Inquiry in the library…

Guest post by Fiona Birkin, Head of Learning Resources and member of my in-school PLN. 

Can learning to use an OPAC be fun?

Several weeks ago the Yr4s got to explore the Learning Resource Centre and hone their skills in using the OPAC to locate books. In the past, this type of lesson has teetered on the brink of becoming boring; in fact some student’s behaviour told me it was a big YAWN! This time I had the iPads to ’pull in’ those students that tend to hover on the fringe of lessons and zone-out land.

First, as part of my lesson preparation,  I created QR codes

The students worked in pairs and with them they had two main tools to help, a laptop for access to the OPAC and an iPad with a QR code reader app on it to help them decipher the QR codes scattered around the Learning Resource Centre. The LRC was filled with busy, engaged and excited children trying to locate books and information.

Throughout the lesson I was able to wander around and simply interact with the students; supporting their journey in locating.

The students who were confident and successful users of the OPAC stayed engaged because the element of using the QR code reader was fun. The students who found searching a catalogue a challenge, got my assistance. They also had the motivation of wanting to use the iPad for the next clue once they had solved the first one; to do that they needed to master the skill of searching on the OPAC.

Cross posted at fiLearning.

About whatedsaid

Teaching and Learning Coordinator at an IB PYP school in Melbourne, Australia. I'm a teacher, a learner, an inquirer...
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3 Responses to Inquiry in the library…

  1. tgaletti says:

    Great idea, Fiona. I love the combination of OPAC and QR codes involving the use of iPads. That’s like a treasure hunt and kids like nothing better than that. What library automation do you use in your library? Thanks, Tanja


    • Fiona says:

      Hi Tanja,
      We use a system called Amlib. It is not a very user-friendly program. My library technicians and I are often having difficulties with it. What do you use?
      On a more positive note, the iPads have certainly added a new dimension to the lessons I give. I’m also adding eBooks onto them. Do you use an eBook provider? I’m currently looking for one.


  2. tgaletti says:

    Thanks for your reply, Fiona. We are using Follett’s Destiny and I find it very user-friendly from the point of view of the patrons and librarian (but then I am not dealing with technical difficulties when they arise). The catalog is super, especially with such features as WebPath Express which allows students to search among websites already evaluated and found appropriate for a particular grade-level range (i.e. K-5, 6-8, 9-12). It also has a feature to make visual searches which allows me to introduce the catalog already to KG students (and they are loving it!). However, on the technical side there can be some issues but I guess that has more to do with our technical situation here than with the software.
    I don’t have any eBooks in my collection yet but our senior school library uses the eBook shelf from Follett as well as eBooks on Kindles.


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