The Melbourne Centre for Japanese Language Education (MCJLE) was established in 1996 with a grant to Monash University from the Nippon Foundation in Japan. The MCJLE provides a variety of activities and programs to primary and secondary school teachers of Japanese in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, encouraging professional support and teaching skills so that teachers can work effectively in Japanese language education. Its activities include the organisation of in-service training programs, lectures and workshops, study scholarships for teachers of Japanese, the development of teaching materials, research, the publication of a newsletter , and the MCJLE Collection .
The MCJLE Collection was established in July 1997 as one of the major projects of the MCJLE, in collaboration with the Monash University Library. Annual funding from the MCJLE to the Library supports employment of an MCJLE Collection assistant and development and management of the Collection. Teachers can apply for a special borrowers’ card in order to borrow materials. An annual meeting is held for the MCJLE office, Library stakeholders, and academics from the Japanese and Education departments to discuss current problems and future plans and improvements.
Melbourne Centre for Japanese Language Education Collection, plate 1. (Photo: Ayako Hatta)
The Collection has now grown to almost 3,000 items for books, kits, flash cards, maps and charts either in Japanese or English. Textbooks and workbooks with accompanying audio materials are always popular with both Japanese teachers and Monash students who study Japanese language and education. The Collection also includes textbooks used at primary and secondary schools in Japan. Picture books and old Japanese folk tales are collected in a variety of shapes from little books to big books, various objects (eg. an apron with pockets and puppets for story-telling) and with some accompanying audio-visual materials. Audio visual materials, especially videos and DVDs, are a growing section that now comprises 160 items, located in the Music and Multimedia Collection. They include a variety of documentaries on culture, lifestyle and customs, history, language learning, and popular films.
Melbourne Centre for Japanese Language Education Collection, plate 2. (Photo: Ayako Hatta)
In my job as Japanese Studies Librarian, I am also responsible for looking after this MCJLE Collection. I do materials selection, ordering, cataloguing and maintenance, as well as introducing the Collection to the teachers. I also attend the annual Japanese Language Teachers' Association of Victoria (JLTAV) state-wide Conference as an exhibitor, bringing some of our Collection’s materials to show the teachers and introducing our MCJLE Collection from Monash University. I always find this a great opportunity to know and hear the real voices of the teachers and what materials they want for their classroom teaching activities. Every time I talk with them, I feel they are very enthusiastic, active and willing to take any challenges for teaching Japanese. It also makes me aware of the importance of the Collection to the teachers and makes me enthusiastic about my work with the MCJLE Collection.
When I first attended this Conference, I ran a questionnaire for the teachers. I mainly wanted to know whether they knew about our MCJLE Collection or not, and whether they were satisfied with our service. One result of this was to start a new service, the postal service. We think it is best if the teachers can come to the shelves and browse, because they find lots of interesting materials that they can use for their classroom activities. However, we found that there are many Japanese teachers, especially outside Melbourne, who find it hard to come to the Library and borrow items.
We started the trial postal service early this year in 2009. We limited it to 8 items of books and audio-visual materials at a time and excluded the big books, charts and maps which are physically difficult to post. The MCJLE office staff accepts requests from teachers by fax, and then package and send the items off to the teacher’s school. The items are for 4 weeks loan including the delivery period, and have to be returned by the due date. The MCJLE office has promoted our new service through its newsletter to the teachers and news has also spread gradually by word-of-mouth, so our first year has been quite successful. We hope the teachers can search and find materials from our Monash University Catalogue and find our new postal service useful, especially the teachers from South Australia, Tasmania and Victorian country schools. I believe this postal service would not have been successful without the enormous help of the MCJLE office, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their cooperation and continuing support.