Educators scramble to replace library services

The National Library says that class sets of books will no longer be available to individual teachers. Instead it will provide “sets of high quality, curated curriculum topic resources for…


The National Library says that class sets of books will no longer be available to individual teachers. Instead it will provide “sets of high quality, curated curriculum topic resources for which there is demonstrated demand”.

There is still confusion about what the National Library Service’s new Services to Schools will include. EA asked specifically if the annual reading loans of fiction and non-fiction would include class sets, but could not get a straightforward answer. EA was told: “Schools will be asked to provide information to guide the selection of their (annual book) loan, to ensure we tailor the loan to their needs.”

Teachers will be able to request specific books through the National Library in addition to the annual reading loan, but it is not clear if they can choose exact titles, very specific topics such as stick insects, dinosaurs or banking or if they can request titles related to general areas such as nature and numeracy.
The National Library Service has said that it will provide an “enhanced online service”, but it is not clear what that will look like. The National Library says it will “build on the foundations” of the National Library’s schools online delivery channel, but was not specific about what that meant.

Teachers will have to look for ways to fill the gap. For some that will mean evolving digitally to cope with the change that has been thrust upon them. Some schools will respond by increasing school library budgets, says the School Library Association of New Zealand’s president Bridget Schaumann : “But even a very well stocked school library would not cope with an entire syndicate or year group working on one topic.”

New sources of classroom materials will emerge as time goes on. In Tauranga, for example, says principal Ian Leckie, teachers have access to the House of Science, which provides resources. If, however, he wanted material about Korea or India” because he has many students with connections there” finding class sets of books could be difficult.  The School Journal will fill some gaps, says Leckie. But uncertainty about the Journal doesn’t make him confident that will be the answer.

The Ministry of Education will not provide any additional resources to schools. But Dr Graham Stoop, Deputy Secretary Student Achievement, points out that the ministry has more than 3500 hard copy resources to support curriculum delivery. He says there are also many places for schools to access sources and these will evolve and grow. They include: the ministry’s Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI), Artsonline, DigiStore, NZmaths, and its teaching material page which includes online resources and online versions of resources also available in print from the ministry, such as Figure it Out and Connected.
The National Library’s page at is also a portal for schools, says Stoop.
“Many government agencies and other organisations provide resources to schools, for example, Seafood New Zealand, New Zealand Fire Service, The Heart Foundation, Genesis Energy. Public and school libraries provide resources that can support curriculum delivery.” He adds that students’ skills in information literacy and digital literacy are growing.

In the meantime, some schools will buy hardcopy collections. But “because the timeline has been so short it is not possible for school libraries to budget for this massive change this year,” says Schaumann.
Many teachers will turn to EPIC, at . Every school has access to this via Te Kete Ipurangi.

Schaumann encourages schools and librarians to access the professional development that can teach them how to curate websites for their schools. “There can be great resources curated – specific to the school and the topic – and made available via the various platforms schools use, such as Moodle and Livebinders.”
For some teachers the answer will come through, N4L’s education portal. The portal is both a repository of information as well as a focussed portal to the Internet.

Teachers and principals EA spoke to had difficulty overcoming their horror at the end of the National Library’s school lending service as it was. Browsing the internet isn’t the same experience for a child as having a book in their hands, says Leckie.
Students flick back and forth through the pages, he says, as they learn. It’s often difficult to find where you’ve been on the Internet and where you’ve seen information. And some  just can’t learn while staring at a screen for a long time.”
Children can “read” eBooks online but the process of finding them isn’t easy – even with N4L’s portal

As time goes on, says Chris South, head of dynamic services at N4L, teachers will add more and more links to both free and paid-for ebooks, which can be used as resources in class. An example of that is the free Matariki and Her Sisters published by teacher Sonya Van Schaijik, publicised through Pond and available for free through
South also believes that the consumption patterns of how children research material will change. In the meantime, finding such content through Pond, Google or other digital services can be a very time consuming process.

– Diana Clement

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