Huey Q&A: Bringing innovative technology to the school library with Rhonda Creasey 

Cathy Drury is a Teacher Librarian at McCallum's Hill Public School. She’s been using Huey the bookbot since March 2020 and has noticed a dramatic shift in the way her students are reading – including a boy who’s discovered a new kind of dinosaur book. We spoke to Cathy about her experiences with Huey the bookbot.
Rhonda Creasy, Teacher Librarian
You have been using Huey since 2020 – how do the students interact with it in the school library? 

The Year Three to Six students use Huey during library borrowing time. We have the Huey kiosk (pictured) and printer set up on the library desk, so I give a few students access to the kiosk and printer each lesson. The rest of my Stage Two students access Huey via the QR code on their iPads, and Stage Three uses the website on their Chromebooks. I usually ask some of the students to share their Huey book recommendations before they go to the shelves to find the books.

Have you noticed any change in the way students borrow books when they use Huey? 

I think Huey brings the students to a deeper engagement level in selecting books. They’re more likely to read the books chosen by Huey because they match their interests and reading level, rather than a random selection where children might borrow a book because they like the cover but never read it. 
Another thing I’ve noticed is that often the students will ask for assistance in finding their books, which is lovely because it provides me with a teaching moment to direct students to the correct area in the library and that’s how I know they’re interacting with Huey.

A big part of being a Teacher Librarian is helping children find the right book to match their reading level. How has Huey helped you personally in your day-to-day work in the library?

As a Teacher Librarian, I often feel like I need eight arms to make all the students happy! Huey provides valuable help because it enables students to connect to a good book without me having to individually deal with each student, which isn’t always practical in the time we have. 

I also love that the app enables all students to engage at the same time on a journey to find quality literature at their reading level. That’s where I feel it’s a wonderful support. I can always pick up where children need help along that journey to get that book in their hands, but I feel like it’s enabling me to be better at my job. 

Why do you think it's important for Teacher Librarians to explore new ways for connecting children with books?

I was involved with computers way back in the beginning of my career in the 1980s. Back then, it started off with the MicroBee, and then the Apple IIc came out. So my mindset from the beginning has been to embrace technology and get involved. 

This generation of kids wants immediate feedback to requests, and Huey is an efficient way to do this. I believe it’s especially important in our profession as Teacher Librarians to stay updated with new ways for connecting children with books. I do, however, draw a line: children need to hold a book in their hands. Technology stops at that point for me. You still need to go back to the written word, where you’re holding it, smelling it, feeling it and putting that bookmark in!

What do the students think of Huey the Bookbot?

It was engaging right from the start, and set up in a such a way that the students could follow the prompts very easily. 

Personally, I think Huey is most useful for the student who is lost or needs some direction. Huey provides that extra support to the child who doesn’t know what to choose and is a bit lost or overwhelmed when they come into the library. Huey can be like a friend to walk alongside them. 
In that respect, Huey’s doing what I would do as Teacher Librarian: asking what children are interested in and assessing their reading level. Then the algorythm is able to magically work in the background to give students a book that’s a good fit.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Only one?! It would have to be a toss-up between The Tale ofPeter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs.

🤩 Huey is a free customised bookbot that gets children reading the books they love. It’s fun and easy to use, and helps students find the books that match their interests and reading level.  

Start using Huey in your school library. 🎒