By Terri McCargar, Librarian

Latymer Upper is an independent and co-educational day school in West London, and I arrived six years ago, just as a new library building was opening.

The availability of ever more online resources has had a profound effect on the development of the new library, especially since the School began issuing iPads to students in Year 10 four years ago. What began as a trial has now been extended: every student in Years 10-13 has a school-issued iPad.

In the Library, while we have invested heavily in building up a somewhat tired print collection, it was clear that we would also need to provide students with high quality, authoritative, online resources that they could access remotely and on a range of devices.

In 2010, the Library maintained just four online subscriptions: this year, we have around 27, about one-third of which come from JCS Online Resources.

Some of the resources in the JCS stable we had subscribed to directly in the past, such as the Philip Allan Magazines Online Archives and JSTOR.

But it’s fantastic when resources become available through a consortium: not only can it mean a significant saving to subscription fees, but it makes administration of the products much more manageable.

Promoting awareness and usage of e-resources

Of course, we promote the resources to the students directly as much as we can. For example, every year I offer a series of brief, timetabled demo sessions with all Year 12 students, giving an overview of what we have and where to find it (on the Library’s intranet pages and in most cases, also on relevant departmental pages).

The best promotion, though, comes at the point of need, when a teacher or librarian demonstrates a resource in the context of their next project. This means making the teaching staff aware of the value of such resources. I don’t claim to have cracked this! For me, it involves fairly frequent email reminders to staff focused on one or two resources at a time and being alert in conversations with teachers to opportunities to suggest how a subscription resource might help fulfil their students’ needs.

Usage by teachers and students

Here’s how some of the online resources available through JCS have been used by different departments at Latymer Upper:

JSTOR Secondary Schools Collection

JSTOR is probably our most used and valued resource, especially for A-level essays and coursework and independent research for the EPQ.

One history teacher uses JSTOR extensively with his senior classes, for both EPQ and History: “It provides invaluable information which I get the students to synthesise into a bite-size chunk and present to the rest of the group.”

Keith Noakes, Head of RS and Philosophy, who also teaches EPQ, says, JSTOR is a MUST for EPQ. The students are introduced to articles of an academic nature that helps to bridge the leap between A-Levels and university work. The language and level of academic debate help to improve students’ writing and ability to discuss. Access to the range and quality of journals via JSTOR is vital for EPQ; almost impossible without it.”

Philip Allan Magazines Online Archives

Our Head of Physics sets homework articles from Physics Review as homework for his A-Level students, to widen and deepen their understanding of the topics covered in class and to develop an appreciation of how different areas of physics contribute to understanding a particular phenomenon.

A history teacher uses the Archive for homework with his GCSE classes; he finds the articles offer a critical historical perspective of the debates surrounding topics covered in the curriculum.

The Head of Geography uses Geography Review to research recent topics to inform his own teaching of the subject.

Drama Online

The school has a thriving drama department, with ties to LAMDA and frequent trips to the West End. We were the first school to sign up for a trial through JCS and the Drama department love it. We now subscribe to the Core Collection and the Nick Hern Collection of plays.

Vickie Bedford, Assistant Director of Drama, says: “We used Drama Online to access plays when our Year 12s were choosing a monologue or duologue for their unit 2 exam. They all have iPads so it was really easy to use in lessons. It’s also a good resource for choosing plays for extra-curricular drama, such as the Year 9-10 play.”

MASSOLIT

The Classics and English department were interested in MASSOLIT as a means of providing extension to A-Level students.

One English teacher explains that they use MASSOLIT lectures for a 10-minute extension session at the end of double lesson for Year 13, or to support the revision process (particularly the videos on Chaucer and Dickens).

Gale Historical Newspapers for Secondary Schools (formerly Gale NewsVault)

This is a new subscription for us and I recently demonstrated it to Year 12 History of Art students who are about to embark on their Personal Investigations. They were impressed by how many historic newspaper articles they could search at one time.

The Head of Department, who arranged the session with me, pointed out how valuable it might be to anyone interested in satirical cartoons to access the digitized archive of Punch or The Illustrated London News; or how one might research historical newspapers to find contemporary criticism or reaction to a particular artist or exhibition.

In a similar way, I directed a student researching Thomas Hardy for her EPQ to Gale Historical Newspapers, as a source of critical commentary.