Student Library Review Group — giving students a voice

When the library team at Thorndon School in Wellington conducted a review to examine the library's role and operations, it sought the voice of students.

Thorndon School in Wellington is a medium-sized, inner city school currently being reconfigured to create modern learning environments. To ensure their Library aligns with MLP (Modern Learning Practice) the school’s Library Team decided to conduct a review to critically examine its role and operations.

The library team sought comments and feedback from staff, students and the school community. A National Library Services to Schools Programme Adviser coordinated and facilitated the review process.

What made this review particularly effective and consistent was the Thorndon School Student Library Review Group (TSSLRG). This group of year 7 and 8 students was gathered together to represent the student voice and worked with the librarian, the senior teacher and the adviser during the review process.

So what did the TSSLRG contribute towards the Library Review, how did they go about it and what was the outcome?

Let’s hear from the students themselves:

What the students thought of the review process

Kiri

The Library review group was an amazing group to be part of! It was interesting to be a part of the group because of how it was partly a student lead group with a goal in mind.

All people taking part in our group collected a lot of information and committed a great amount of work, although we really needed to persevere as we were distracted several times!

The goal was to pull together a slideshow and display it to the teachers of our school to hopefully impact the future rebuild of our library. From this experience we took a lot away from just going and observing school libraries (Windley, St Brigids, Amesbury, Tairangi) and pulling together all the information we collected.

Some skills I can apply to situations in the future from this experience are: recording the more important things in conversations, collating information and learning to get along with others. I think they will hopefully impact my college years in a good way next year.

Sarah

A collection of students formed the Student Library Review Group to help input student voice into the project of the new potential library project.

It was interesting to see how we as students took charge of the conversation. It took effort to keep on track as we got sidetracked many times including procrastinating and talking about random things. It was useful to have someone to help keep the conversation moving. Though in the end we managed to get a great presentation because we had a due date and a duty as students to represent the student voice.

From this experience I have gained communication skills, coordinated with peers and learned about effective styles of surveying. All in all it was an amazing experience that will hopefully impact the new library.

Pablo

I feel that the Thorndon School Student Library Review Group, or to use the catchy acronym TSSLRG, has been very informative about the workings of different libraries at schools around the Wellington region.

I feel I know a lot more about what a library needs to have, as well as how to improve the library space and use resources. The group visited several schools, observing how they ran their library and the quality of the library itself. The group then assessed our own library and surveyed the students. Then we suggested our improvements to the teachers and the Board of Trustees.

Mathias

We (the library review team) travelled around the Wellington region in separate groups and investigated different school libraries. After we recorded helpful, constructive and colorful methods they used in their library that we could use to adjust our library. My favourite school library was Tairangi because of its comfortable furniture. Overall I think we gathered enough information to construct an enjoyable, attractive and fun filled library.

The excitement and honour of being part of the Thorndon library review team was unbelievable. To contribute to such an important task brought me joy and happiness. Being in the library review team also required a positive, enthusiastic and social attitude. I enjoyed my time with the fellow members of the review team as they were charismatic, comedic and passionate. Overall I think we accomplished a lot not only as individuals, but also as a unit.

Florence

I enjoyed the library review because we were able to do what we needed to, but we were not rushing. It was challenging to get everyone's ideas and opinions into our presentation but we managed to get them all in and it turned out great in the end. I think it's amazing that the students got to be a part of rebuilding our school library even if we are not going to be there for our new school.

I had a lot of fun working with this group of people. We got to spend a day visiting schools and taking pictures of potential things we can have in our library which was fun. Although we got distracted a lot with joking around and talking about random things, we got the work done to a high standard. This experience has taught me that everyone should have a say - even if it’s a Year One telling us they like pink.

I had a great time and am happy that I was able to be a part of something so big. I hope other school students get a chance to help with rebuilding a part of their school even if they won’t be there to see it.

Arthur

I really enjoyed doing the library review. I went to some of the schools and my favourite school to visit was Amesbury because of the modern approach to the entire school. It was especially noticeable in the library.

To get information about what the students thought about the library, we watched what they did in the library. We also talked to two students (boy and girl) from each year and asked them questions about what they thought about the library. There were some strange answers to some of the questions. One question that got some really weird answers was “If you were designing the library what would you change?” One kid said “I would add truck doors to the library, put in a tree and have slides off the roof.”

It has been a great experience to have been part of this wonderful group.

Fynn

When we were at the library the librarian came in and said you must be in the review group. I have enjoyed being part of this group, it was fun. My favourite part of it was when we went to Amesbury School and St Brigids.

The first thing that happened was when the teacher told us to go to the library. No one knew why we were at the library, then the library worker came in and said you must be the review group. We had a talk to a librarian and then we went to different school libraries. We made a presentation to the teachers. It has been a great experience.

Mia

The Library review group was a good experience. I liked helping the Thorndon school student voice get heard, and letting people know what the students wanted in the new library. Although I will not be here to see the new library, with the work this group has done, I think it will be an awesome library, with lots of cool features.

It was interesting to see other school libraries and what they have. It gave us ideas of what to put in our new library. We asked the kids want they wanted and made up charts of what we wanted and what we need. It was a really good experience and I learnt lots. I really enjoyed it.