

How are you using our lending service to support your library programmes?

Recently, the year 12 and 13 history teacher asked me if I could take her class for a lesson on how to log in and use our school library catalogue. I suggested that I also introduce the students to Services to School's online resources and the National Library Catalogue.

This would allow them to hunt for resources on their topic choice, without being limited to just the resources in our library. It would also give them another platform they could use to gather information themselves.

She thought that was a great idea, so we worked out how it would be best delivered and then put this into practice.

What did the student sessions involve?

I ran an hour-long session with the history class that showed the students how to navigate our Accessit library database. I explained how they can:

  • use Accessit from home
  • make lists
  • reserve resources and collect them from me the next day.

I then showed them the many wonderful online resources from Services to Schools that they can use for their research project as well as print resources listed in the National Library Catalogue.

In the National Library Catalogue, I showed them the difference between articles, books, and other media, and the importance of choosing items that were available. I then showed them the type of information they needed to give to me so I could request the specific titles they wanted through National Library's school lending service.

This was a learning curve for some as they had to learn how to navigate a database. The students asked lots of questions and were amazed at what they could find.

I ran small group sessions later for those students who missed the main session, which also worked well.

How did you manage the title requests?

I wasn’t really expecting students to actually follow through with requests. But to my surprise, they came to me a few days later with lists of resources, books, and articles for me to order from the National Library for them.

The students then came and asked, 'Has my resource arrived?'. And they were impressed when the resources arrived quite quickly.

I talked to the students about how we could make the resources available every day and they agreed to store them in my office until needed.

So, this term I've had a steady stream of students coming to the library to get their resources and study. They're also using resources we have in our catalogue and asking for help if needed.

What benefits came from the library sessions?

I've seen the students' study and research skills improve, which is fantastic. Those going on to tertiary education will take these skills with them. It's also wonderful to see the school library being used like this.

We're planning to offer the sessions to other departments and their senior students. With the most amazing history teacher onboard, I’m sure the other teachers will also want to make the most of what our library can offer.

I can’t wait to see the outcome with a new bunch of students.

#LendingService #InformationLiteracy #LibraryProgrammes