New book cataloguing system launched in schools
by Elaine Attard

A new book cataloguing system, which will be used by all school libraries in Malta, was launched at the Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School in Naxxar, yesterday.

The library management system called OLIVER, allows users, staff and students alike, to browse through lists of books, reserve books, find out whether the books needed are on loan or available and informs the users whether any new books were added to the database.

The dream to have a central unified catalogue of all the school libraries started to materialise five years ago, explained veteran library teacher Joseph Boffa who, although has retired from teaching, has gone on giving a voluntary service in school libraries.

So far, 17 schools form part of the expanding project. More schools will have the opportunity to catalogue their books.

The system is open to all schools and educational establishments in Malta and Gozo. Currently the database contains more than 108,000 books and over 58,000 titles. New ones are inputted on a daily basis. A number of CDs and DVDs are also included. Everyone can access the database using the address

The system is user friendly and has a special catalogue interface for primary school children called OLLY. It uses colours and pictures to encourage younger readers to explore it.

Education Minister Dolores Cristina had words of praise for Mr Boffa who dedicates his time to improve school libraries. She said that the new cataloguing system is the perfect example of how technological and traditional methods of learning can be combined towards a way forward. Around €100,000 was budgeted to buy new library books this year, she said, and around €9,000 will be used to buy reading material for people with special needs. After appealing to publishers and other individuals to donate books, she pointed out that the ministry donated two books to each school on the history of education in Malta. One book was about the history of the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) and the other one on key Maltese educators.

Like Oliver Twist who wanted more and more food, children should develop a love towards reading to read and read more, concluded the minister.

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