Accessing information key

Last updated 11:43 09/07/2012
Librarian Debs Price-Ewan
FAITH SUTHERLAND/Fairfax NZ
1000 ISSUES A MONTH: Freyberg High School librarian Debs Price-Ewan says the digital revolution means libraries are changing all the time, but people will always want to read.

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Freyberg High School runs a wall-less library, the school's newly upgraded fibre intranet making it possible for anyone to access any e-resources in the library from any part of the school.

Librarian Debs Price-Ewan says it wasn't always like that.

She found a very traditional book-stuffed space when she arrived seven years ago, and has just about weeded the stock back to what's wanted. The library has undergone a digital revolution.

School principal Peter Brooks says the decile 6, 1500-student co-ed school bit the IT bullet last year, spending $60,000 on fibre-optic cable to digitally link the campus. It was able to piggyback on Palmerston North Hospital's fibre project, and St Mary's School and Ross Intermediate also upgraded at the same time.

It's caused a profound change in teaching and in methods of gathering information and ways to learn. Linking traditional and digital learning resources gives students best of both worlds.

Price-Ewan estimates the library stock is now half print and DVDs, and half electronic. Each month, about 1000 physical items are issued. The school has just started into e-books and touch kobo readers. What she'd like next is docking ports for tablets and interactive touchscreen computers, and smartphone charge points for students who use their own electronic devices at school.

She sees the library as the school's heart and hub, where people meet, where information should be freely supplied in as many formats as possible.

In schools, students need to feel ownership of their libraries, to feel safe and comfortable using them. Price-Ewan set up a suggestion box at Freyberg very early, and was amazed at the thought students put into their requests.

"Even a request for a library mascot ... I found a toy llama at the Sanson market, it was the days of the Llama llama song. It had a charmed life until one day one of its legs fell off.

"Libraries are now going hybrid. It's not about getting rid of books ... but it's about using digital resources to open up as much access to information as possible."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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