Librarian in an SLT world

This isn’t a case of being in the right place at the right time, but by creating the opportunity myself I was able to play a vital role in this extremely important whole school movement. Not only does this put info lit skills at the forefront of classroom teaching but it also does what we all aim for info lit in schools. The ability for me to teach the teachers and the teachers to teach it to the students. Being whole school gives it gravitas, gives it importance, gives it that consistency that it is being taught across the whole school in every lesson.

So being involved in school life in this way has this snowball effect. Not only have I been involved in these whole school movements but I have been able to make sure that the work the library is doing is measured in the same way that all the other departments are. We track students, like every other department. We use data nationally, locally and through our work to have an understanding of all our students. We specifically run intervention for students that need it. We look at impact on attainment and achievement. We aren’t just a department by name but by expectations too.

That’s why I am looking forward to being part of SLT, not only to help better myself but to make the library an even more effective place within the school. To keep us at the forefront of development and to make sure we are playing a role in impacting on students attainment and achievement across the whole of the school.

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SLA School Librarian of the Year Award

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It’s been absolutely fantastic all the emails and messages I have been getting today from fellow librarians and other friends in the book world. I’ve known for a while about being on the School Library Associations Honour List for School Librarian of the Year but it’s been really difficult not to say anything!

It is a fantastic organisation whom I have had the pleasure of working with in the past, talking at conferences and writing things for and their award is such an important one to us as librarians. It puts us in the spot light and shows that the work we do has an impact in schools. It shows that we are not just there as a title, a box ticked, but that we are a fundamental part of the school community.

It’s even more fantastic then to be nominated for and to make it to the Honours list itself. Something that I am very proud of!

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New year, same beginning

One of the things that I’m always really keen to do in the summer holidays (the benefit of being full time) is refresh all the displays that we have in the library. To save time a lot of the displays are ones we will try and keep up for a whole year. For instance we have a large photo wall, which chronicles all the things that we have done with students over the previous year. This involves trips, author visits, competitions, clubs etc. It’s a great talking point for the students and we always to get as many embarrassing photos up as possible too (we sometimes call it the wall of shame for this reason). It’s also really a really good starting point when we are introducing someone to the library -(either a parent, a librarian from another school or anyone else coming to look around) because not only does it help me to remember all the things we do but it gives a great picture of the fun that our students have in our library.

One display we are very happy about is our Harry Potter competition display. Living in Herts we are very lucky that the studios are just down the road to us. Last year we ran a whole 2 terms worth of competitions for students to win the chance to go on the tour and because of the success we’re doing it again this year.

It will be our very own Triwizard Tournament with students having to compete in 3 tasks to be in with the chance of winning their place. Being an HP fan myself (cough, cough) it really is great fun to run but even if I wasn’t just seeing how hard the students work and how enthusiastic they are makes it all worthwhile!

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Student librarians

We’ve always had a large number of student librarians be involved in the library but this year we have our biggest cohort ever.

In a year group of 220 students we have well over 150 applicants at the end of yr7 apply to become a librarian which makes the job of whittling them down an extremely difficult one. We spend the first year of their school live getting to know them (ever single student in the school has a regular library lesson with yr7′s coming in for the first term 1hr per week for Reading for Enjoyment lessons – run by myself). This helps us, when we go through the application forms, to work out which students will be the right ones to be chosen.

It’s always a hard decision and we know that as the year goes on there will be students that hadn’t first come to our attention that suddenly get involved with their friends, who are librarians, and then become a librarian themselves. We nearly always find that these students end up being some of the best we’ve had!

Anyway this year we picked a total 65 students, a massive number itself but still less than half of those that applied! Over the holidays I work out all their shelving and desk duties. We work the librarians hard through the year with them helping out at break and lunchtimes as well reshelving books and helping to run a number of events throughout the year, but they do get rewarded well too with trips, author visits and lots of other priveledges.

Each librarian has their own shelf to look after and we close the library on a Friday breaktime specifically for students to do their shelving duties. This is always a really fun time in the library with lots of activity, chatter and hard work. Instead of feeling like they are being made to do something hard the students love it, taking ownership of their area and taking pride in making it look the best it can. What’s also really fab for us is the fact that the students are picking up so many skills that will help them not only in school but in later life.

Our librarians are part of the strength of our library , even if sorting out their rota can be a nightmare!

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Sharing books

This weeks’ fedbkgrp is based all around sharing books and stories. So whether this is books we like to share with familes, collegues, friends, book groups or children we’re discussing what our favourite ones are.

Sharing books and stories is an integral part of our culture and our history. Oral tradition dictates that stories are enjoyed and best enjoyed when we share them together. In fact we carry on this tradition every day. Maybe its recounting your journey in from work, or explaining why your homework wasn’t done, its telling stories (granted some may be more entertaining than others, I used to love coming up with interesting reasons why my homework hadn’t been done!) but the common theme is the act of sharing.

The multifaceted nature of books means that there is so many good things about them. For me one of the most important is the ability to bring people together. Whether this is talking to your neighbour about your latest read or discussing on the train what the person next to you is reading reading is one those things like the weather that we British can easily talk about. But beyond that it brings us together in different ways. As families we can enjoy reading together, bringing us closer. It can be the special time we spend with our children, a time in the day where nothing else matters but being together. The bigger picture in sharing stories is as a vehicle to communicate, to talk, to enjoy, to be together. Forget all the amazing things reading can do (these are so many it would be hard to name them all, again the power of reading) there is also so much more of that ‘bigger picture’ that gets missed out and not spoken about. It is part of our cultural history, part of our tradition and one that we continue to do everyday even if we don’t realise it but one that we should also treasure a lot more!

Sharing books is vital and something we should never stop doing, especially to our children. It’s how we grow, how we understand more about ourselves and our place in the world. It is part of what makes us and is certainly part of what made me!

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A post for a Princess

A long long time ago (it most certainly seems) when I was writing lots for magazine and journals I wrote a story that I never put forward for publication about a princess, so to celebrate the wedding of Wills and Kate I thought I would post this story for all to enjoy. It is entitled ‘Princess Pinkalot and the Princes Trial’.

Just click on the words below and enjoy!

Princess Pinkalot and the Prince’s trial

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#fedbkgrp

Have just been looking over the chat from our last session and sorting out the book list. A great mixture of picture and chapter books this time with some classics popping up as well as some great new books. Keving Brook’s came up for the third session running. Loads of people loving his books with great comments coming through for iBoy,which was one of my books of the year.

Other authors to pop up were the multi talented Anne Fine. I remember studying Madame Doubtfire at university and just remember the poignancy of a story so well written and crafted it had a lasting impact on me.

Melvin Burgess popped up as did Mal Peet, Frances Hardinge with a couple of her books, David Almond’s Skellig as well as a bit of Lemony Snicket. The picture books that graced last time, the very wonderful and timeless Hungry Caterpillar (of which my daughter has the cutest sleep suit) and a whole host of Jane Ray books.

All in allit was a pretty good chat and always great fun to host with so many different comments and feelings on so many wonderful books, both classic and a bit more contemporary.

Don’t forget to join in next time this sunday 8pm-9pm!

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