Monday, 1 July 2019

The School Librarian of the Year Award

Last Thursday I was delighted to attend the School Librarian of the Year Award in London. It was held in the Millennium Gloucester Hotel and included afternoon tea, on an absolutely gorgeous set of “Alice” crockery (although as it was hand-wash only I felt sorry for the person having to deal with it all afterwards).


This event is one of the highlights of my calendar as it’s always such a joyous occasion although I’m pleased I don’t have to make the final decision as to the winner. School librarianship is a strange beast. Whilst you could be forgiven for thinking that every school librarian position would be the same - after all schools deal with a narrow age range of pupils all at the same stages of their lives and thus experiencing the same exams, events, etc. so surely their needs are similar? - when you actually look at what each of us do within individual schools it varies enormously depending on the ethos and priorities of the school, support from SMT and budgets. Which makes it very hard to compare like-with-like.  

This year there were three school librarians on the Honour List:

Ros Harding from The King’s School Chester (winner)

Chantal Kelleher from Herne Bay High School

Helen Cleaves from Kingston Grammar School

If you look at their profiles on the School Library Association website, you will see what an asset they all are to their respective schools. One of the features of the afternoon is a video created by each school highlighting the work of their librarian and why they were nominated. What is striking when you watch these isn’t so much the physical aspects of their libraries (wonderful that they are) or even the librarians themselves but the impact they’ve had on their students and staff.

And what this highlights is that you can have a room full of the latest books or cutting-edge technology but without that professional librarian to oversee it, the synergy between students, staff and resources just isn’t going to happen. School librarians are catalysts and facilitators, and without them the "library" will simply be a room full of “stuff”. It may be used on an ad-hoc piecemeal basis. Some teachers may take their classes in to change books. It could even be packed at breaktimes with a member of staff supervising students. But the library and its resources will certainly not be used to its full potential, you need a librarian for this – engendering reading, supporting teaching and learning, providing a safe space for all students.

Have a look at the videos and you’ll see what I mean. The most powerful parts are where students and staff are talking about their librarians. If you work in a school and are lucky enough to have a school librarian, do you really know what they do, and how they can support you and your students? Are you using them to their full potential, utilising their skills, experience and knowledge to bring value-added to all aspects of your school? And if you’re in one of those schools that don’t have a school library and/or librarian (and several don’t) maybe it’s time to ask the powers-that-be why not? Because the people losing out here are your students ….


Tuesday, 30 April 2019

MAY 2019 - Updated course/event list


An updated list – as at May 2019.  New events are in red to make them easier to spot. 


·         LIBRARY & ACADEMIC STUDY SKILLS TEACHMEET
7 May, Sheffield Hallam University, 9.30am
Free event aimed at HE staff and academic study skills practitioners

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/sheffield-hallam-university-library-amp-skills-centre-teachmeet-18717922656


·         WALKER BOOKS – 2019 HIGHLIGHTS
CILIP Youth Libraries Group London
8 May, 6pm – 8.30pm
https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1221955&group=201316


·         COMIC BOOK CORNER: USING GRAPHIC NOVELS TO ENGAGE YOUNG PEOPLE
CILIP Youth Libraries Group North East Training Day
18 May, 10am – 3.30pm, Newcastle City Library
https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1219473&group=201316



·         LEVEL UP: GAME_BASED LEARNING, CHILDREN’S INFORMATION SKILLS AND FAKE NEWS
CILIP Youth Libraries Group London
21 May, Canada Water Library, 9.00am – 4.15pm
https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1201957&group=201316


·         LIBRARIANS SUPPORTING EPQ
Herts SLA branch
22 May, Beaumont School, St Albans, 9am – 12 noon
Free for SLA members; £5 donation for non-members

Contact: Julie Vance,
jvance@st-albans.herts.sch.uk


·         PROMOTING READING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
School Library Association course
23 May, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=106


·         AGM AND TRAINING DAY
CILIP School Libraries Group (SLG)
31 May, details TBC


·         TEACHING SKILLS FOR SCHOOL LIBRARY STAFF
School Library Association Course
5 June, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Aimed at KS2 and secondary school librarians
 
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=38



·         PICTURE AND COMIC BOOKS FOR ALL
School Library Association Course
11 June, Heath Educational Books, Surrey
Aimed at primary and secondary schools; discount for Heath’s customers
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=107




·         MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN A SCHOOL LIBRARY SETTING School Library Association
11 June, 9.30am – 3.00pm, Wirral Grammar Schools for Girls

·         AGM
CILIP Youth Libraries Group
12 June, Nosy Crow, London
Contact details: TBC – sign up for news of events at
https://tinyurl.com/ybz72xfc



·         READING PROMOTION TOOLKIT WITH ACCELERATED READER
School Library Association
19 June, 9.30am – 3.00pm, Heath Educational Books, Surrey
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=91&rtn=training-calendar.php&rtntxt=Training%20Calendar



·         GREAT SCHOOL LIBRARIES: BUILDING LIFELONG READERS
Brooklands Farm Primary School, Milton Keynes
19 June 3.00pm – 5.30pm
Free twilight session organised by Peters
https://peters.co.uk/event/great-school-libraries-building-lifelong-readers-brooklands-farm/



·         FESTIVAL OF EDUCATION
20 – 21 June, Wellington College, Berkshire
www.educationfest.co.uk


·         BUILDING IDENTITY, BUILDING READERS
School Library Association/Youth Library Association Weekend course
21 – 23 June, Birmingham
https://www.sla.org.uk/weekend-course.php


·         THE POWER OF PICTURES: PICTUREBOOKS AND VISUAL LITERACY

CILIP Youth Libraries Group, South East
26 June, 9.30am – 4pm, Bromley Library

https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1226859&group=201316


·         CILIP CONFERENCE
3 – 4 July, University of Manchester
www.cilipconference.org.uk/


·         LITERACY AND PLAY FOR ALL: IMPROVISATION, POSSIBILITY AND IMAGINATION
UKLA 55th International Conference
12 – 14 July, Sheffield
https://ukla.org/conferences/event/ukla-55th-international-conference-2019#sthash.kjl9T53s.dpbs


·         YALC: UK’S YA LIT CON at LONDON FILM & COMIC CON
26 – 28 July, Olympia, London
https://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com/

Sunday, 31 March 2019

BOOK GROUPS - WHAT? WHY? WHO? WHEN?


The School Library Association Berkshire branch recently held an Unconference. This was our second such day and, like the first, was very successful. For those who have never attended an Unconference before, they are a fairly informal CPD event where the attendees drive the topics and discussions. However, our day was a mix of formal and informal activities. We had arranged talks from Alison Tarrant, CE of the SLA; author, Mez Blume; and RISC, the Reading International Solidarity Centre plus had two informal breakout discussions.

I delivered a session on book groups – a sort of “how to” rather than a list of ideas and suggestions:

WHY BOOK GROUPS?

·       Book groups promote and encourage reading – this is what librarians do and running such groups are part and parcel of our arsenal! Books and reading are our USP.

·       The majority of schools provide extra-curricular activities with staff organising all sorts of things outside lessons and librarians are no exception. Book groups count as an extra-curricular activity – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

·       Reading is, by its nature, solitary; book groups allow students to share and talk about what they’re reading, they turn reading into a social event. Anyone who loves reading also tends to like talking about books!

·       An open reading group where anyone can sign up will tend to attract the same people; unsurprisingly, those who like reading.  There’s nothing wrong with this and it’s great for students to have “their” place in the school. However, book groups can be used to target specific students – low ability readers, reluctant readers, more-able students, etc. It needs collaboration with the English departments to identify students and an invitation to attend rather than a general “sign up if interested” but focused groups can work well. I’ve run several smaller groups like this with great success, for example, a group of reluctant year 9 students who read Anne Cassidy books and then went to see “Looking for JJ” performed at a local theatre. (Warning – some of her books are for older readers rather than teens).
The other option to consider is limiting it to a specific year group. This will enable you to select books that are more suitable for the ages represented plus it can be less intimidating for younger students to mix with their peers.



HOW MANY?

The automatic response to this is to try and get as many students as possible interested but too many people in a group tends to make it a bit unfocused and chaotic with little time for useful discussion and sharing. Also, if you want everyone to read the same book then you’ll need lots of copies.

There are solutions. A large group could be split into smaller groups, each of them reading the same book (the BookTrust School Library Pack is excellent for this). You could also split the group into pairs or threes but both of these options take more time and effort to organise.

Not enough participants can make the whole thing a bit flat, especially if some of them don’t come to every meeting; it’s hard to generate any sort of buzz or discussion with 2 people.  However, I always feel that if you’ve made an impact on just one student, turned just one of them into a reader then you’ve been successful.

The recommended number is around 8 – 10 so if some don’t turn up then the group still works.



WHERE/WHEN?

The obvious answer to this is “in the library” – hopefully surrounded by a wide-ranging and curated collection so you can suggest further books along the lines of “this is similar”, “if you liked that then try this” or even “you might find this interesting, give it a go”. 
The group certainly needs to be held in a quiet place with few interruptions which can sometimes be difficult. If you can a separate room off the library, that might work but only if you have staff or responsible students running the library when you’re not there. Of course, if you have a pro-active reading group that have taken ownership on board then it’s feasible that you can leave them to get on with things themselves but, as a librarian, it’s nice to have some input, form those relationships and talk books with them.

The frequency of meetings really will depend on the type of groups you are running. If you’re shadowing a book award then it’s likely you’ll need frequent meetings in order to get through the shortlist in the time available. Monthly or half-termly meetings mean less pressure and fewer clashes with other activities but may not be frequent enough to keep the impetus going, particularly if you’re working with reluctant or less-able readers.

When really does depend on your specific circumstances. Before or after school can work and it’s often easier to close the library at that time but if you have students who are “bussed” in then it won’t be very inclusive. Break is another possibility providing you have management support to shut the library at that time or staff who can run things as normal. During tutor time? That depends on how long it is as any group will need a certain amount of time to be successful.

Basically, you have to work with what you’ve got and sort out whatever suits your situation. But there’s usually a way round problems and if the school has any sort of focus on reading or literacy then this gives you a reason to push for time to run a book group.



STRUCTURE?

·       Start with refreshments and time to chat.

·       Get their immediate reaction to the book.

·       Move onto questions – What is the book about? What messages does it have? Plot/characters (the CKG criteria is good for this particularly with more-able readers)?  Favourite bit?
How much you discuss and in what depth will depend on what you want from the group. Do you just want it to be about book chat, an exchange of opinions or more of an analysis of the book?
If you do decide to use questions it’s a good idea to prepare them in advance.

·       Have you read anything similar?

·       Activities – if you have time and want to do them.
These could be linked to the book or vaguely book-related. We’ve done things like read “Mister Creecher” by Chris Priestley then researched organ transplant/cloning and discussed the ethics around these. Or created posters based on books read and used them in a library display. Or coloured in bookmarks as a mindfulness activity around exam time.



WHAT TO READ?

Anything and everything is the simple answer! It’s important to let the students choose although, to a certain extent, this will be determined by availability. But there are lots of things you could try:

·       Put all their suggestions into a pot and have a lucky dip or vote on them.

·       If there’s an author visit students are able to attend then link with this.

·       Likewise, if you know a film based on a book is about to be released.

·       Occasionally plays are linked to books – again, a good idea for a book choice and follow-up visit.

·       Don’t forget about picture books, graphic novels, comics, information books. You could shadow the Kate Greenaway Award (illustrations) or the Excelsior Award (graphic novels) or the SLA Information Book Award.

·       A great session I’ve run is revisiting childhood picture books. Things like Spot, Bear Hunt, Hungry Caterpillar, etc. It generated so much talk and excitement!

·       Although you’ll probably have to plan what you’re going to read in advance because of getting copies of the books and preparing questions/activities, be adaptable and open to trying something unusual.


SOURCING BOOKS?

One of the main problems with running a book group is sourcing the books. Unless you have a large budget (and are happy buying multiple copies of a book) then this is a problem for most librarians.

As mentioned previously, the BookTrust School Library Pack is excellent for use with book groups as eligible schools receive 5 copies of each title. Consider collaboration. Get together with local schools and borrow copies of their books - this also works for Carnegie titles. It’s not unusual to find, a couple of years after an award, that you have several copies of the shortlisted books on the shelves which aren’t being borrowed. Yes, it takes a bit of cooperation and helps if you plan in advance so the books can be exchanged at meetings but it’s much cheaper than buying them.

Check out the public library. Many of them have schemes whereby groups can borrow sets of books. There’s usually an annual fee and the titles will be more suitable for older readers but it’s another source of material.

If you are lucky enough to still have an SLS contact them and see if they can help.

Once you’ve sorted out your list, ask parents/staff for donations – particularly if they’re popular books. And check out local charity shops.

Finally … don’t forget the PTA! And if you’re lucky enough to get funding for multiple copies, once you’ve used the books don’t allow them to gather dust in a cupboard, let others know they are available (see above) …

NB. I haven’t mentioned e-books as this will depend on access and hardware availability but they are another possibility.



FINALLY ….

·       Make it fun. It’s their decision whether to come or not and it should be “reading for pleasure” so no testing or reviews (unless they want to).

·       Give students ownership of the group.

·       Organise social events such as an end of term party.

·       Be flexible – sometimes talk goes off at a tangent and is nothing to do with the book in question. They’re teenagers and have a lot going on so maybe that week they just need time to chill or work through a few worries.

·       Food is important …




Friday, 1 February 2019

FEBRUARY UPDATED CPD LIST OF EVENTS


As promised, an updated list of CPD events. Those that have already occurred have been greyed and a couple of new ones added – in red to make them easier to spot if you’ve already looked at this list. Two of those are in the SW, one in Milton Keynes and one in Liverpool.



·         BETT
23 – 26 January, ExCel, London
www.bettshow.com

Free entry


·         EVENT SLAM
Joint CILIP Youth Libraries Group/Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Event
23 January, Marquis Cornwallis, London
www.scbwi.org/


·         GREAT SCHOOL LIBRARIES: BUILDING LIFELONG READERS
Free twilight event organised by peters
29 January, Peters Children’s Books, Birmingham
https://peters.co.uk/event/great-school-libraries-building-lifelong-readers/


·         REFUGEES WEEK/HELPING ESL STUDENTS
School Library Association London branch
6 February, London
Details:
Oceane.Toffoli@wim.gdst.net



·         BRINGING IT ALIVE! STORYTELLING TO BOOST LITERACY AND READING FOR PLEASURE
School Library Association Course
12 February, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Aimed at primary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=100


·         PREPARING THE SCHOOL LIBRARY FOR INSPECTION
School Library Association course
13 February, Essex
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=105


·         READING ROCKS EVENT #RR_SouthWest
23 February, North Town Primary School, Taunton
9.30am – 4pm
Aimed at primary school staff and librarians

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rr-southwest-tickets-52316469970


·         MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN A SCHOOL LIBRARY SETTING
School Library Association Course
28 February, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=109


·         COPY AND PASTE GENERATION
School Library Association course
28 February, SLS Warwick
Aimed at secondary schools; discount for Warwickshire SLS subscribers
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=93


·         HELP, I’M IN CHARGE OF THE SECONDARY SCHOOL LIBRARY!
School Library Association course
28 February, Manchester
Aimed at secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=103


·         INFORMATION LITERACY TEACHING FOR NEW(ER) PROFESSIONALS
CILIP Information Literacy Group
4 March, UWE Bristol
https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?alias=ILteachSW


·         THE BLACK GIRLS BOOK CLUB PRESENTS
Ensuring A Diverse Collection in the Library
CILIP Youth Libraries Group London
6 March, Moon Lane Books, London, Evening event
Contact details: TBC – sign up for news of events at
https://tinyurl.com/ybz72xfc



·         PICTURE AND COMIC BOOKS FOR ALL
School Library Association Course
12 March, EES for Schools, Essex
Aimed at primary and secondary schools; discount for EES subscribers
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=107


·         LONDON BOOK FAIR
12 – 14 March, Olympia, London
www.londonbookfair.co.uk
Free entry for CILIP members


·         MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN A SCHOOL LIBRARY SETTING
School Library Association Course
14 March, Epsom, Surrey
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=109


·         PROMOTING READING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
School Library Association course
14 March, Cardiff
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=106


·         UKLA/OU READING FOR PLEASURE CONFERENCE


·         MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN A SCHOOL LIBRARY SETTING
School Library Association Course
19 March, Blandford, Dorset
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=109


·         LOVE LITERACY 2019
20 March, Birmingham
9am – 4.30pm
https://peters.co.uk/event/love-literacy-2019/



·         PROMOTING READING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
School Library Association course
21 March, Burnley, Lancashire
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=106


·         FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH READING – HOW TO REKINDLE THE PASSION
CILIP Youth Libraries Group (Eastern) Training Day
22 March, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1106975&group=201316


·         UNCONFERENCE
School Library Association Berkshire Branch
23 March, St George’s School, Ascot, Berkshire
Free, everyone welcome
 
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sla-berkshire-unconference-tickets-53618646816?aff=eac2



·         READING PROMOTION TOOLKIT WITH ACCELERATED READER
School Library Association Course
26 March, Heath Educational Books, Surrey
Aimed at primary and secondary schools; discount for Heath’s customers
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=91


·         OPENING DOORS: THE SCHOOL LIBRARY IN A CULTURALLY DIVERSE SOCIETY
School Library Association Course
28 March, Peters, Birmingham
Aimed at primary and secondary schools; discount for Peters’ customers
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=102



·         YOUNG PEOPLE, MENTAL HEALTH AND READING
CILIP Youth Libraries Group (YLG) South West Training Day
29 March, Bristol
https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1159740&group=


·         READING ROCKS EVENT #RRGoesToUni
30 March, Liverpool John Moores University
Aimed at primary and secondary school staff and librarians
9.30am – 4pm

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rrgoestouni-2019-tickets-52317040677



·         FEDERATION OF CHILDREN’S BOOK GROUPS CONFERENCE
12 – 13 April, Woldingham School, Caterham
Also check out the website for details of local meetings and events
www.fcbg.org.uk/conference/


·         LILAC
CILIP Information Literacy Group conference
24 – 26 April, University of Nottingham
www.lilacconference.com


·         ONE DAY TRAINING SCHOOL: INFORMATION LITERACY
CILIP Youth Libraries Group London
21 May, Canada Water Library, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Contact details: TBC – sign up for news of events at
https://tinyurl.com/ybz72xfc


·         PROMOTING READING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
School Library Association course
23 May, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Aimed at primary and secondary schools
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=106


·         AGM AND TRAINING DAY
CILIP School Libraries Group (SLG)
31 May, details TBC


·         TEACHING SKILLS FOR SCHOOL LIBRARY STAFF
School Library Association Course
5 June, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Aimed at KS2 and secondary school librarians
 
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=38



·         PICTURE AND COMIC BOOKS FOR ALL
School Library Association Course
11 June, Heath Educational Books, Surrey
Aimed at primary and secondary schools; discount for Heath’s customers
https://www.sla.org.uk/regional-course-details.php?mode=detail&i=107



·         AGM
CILIP Youth Libraries Group
12 June, Nosy Crow, London
Contact details: TBC – sign up for news of events at
https://tinyurl.com/ybz72xfc



·         GREAT SCHOOL LIBRARIES: BUILDING LIFELONG READERS
Brooklands Farm Primary School, Milton Keynes
19 June 3.00pm – 5.30pm
Free twilight session organised by Peters
https://peters.co.uk/event/great-school-libraries-building-lifelong-readers-brooklands-farm/



·         FESTIVAL OF EDUCATION
20 – 21 June, Wellington College, Berkshire
www.educationfest.co.uk


·         BUILDING IDENTITY, BUILDING READERS
School Library Association/Youth Library Association Weekend course
21 – 23 June, Birmingham
https://www.sla.org.uk/weekend-course.php


·         CILIP CONFERENCE
3 – 4 July, University of Manchester
www.cilipconference.org.uk/


·         LITERACY AND PLAY FOR ALL: IMPROVISATION, POSSIBILITY AND IMAGINATION
UKLA 55th International Conference
12 – 14 July, Sheffield
https://ukla.org/conferences/event/ukla-55th-international-conference-2019#sthash.kjl9T53s.dpbs


·         YALC: UK’S YA LIT CON at LONDON FILM & COMIC CON
26 – 28 July, Olympia, London
https://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com/