School libraries are getting automated

In a move to improve literacy in the Cayman Islands, government schools have been automating their libraries.

An automated library is one in which students are able to browse the library catalogue on a computer, locate the book they want and then give it to the librarian for it to be checked out. When it is checked out automatically, it is logged on the computer system as rented, and the due date will be noted accordingly.

This system will not only make library inventory easier, but encourage students to become more acquainted with both technology and books.

Jose Rodriguez, Regional Vice President of Sales for Latin America and the Caribbean representing Follett Corporation, a company which supplies educational materials to schools, visited the island earlier this month to meet with members of the Education Department and with the local schools to give the latest information and advice on upgrading the automated systems.

‘I was very pleased to visit the schools and to meet with principals and librarians,’ said Mr. Rodriguez. ‘Most of the schools have engaged Follett International in automating their libraries to provide an effective way for the kids to access the book resources available to them.’

Fred Speirs, Education Officer of ICT and Science for the Education Department, who met with Mr. Rodriguez on his latest visit, praised the assistance that Mr. Rodriguez was able to provide. ‘It’s good to have someone on the ground here to explain exactly what upgrading the existing system requires,’ Mr. Speirs said.

The system, named Destiny, will transform the way that school libraries currently operate.

‘This integrated system would make a significant impact in the way school libraries are used to support the literacy and curriculum goals of the Department of Education while realising great efficiencies, cost savings, and strengthening the connection between the classroom and the library by linking learning resources more effectively,’ said Mr. Rodriguez.

Mr. Rodriguez also expressed enthusiasm for this endeavour. ‘I am looking forward to working with the Department of Education to assist them in the implementation of our Destiny Library Manager solution, a centralised library automation system that would enable all the public schools in the Cayman Islands to access each other’s collection through the ITALICS web portal.’

The system will help libraries to run more efficiently. ‘The Department of Education would be able to consolidate all their library automation on a district server with Destiny, dramatically reducing technical support costs, saving staff time and improving ease of use,’ explained Mr. Rodriguez.

‘I first suggested the idea of a union catalogue 10 years ago and it’s great to see that this now might be helping,’ commented Mr. Speirs.

Another significant contribution that the system provides involves the filtering of Internet websites, allowing for some form of control over what students are able to view online.

‘Students, teachers and parents would have access to grade-appropriate, pre-selected websites that are aligned to the subject areas being searched,’ said Mr. Rodriguez.

Currently, approximately 60 per cent of government school libraries have been automated by Follett Corporation.

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