Professional Placement


Professional Placement

INF 408 – Professional Placement

“I hereby confirm that this is an original essay and my own work and that all ethical standards have been addressed and adhered to”

Nadine Bailey

Student ID: 11510358

Word Count:2673

1. The role of the library  

United World College South East Asia East (UWCSEA East) is one of the two campuses of an International school located in Singapore.  This campus commenced operations in 2008 and moved to a purpose built campus in August 2011.  It offers a kindergarten (K) to International Baccalaureate (IB) programme – K1 to Grade 12.  Each campus has two libraries, Primary and Secondary. 

The goals of the library are closely aligned to those of the school and include amongst other things, continue to develop the library collections, assessing them against the curriculum and identifying gaps and areas for improvement, continue to develop the libraries’ homepage and online presence and develop online research tools.  These goals are cascaded down to individual staff member’s goal setting and development and training guidelines.

The library is an integral part of the school and as such is involved with the service opportunities created there, such as assisting schools in Cambodia to set up libraries, and the literacy projects of related charities.  The library also runs a “read and recycle” program whereby book donations from the school community are sorted and re-resourced either in the library, given to school-linked charities or put on shelves outside the library for users to take.  The library space and equipment has been designed for flexibility.  Exhibitions, talks and seminars are often held there. The library also hosts a parent’s association book club.

The Library is a founding member of ISLN (International schools Library Network) a Singaporean non-profit organisation linking the International schools and the librarians are active in organising the annual Red Dot book awards and reader’s cup (

Read and recycle shelves outside the library, books can be borrowed or taken. Books are not catalogued Steampunk sculpture exhibited in the library by the school artist in residence.

2. User needs and services

The library works closely with the school and the heads of curriculum of the Infant, Primary, Middle, High school and IB program to ensure that the needs of students are met. Further, the needs of teachers and other support staff (such as learning support, literacy coaches and digital literacy coaches) are also considered and catered for with special collections of books as well as digital materials and other resources.  For example, the drama department request films, which are downloaded onto iPads that can be borrowed during a class depending on the play, script being studied.

The librarians are in constant contact with students, teachers and curriculum staff, heads of staff, the head of conferences and they work closely with literacy and digital literacy coaches.

3. Collections and information resources

Since the school is relatively new, having only moved to the current campus in the last two years, the collection is currently being developed.   Because the school started with a primary section and added a year each year, the primary school collection is more developed than the secondary school collection.  The school had a Grade 12 class for the first time this year.  The policy of the library is to ensure that the collection reflects both the philosophy of the school, and the pedagogy outlined in the curriculum articulation.  The physical collection is constantly assessed as the school grows.  A recent focus has been on the LOTE (Languages other than English) collection where the libraries have consulted with the heads of language to acquire materials to assist in classroom learning and pleasure reading.

In July 2013, the National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore stopped students in  international schools from accessing their online databases without a paid library card. The library has therefore had to invest in online databases that had previously been free.  The librarian selects material with recommendations by heads of departments, literacy coaches, parents and students. Everyone has input in the selection process subject to the approval of the librarian and the material compiling with the values and ethos of the school.

4. Cataloguing, classification and indexing

The library uses a combination of inhouse and outsourced cataloguing.  Follett Titlewave purchases come with downloaded and labelled MARC records, and books are stickered for the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system.  Internally books are stamped and a school barcode is added.  For other purchases, including from Follett UK, all processing is done internally following bad experiences with trying to outsource the cataloguing and processing. Use is made of Z39.50 files in reading in information in the case of incomplete data.  Particular issues arise in the cataloguing of material for the LOTE collection, where teachers or parents need to be called on in order to help cataloguing material, particularly in non-Roman scripts.  A recent exercise during my study placement was to consider the current LOTE cataloguing, and compare it to the needs of the users and other LOTE catalogues in operation in other schools.   There is a movement towards more descriptive tagging as well as the use of subject specific site cataloguing in order to assist users to find materials (for example the guided readers for a specific level and/or grade.  The DDC system is used with exceptions for Fiction, Biography, Graphic Materials, Poetry and Playscripts, which use the “pull-out” method of separate shelving following a more “bookstore” type of concept. Most materials, including textbooks and guided readers or teaching aids and classroom books, are catalogued.  Access to databases such as subscription journal databases is provided through the library webpage, the LibGuides and the subject curriculum guides. The library also makes extensive use of QR codes leading back to the catalogue, webpages or LibGuides.


QR Codes on shelf leading back to LibGuide QR code on display leading back to library catalogue to see when books will be returned

5. System managment

Follett Destiny is the library management system in use.  It is one of the two systems widely used by schools, the other being Softlink’s Oliver.  Each has their advantages and disadvantages.  The primary disadvantage appears to be that Destiny is a system designed for a Web 1.0 environment with bits of Web 2.0 tacked on.  The interface is not as user friendly as the “Google generation” is used to, and many search and reporting tasks that the librarian would like patrons to have access to, are not easily accomplished without running asynchronous reports using batch processing.  The report output is in PDF and XML, the latter which cannot be opened on a Mac system, and the school uses MacBooks in its “one laptop per student / teacher” philosophy.  So, a separate computer has to be maintained just for reporting purposes and to customise and change MARC records.  Sometimes the library has to resort to the vendor in order to accomplish tasks that should theoretically be achievable inhouse, particularly with a librarian who is so adept technically. 

However, Follett is trying to keep up and new developments include allowing circulation by handheld devices such as the iPad or iPhone and catalogue searching by mobile devices.  All teachers have been given authorisation to checkout and check-in books of themselves or their students.

During my student placement I was fortunate to be able to attend a two-day workshop on Follett Destiny held by Follett covering their cataloguing, eBook system, collection analysis and reporting systems.


The school does not have many physical serials, as discussed earlier; they recently needed to subscribe to databases following the change in the NLB policy.

6. Reference and information services

Reference services are provided via desk enquiries, reference appointments, teacher queries, LibGuides and presentations on video.  Reference questions are not tracked by electronic means, however when questions in an area reach a critical mass, a guide or video will be created in order to help students in self-education.  An attempt was made to use Google Moderator for questions, however this has not been fully implemented, as it is not considered the best tool, given that many of the questions are too specialised for students to answer for their peers using the crowd-sourcing approach, and maintenance of the forum takes up a lot of time. As the college has two campuses and four libraries there is a possibility to borrow books from the other campus and delivery takes place through the inter-campus courier service.  The library also has an account with the NLB, where up to 2500 books can be borrowed for 12 weeks at a time in order to fulfil specific needs, for example a unit of enquiry where demand exceeds the school’s collection.  I had the opportunity both of observing and conducting reference interviews during my placement.   The school complies with all copyright and access agreements for accessing and using information even at the youngest level.


Screenshot of classroom update for Grade 5 outlining current research and warning against plagiarism

7. Network infrastructure

The library operates on an Internet based system.  All activities depend on network access and availability.  The catalogue system is open to all. Users can log onto the system to access databases that the library subscribes to.  Some are access through a proxy server and others require a separate login and password in order to comply with licensing and copyright rules of the various databases.   Since the school is a “one laptop per child” campus, there are a limited number of computer terminals mainly used for OPAC searching.  As the library is an open space without a “shushing policy” there are quiet rooms with power points and desks for quiet study.

8. Staffing

Both the Primary and Secondary libraries have one teacher librarian, two assistant librarians and one library clerk.  The teacher librarians have a Masters degree and the assistant librarians a diploma in library technology.   Professional development is partly based on library specific development needs and partly on individual management needs as assessed by the yearly goal setting and assessment by the school hierarchy.  Communication between staff in the four libraries over the two campuses is collegial and I was offered the opportunity of spending one of my placement days in the Dover campus libraries.  Decisions that affect both campuses are discussed between the head librarians and knowledge exchange occurs on matters such as cataloguing and most recently, online journal acquisition and access. The major issue I encountered during my placement is that the secondary library in particular is very short-staffed on the reference librarian side. 

9. User education

Both information literacy and digital literacy is integrated in the school’s curriculum. There are only two teacher librarians (see staffing), for over 2500 pupils, so the librarians do not conduct information literacy classes.

Data on information use is gathered through library reports that have been set up in Follett Destiny.  For all students, a wide range of “how to” videos and guides have been set up online and can be accessed through the appropriate level online “research hub”. For the Infant and Junior school, each class has one library period a week during which the teacher and library staff will assist with teaching children how to access the catalogue and find resources using the DDC.


10. Promotion and marketing

A number of initiatives have been undertaken to ensure the library is well utilized.  The library has a website ( and maintains an open catalogue. Events and exhibitions are regularly held in the library where all the furniture is on wheels for easy moving.  In conjunction with the teachers, the library has created large A0 printouts of various teachers’ “favourite reads” and “recommended reads” for different age groups which are displayed in the classrooms and corridors with QR codes linking back to the book in the catalogue in the library.  Within the library, QR codes on the shelves link back to virtual resources such as LibGuides. Parents are welcome to volunteer in the library and to borrow library materials and join the parents’ book club.


Large A0 posters all over campus

Parents book club hosted by library


The giving tree for Christmas donations

11. Evaluation of library services

The evaluation of the services is done annually in conjunction with the annual goal setting outlined in point 1 above.  Goals such as number of books per user, age of the collection, quantity and quality of online guides, and professional development are included.  At the end of all research seminars or other library sessions that have been requested by teachers and set up by the librarian, students are required to fill in an online “exit” ticket in which they evaluate the class they’ve just received with opportunities to comment on potential improvements.

12. Reflecting on an activity

During my placement I was involved with evaluating the cataloguing for the LOTE collections, circulation, creation of guides using LibGuides and attending classes preparing the Grade 11 students for the IB Extended Essay. 

The most significant of these activities was creating LibGuides.  The objective was to create a template for online guides, and then create an online guide for subjects within each of the 6 major IB subject areas and populate these with appropriate physical and online resources. This involved coordinating with the IB coordinator, the secondary librarian and undertaking a reference interview with the subject head.  I prepared guides for psychology, economics, mathematics, science and music, (see for example:

The activity was valuable both to the school and myself. I learned to apply research across a variety of media and the incorporation of tools and widgets to make the content engaging.  It also gave me exposure to teachers and heads of department.  The school appreciated having someone concentrate on getting the guides up online to assist the launce of the research process of the Grade 11s.

In retrospect I could have used more of the teacher resources earlier in the process, as well as information available on other library guides.  In reality, given the time constraints a guide was often almost completed by the time the teachers were involved.  However, the teachers were very pleased with the process given that there had been nothing available in the previous year.

13. Evaluate the placement

The placement was extremely useful to combine my theoretical knowledge with real life practice.  In particular the balancing act of trying to achieve goals and complete tasks while still remaining available and approachable to users was a useful insight.   I have become more skilled in conducting the research interview, as well as understanding taxonomy and cataloguing principles and practise.  I also have a renewed respect for the role of a librarian in a school.  I wrote a blog during my placement, which can be accessed at:   A concrete benefit of the placement was that I’ve been offered a part-time job helping out on the reference side to make up for the lack of staffing in this area and the need to provide students with more access to reference staff.

I very much appreciate being able to have worked with such an experienced librarian, and particularly one who has embraced Library 2.0 in all its facets and is very progressive in the use of technology in the library.


East 5LWh 2013-2014. (2013). Retrieved November 23, 2013, from

High School Research Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

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Intro – Home – Research at United World College of Southeast Asia. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

Introduction – Psychology: Introduction – Research at United World College of Southeast Asia. (2013). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

ISLN – Singapore. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2013, from (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

Oliver library management system from Softlink. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

Research Skills Professional Development. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

Software for Library Automation | Follett Software. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2013, from

UWCSEA Infant Research Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

UWCSEA Junior Research Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

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