How A Library School Holiday Programme Created Movie-Style Soundtrack Of Local History Story


I asked Harley Couper, Learning Centre Tutor and Reference Librarian, from Tauranga City Libraries how they used their school holiday programme to create a movie-style soundtrack of a local history story.

In the April school holidays one of the ways Tauranga City Libraries commemorated the Battle of Gate Pa by creating a Booktrack ebook. Can you tell me more?
I was excited about finding new ways to present Primary Sources around Gate Pa, so I created a Booktrack using Chief Hori Ngatai’s translated account of the attack. You can experience it here.

With the help of our Children and Teen Librarians we made a simplified version of this text appropriate to a 10 or 11 year old reading level. We used this ready-made text in a holiday programme that coincided with Tauranga’s 150 year commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pa and Te Ranga.

How was the holiday programme structured?
The class began with each child choosing a book from Booktrack to listen to. We then talked about what we had heard and broke these down into three audio components:

  1. Soundtracks (how did that make you feel?)
  2. Ambience (what’s the ambience of a café, forest, this room?)
  3. Effects (did anyone hear gasps, gunshots, burps, footsteps?)

We then guided the class through how to log in and create a new Booktrack with each child using a Word document to cut and paste the Hori Ngatai account into their new Booktrack. Finally, in stages, we added sound layers and learned how to overlap and layer them for a full effect. We had a couple of sound effects that could be added (a haka and a bugle call) but the site itself has a massive collection of sounds that you can browse and search through.

Who attended and what was the response like?
We aimed it at 10-11 year olds kids. We advertised  it as Audio Engineering, a mistake really, but at the time we had two ideas on the boil and were uncertain whether our IT guys could have Chrome installed in our Learning Centre in time. (There are Booktrack Apps for consuming commercial and locally produced Booktracks but you need a PC running Chrome or Opera to create content.)

Bookings were slower than other programmes I think in part because it’s so new. Everyone knows what Lego or Comic Design is but what’s Booktrack or Audio Engineering? We still managed to get  a full class though and the response was delightful. In libraries we are used to engagement sounding like a loud buzz, but with the Booktrack programme the kids were silent and totally transfixed as they chose and mixed their sound tracks. 

We had 100% positive feedback and comments like “this was a hundred thousand billion excellent!” and “This was a great idea…you should run it again next holidays”. So this July 10 and 17 over Matariki we’ll run two programmes, each an hour and a half.

What advice would you give to other libraries considering creating their own Booktrack ebooks?

  • Have fun at the start describing soundtracks, ambience and sound effects (the three audio components).
  • Providing the text allows the kids to focus on one creative process (the sound engineering).
  • Use Booktrack Classroom the education version of it as otherwise kids need to have their own emails etc to log in.
  • In hindsight out text was a bit too long, we could have made it shorter. Using a brief text will allow the kids to complete their story, much more satisfying.


  1. Sally says:

    Hi Tim, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of Booktrack being used in libraries and schools. 🙂

  2. mrtimwarren says:

    Tim from Booktrack here. Thanks for writing a great article. It’s really valuable hearing how people use Classroom in these settings. I really loved the kids comments.
    Keep up those awesome programs!


Comments are closed.