My name is Mary Bodmin and it is my pleasure to introduce our team to you. On my L/R is Elizabeth Atkinson, who is our Library Manager, and next to her is Tracey Westall, who is a part-time Librarian along with myself. I would like to give you a brief introduction to the history of Avondale College before we talk about our Library Book Club and Blog. In 1939, around the time of the beginning of WW11, the Government had set aside land in the Rosebank Rd area for educational purposes. By 1943 Peter Fraser, PM of the day, asked Sir James Fletcher, of Fletcher Construction to start building the school on the land in Avondale. But it would first be a hospital with 2000 beds for the US Military Authorities. It was a hospital for only 6 months, and in April 1944 work began to convert the buildings into 2 schools an Intermediate and a Technical High school. Avondale Technical High School was significant because it was a co-educational high school and not a grammar school and students came from far and wide to attend. The 6th Feb 1945 - 550 pupils and 21 teachers gathered at Avondale Technical High School to begin their school year amongst the noise of the workmen who hammered and drilled for a further 3 months as they finished converting the hospital into classrooms. The school was well-equipped with specialist buildings- including a library!! In 1946 the &quot;Emu Parade&quot; started - all the students paraded in long lines across the field: at a given signal, they bent and picked up the small stones, sometimes to a given number, and piled them at their feet; another signal and they all moved forward repeating the process. Back rows collected what the front rows missed then picked up the piles of stones and emptied them into a container for disposal. 12 lorry loads of small stones were taken from the 5 acres which were then ready to be sown in grass for the football grounds. The following year this procedure was repeated in a different section of the grounds and another area was then ready for sowing.
1948 saw Avondale Technical High School renamed Avondale College. 28th March 1980 Sir James Fletcher (son of the first Sir James Fletcher) opened the new Nelson Block free-standing Library building. During 1990 an evening class was in progress, when a fire was spotted and the alarm was raised. Fire crews with 26 appliances attended, but even so a 12 classroom block, the administration block, assembly hall and gymnasium were razed! The fire raged unseen and unimpeded through the ceiling spaces from one interconnected building to the next for 50 metres before it burst out of the ceilings engulfing all these buildings. Later it was found an electrical fault was the cause of the fire which gutted a quarter of the classrooms at Avondale College. The Ministry of Education came around to assess the buildings and work out how to rebuild parts of the school. A number of staff were asked about placement of buildings – I was included in this discussion and put in a plea to consider rebuilding the library (which wasn’t affected by the fire) but was out on its own away from all the classrooms. My plea must have been passionate enough to have our new library built in the centre of the school. This Library opened for the students in March 1993 and once again Sir James Fletcher officially opened the Library October 1993. Last year the Library interior was refurbished and this is how it looks today.
I would now like to go into the reasons we started a book club. We wanted the students to have a more positive view of the library. Our aim was to lift the profile of the library throughout the school. And to bring a bit of fun and freshness. We were looking for ways to increase issues and to increase the student participation in the library.
We had identified that there was lower than expected usage of the library and we wanted to create something new and different to attract the students. After researching on the internet and looking at what other libraries were doing we thought a book club might be a good idea.
Our aim was to get the students excited about reading and interested in the wide variety of books we had on offer. We wanted to showcase and promote the reorganisation of the new collections including the Graphic Novels and Picture Books and the refurbishment of the library. A book club would create a platform for all ages and reading abilities to come together to share books news and reviews with each other. We hoped that the excitement of the book club would generate interest for those students who would not normally use the library
Once we had created an interest we felt we could move on to encouraging the students to try something new: by exploring different genre, being aware of other authors and to develop a wider reading focus.
Picking the right time to start the Book club was essential so we decided to launch it during Library Week. We used Library Week to promote the book club and the refurbishment of the library which not only gave us a new look but also a new direction. One of the events we organised during this week was a Library Breakfast for the HOD’s and the Executive. We used this event to advertise the new look and structure of the collections as well as informing them about the creation of the book club. We highlighted the book club on our new library website and designed posters to be displayed around the school. We created sign up forms to monitor the interest level of students and to gather vital information that helped us decide on the structure of the book club.
Like many of you we have been on the web2 course and the Introduction to School Libraries Courses run by the National Library. After attending these and researching on the web what other schools were doing we knew we needed to get busy and join the web2 age. We wanted to update our library image and start to incorporate web 2 technology within our library. Within the design of our school intranet and the internet restrictions placed on our students we were limited in what we could achieve on the library website. It was a challenge working through what was possible and what was achievable for us at Avondale College. But we think we achieved a successful compromise. We decided to create a stand- alone blog for the book club. It is designed so that anyone can view but only book Club members can post and comment. Members are made aware of their responsibilities and the privilege of trust that is given to them when blogging. The blog is monitored by library staff and it is the only blog the school management supports. We wanted to attract students that wouldn’t normally be into books but were interested in computer technology (this had an interesting outcome as we will go into later) We hoped to use the blog as an ongoing activity for Club members as a means of communication and as a source of information and news . Our goal was to create a forum for students to contribute and to be able to write and comment about what they and others were reading and encourage others to join.
We had 21 students sign up for the book club and we were pleased with this initial response. To keep the numbers manageable and to allow for discussion we decided to start up 2 groups and have them running on 2 different days at lunchtime. We split the groups into junior and senior students. We asked our TLR for recommendations of staff members who would be interested and available to help us with the groups. our research showed that the majority of book clubs were run on the basis of all members reading the same book. We did not want to take this approach for several reasons: We do not have multiple copies of titles ; we didn’t want the club to be like an “English lesson”; and because we wanted to get the students excited about reading and interested in a wider variety of books, we did not want to limit their choice. So at the first meetings the students were asked to vote for their favourite genre. We explained that for the voting we had created an online survey which was located on the blog . We then talked through the procedure for joining the blog and filling out the survey. We set the next meeting time hoping that everyone would have voted for their favourite genre and that they were all signed up for the blog. When analysing the survey results we were surprised by the low return rate. On investigation we realised that we had technical issues with the blogging and so we quickly printed off some survey forms and handed them out to students. At the second meeting we announced the winning genre, which was fantasy, a selection of books were made available for the students to pick. The following meeting was the discussion time on what they had been reading. At the end of the year we reviewed our approach and discovered that although the students were keen, the club and blog were not having as much impact as we had anticipated. So we knew we would have to develop a new strategy for the new school year.
So at the beginning of the school year for 2009 we investigated the reasons for the lack of postings and comments to the blog. To our surprise we discovered that the majority of the book club were not bloggers. It was new technology for them and they were hitting too many hurdles. Forgetting passwords after set-up ( an issue we still have concerns about) Some students had used their hot-mail accounts to join the blog – but these could not be used at school as due to our school web policy they were restricted. Having to go through the process of setting up a Google account was both time consuming and highlighted a lack of computer skills amongst the students. The majority of students lacked confidence in their ability to post – not only in their writing ability but also the technology of posting adding book covers and photos . We had hoped that students would become more involved with the running of the club but it did not work out that way. We recognised that the group needed direction and organization. Loan periods and borrower limits were not making it easy for club members to have the books issued for as long as they needed them. All of these trials and errors needed to be resolved for the book club to be a success.
At the beginning of 2009 we thought about what we would do with the Book Club and decided to advertise it during Orientation Week. During the first week of school we have a variety of fun activities in the library at lunchtime to encourage the new Yr9s to come and use the library. We asked the English teachers to promote the Book Club to their Yr9 classes and we promoted it ourselves during the Yr9 introductory visits to the library. Marketing the book club in this way: as part of a larger event, again proved successful. With the numbers that signed up being in the high 20s, this reinforces the concept of picking the right time to do your marketing. A longer loan period of 4 weeks and an increased borrower limit of 6 books was created as an incentive for the Book Club members. The students were keen to get started the enthusiasm was there we had done all our marketing let’s get the first meeting under way. The first meeting was being organised when an issue arose that was to affect the way the club was run. We discovered that the teachers we had supporting us last year were no longer able to commit to a specific day to help with the book club. What were we to do? Rather than delay the start of the book club while we tried to find other help, we decided to keep the momentum going and get the club up and running , we decided to run it ourselves. Because of our staffing levels and lunchtime being a busy time we could only have 1 staff member running it, and so we decided to have 1 large group on one day only. We thought about our existing work load and realised we would have to take more control of the style of the club. The first thing we did was to decide a theme for the meeting rather than letting the students decide for themselves. Research was carried out on various book club sites for ideas and after much discussion we decided the first theme would be “Books that Changed My Life” – or” Influential Books”. When we mentioned this theme with other staff and family members this evoked plenty of discussion and suggestions of titles to use. We were into our first meeting - it was held in the fiction area of the library on the comfy seats – at lunchtime while the library was in use. The atmosphere was very relaxed, and I introduced the theme to the students and talked about why I had chosen this theme and then high lighted some of the titles and talked about some of the people who had recommended the books to me and why. The meeting was a HUGE success resulting in a stampede for the book trolley and a huge queue at the issue desk All this activity and excitement had an effect on the library, students looking on immediately wanted to know what was going on? Resulting in an increase in membership – up to the high 30s and an enthusiasm about the whole club. We had a success on our hands.
We were happy with the meeting and the effect it had on the library, however the blog had not taken off to the same extent. We realised we still had some issues with the blog , some of which were the same as we had identified previously. (Trial & error) We had to come up with a way of solving them. We decided to run blogging workshops: these were to take place at lunch time. We asked for help from 1 or 2 of our more frequent bloggers to run these sessions as we felt friends and peers would be better placed to give instructions. To encourage posting and commenting we decided to hold a review competition for the bloggers. The competition criteria was posted on the blog it explained that the competition would run for 3 weeks after which the library staff would pick 4 finalists the students would then vote for their favourite review by posting a comment on the review of their choice. The review with the most comments won the prize. The prize was a $20 book voucher kindly donated by our local Whitcoulls store. The prize was presented at assembly to the lucky winner hopefully creating more interest in the book club and blogging. Another review competition will be run later this year.
We would now like to share some of that success by showing you a short film with comments from members of our Book Club.
In order to keep things interesting and to keep the students motivated you have to think of ways to make things seem fresh and appealing. So to coincide with our theme of NZ authors we arranged for the NZ author Brian Falkner to come and visit us. We wanted this to be an event for the book club , something unique and special just for them. We closed the library at lunchtime and admittance was by invitation only. This again raised the profile of the book club and presented a great opportunity for the students to meet an author. Later in the day Brian also spoke to 3 year 10 English classes and we were delighted when one of our book club members won Brian’s “Real Thing, Taste Competition”
Our final theme for this year is English Authors. This theme is a result of the success of Brian’s visit and was a suggestion from one of the students. So to keep it interesting and recognising that it is the end of the school year we are having an English Afternoon Tea Party. The library will be closed at lunchtime while we host this event for the Book Club students. Tea, cake, sandwiches and scones will be served while we mix, mingle and discuss the English authors we have read.
You have to ask yourself the question “Is it worth it?” and “Can I manage all this?” the answer for us is YES. We have identified the time traps: Google accounts Passwords Computer skills. We have come up with some strategies to make it easier for us to manage in the future: Train 1 or 2 students that can then help others with blogging, account and computer skill issues. Assign passwords to students and keep a record. This eliminates constantly forgotten password issues. With these strategies in place the book club will run a little smoother and we can focus a bit more on the positive outcomes that we are achieving. The Book Club has raised the library’s profile among students by bringing students into the library who would not normally come. This means that our first objective of increased issues and more student participation has been achieved. Our 2 nd objective of getting students reading and excited about books has also been achieved. An added bonus is that English teachers are beginning to use the blog to keep up to date with what students are reading. It is hard work but it’s lots of fun so we will keep doing it.
Contents “ Dedicated to sharing great books, news and reviews with readers everywhere” Getting Started 2 Book Club Take 1 4 Book Club Take 2 6 ‘ A Word From Our Students’ 8 Why a Book Club? 1 Why a Blog? 3 Trials & Errors 5 Blogging Workshop 7 Keeping it Interesting 9
Why a Blog? Reviews Courses Attended Updating Image Use Current Technology Communication & Information
Book Club Take 1 Number of Students 21 students signed up for the Book Club. Review Impact. Genre Genre approach student vote. Blog Invitation Come and join our Blog. Group Dynamics 2 groups, 2 different days, teacher help.
Trials & Errors Blog Access Members Skills Student Directed Loan Periods
Management of direction
Lack of computer skills
No Confidence in writing
Loan periods too short
Borrower limits too low
Restrictions of School Internet
Book Club Take 2 Orientation Week. Longer loans, more books. No Teachers, bigger group. Decided on theme. Relaxed atmosphere. Knock over the book trolley. Success. Marketing . Incentives . 1 Group . Themed . Mood . Stampede . Impact .