Meet Mrs Merchant, Head of Library and Information Services
With around 20 years experience teaching Drama, English, digital learning and Information Services, Mrs Nadia Merchant shares how libraries are a space for community, inquiry learning and building critical information skills.
How long have you been a teacher?
I started teaching back in 2004 after completing my Bachelor of Arts/Diploma of Education teaching Drama, English and ESL. I worked in creative arts as a senior teacher at places like Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School and Saint Augustine’s College.
Then I took a career change and worked in children’s publishing coordinating children’s pop up books. During that time I really missed being in the classroom so I decided to retrain and gain a Masters of Education Teaching Librarianship and a Graduate Certificate of Education – Information Communication Technology. I went on to work as an Inquiry Learning Leader and Head of Information and Library Services at Pymble Ladies College and, most recently Digital Learning Innovator at Abbotsleigh.
Why did you choose this career pathway?
A lot of people assume you are a teacher librarian because you love books, and that is a big part of it. But I was lucky enough to start my career teaching at a time when there was a dawning of technology in the classroom. Many of my roles, prior to CCGS, looked at how we can integrate technology into the classroom and this is what I really love about the Library.
It’s about teaching information skills so students can find, source and be mindful of what information they are drawing from. It’s about building technical expertise around project management. We help students ask the right questions and what they can do with the answers. We see students find multiple perspectives in what they are studying.
And yes, it is also nurturing that love of reading that turns them into lifelong readers as a recreation but also to grow as a person. This is why I choose to be a teacher librarian.
How have school libraries changed?
Gone are the days when there were rows of desks and 'Quiet please' signs. Libraries are hubs of knowledge and information.
We now see libraries amplifying the work in the classroom as part of inquiry-based learning. They are places that support digital learning. There are digital resources to discover and there’s research to conduct. It is a place that brings together information skills and a love for reading.
Libraries are also a place of community. A place for students to feel safe and nurtured, to feel seen and heard. It is not a place attached to a year group or a House colour. You can come here and be yourself. You can choose how you want to enjoy the space.
What do you love about teaching?
I love to work with lots of personalities. It’s wonderful watching students grow with confidence as they unpack who they are and what they want to be in the world. These are the conversations I love having with kids.
Every day our Library team is asked “Can you help me?”. This is a beautiful question. It can mean anything! You might help a student find the next adventure to read or how to navigate around resources for an upcoming assignment. Perhaps a student needs help with a friend who is having a tough time.
I love the diversity and the broadness that being part of the Library and Information Services team brings.
The Library is the hub of our School. What plans do you have for the future?
I want to discover and really understand what matters to our students. I’d like to amplify our use of technology and the resources we have to support the work in the classroom across all year groups and subjects. I’d like to dive deep into our information services and make sure we have the resources for students at the right time and help them make the most of it. I’d also like to encourage our senior students to use our space and extend our reach to that group with suitable literature.
I have worked as Head of eLearning and as a Digital Learning Innovator as well as Head of Library. I think my diverse career history allows for a dynamic library strategy. I’m currently a MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator) and would like to contribute to both the Library and eLearning professional communities. As a result, I can see that innovation in the Library space is on the horizon and something that our team will be working towards.
When you are not at the Library, where can we find you?
I love the beach, so you’ll find me enjoying the ocean or walking my two dogs across the sand. I also love to travel. I travelled a lot when I was younger. That’s probably where I get my wanderlust from. As soon as we are able, I’ll be heading off on an overseas adventure (in school holidays only of course!)