National Survey Results – Could do better!

School Librarians deliver their report card to Education Minister Nick Gibb.

Key findings include:

9 in 10 schools in England that participated in the research have access to a designated library space, falling to 67% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland however;

Schools with a higher proportion of students on free school meals are more than twice as likely not to have access to a designated library space;

Employment terms for librarians and library staff fall below national standards, with low pay and little investment in professional development and training.

To download the report for yourself, please visit the Great School Libraries website.

Commenting on the publication of the research, Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP said: ” We welcome this landmark report as the first comprehensive picture of the state of play in our school libraries. On the one hand, it is a testament to the Head Teachers, Governors, Teachers and Librarians that value and promote the importance of school libraries for their learners and their schools. On the other hand the research paints a picture of inequality of access and opportunity and insecure employment that we cannot accept. The findings highlight the urgency of securing a national School Libraries Strategies and investment in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, drawing on the example of Scotland.”

To find out more about the Great School Libraries Campaign, please visit their website: www.greatschoollibraries.org.uk

Posted in Advocacy, Impact Evaluation, Libraries, School Libraries, Training and CPD | Leave a comment

Key Issues – A Good Starting Point

SLG are proud to present the first three leaflets in our new series Key Issues. These little booklets are meant to be taster introductions to some important subjects you need to know as professionals. Written by members of the SLG Committee, they all give a short introduction to the subject, and further links if you want to know more. These three leaflets deal with Cataloguing and Classification written by Sarah Pavey, Using Twitter written by Caroline Roche and Impact Evaluation written by
Lucy Chambers. I hope you find these three useful, and look out for more in the series coming soon!

Posted in School Libraries | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reading Rooms, Karen Usher

In 2017 Hull was UK City of Culture and thousands of wonderful events took place. The programme sought to involving the whole city in multifarious events – both as spectators and as participants.

Reading Rooms was a legacy project started by DerryLondonDerry – the previous UK City of Culture. It was run by Hull Libraries and as a newly retired librarian fulfilled my craving to involve people with books. The premise is that we read a story or extract to a group of people. We break the stories into chunks and invite the participants to talk about the stories and incidents in their lives that the stories remind them of. So, its Talking Rooms too! We finish each session with a short poem that matches the theme of the story in some way. We ask the group if any of them would like to read the poem after we have discussed it.

To become a member of the Reading Rooms team one attended two and a half days of training – involving safeguarding as well how to actually do a session – lots of practice of the latter before a filmed try out with analysis of our performance. Glad to say I passed!!

Over the last two and a half years I have done a weekly RR with another volunteer (we always try to do RR in two’s) at an independent living facility in Hull (another whole blog!), a six week session at a special school and covered for holiday absences at two locked care homes. There is an enormous amount of joy mixed with a small but not insignificant amount of pain in doing Reading Rooms.

You make friends with total strangers who open their lives to you. Participants in my regular group are aged between 25 and 92 years old. Some have lived in Hull their whole lives with occasional trip to Bridlington! Others have seen the world. Almost all are now on their own and many have health problems. We have seen our numbers fluctuate as members have gone to more secure accommodation or their health means they can’t attend the sessions. I am most pleased that some of our regulars who never used to speak now join in the ‘conversation’.

I have been told off for being late – usually I arrive early but being just-in-time was ‘late’! I took cupcakes on my birthday and the following week was given a present 😊 There has been a lot of laughter – one story about a fashion shoot in an Italian seaside town I read in a faux Italian accent and I brought the house down helped by the risqué actions of a villager who didn’t like the ‘photoshoot’ and dropped his trousers in protest, and then there was ‘Albert and the Lion’ in a Yorkshire accent – well possibly a Yorkshire accent!

The stories and poems are picked by the Hull Library team who organise RR. Sometime we all don’t like the story, sometimes the poem is a little too opaque for participants but they keep coming back. 

After the session we often chat about what has been going on – visits from llamas, donkeys, dogs and birds of prey happen on a regular basis. The facility has a large and beautiful garden. There are concerts and demonstrations and participatory events.

The librarian in me is sated and my horizons expanded by their fascinating life experiences and I will keep going as long as they keep turning up.

Reading Rooms is supported by Hull Libraries and The James Reckitt Fund. Reading Rooms takes place in Care Homes, Independent Living Facilities, Schools, with Home Educated groups, Hospices and in a variety of departments of The Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.


Posted in School Libraries | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Student Library Assistant Training Day 12.12.19

This very popular training day is running again at The Elmgreen School in London. Why not take along your pupil library assistants for a day of learning and fun. For full details download the flyer below.

Once you’ve trained up your assistants don’t forget to nominate them for the Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award!

Posted in School Libraries | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Librarians as Teachers and Information Skills Developers, Elizabeth Hutchinson

I was recently asked to talk at the SLG training day and this is the talk I gave: 


School libraries are in crisis. Fake news and misinformation are rife and it seems to me that Google is taking over the world. Our role as school librarians and teachers is to bring our expertise to education and the curriculum and through doing this help our schools understand the value that our libraries bring to their students and teachers. 

I am not sure about you but I know that when I finally decided that I wanted to become a librarian I never thought about the fact that that I was signing up to teaching as well. I was a late starter so after leaving school at 16 I worked in Newcastle City library until I got married when I left to bring up my children. So I was 36 by the time I got my degree in Information and Library Studies, I knew that I was going to work for Schools Library Service in Guernsey and in no way did this prepare me for a job working in school libraries and if someone had asked me about teaching at that time I would have laughed.  

I think back in 2003 my understanding of school libraries was very much from my own experience from school. A space where I could hide at lunch and break time, read books not chosen by my mother and somewhere that we were taken for the odd lesson to find a book on a subject we were studying. This was a memory from my middle school and I am sad to say that I don’t remember my secondary school library at all.

I am glad to say that this has all changed over my 16 years of working with school libraries both within Guernsey and beyond. I believe that I joined the profession at the right time. A time where the internet was beginning to take root and our skills as librarians were needed more than ever. No longer were we the people who only look after the books; we had so much more to offer.  The issue, however, has always been how can we transition through the barrier of expectations to reality. The definition of ‘teacher’ is one whose occupation is to instruct

Teachers by definition have a body of knowledge that they use to instruct  i.e. subject specialists. Librarians, on the other hand, instruct what? I would say that our specialism is information literacy but where has that come from?  

We know that school librarians have knowledge of curation and expertise in research and this should bring us front and central into teaching but with no training or support how do we go about teaching it. Although, knowledge, passion, drive, commitment and ability to instruct could be our greatest asset we have such a fragmented profession we seem to be unable to communicate to schools why this is important. Part of the reason for this is we have no instruction on instruction and secondly we are de-professionalising the profession. Where do we learn how to teach let alone work out what it is we need to teach? It is important that we make sure that we are doing all we can to give ourselves a fighting chance. It is no longer possible for us to wait for things to change, we need to be the change. 

So how do we do this? Sadly there is no blueprint for how school librarians teach and instruct research skills. There was no-one there to teach me how to teach, so what do you do when you suddenly find yourself in front of a class for the very first time? I think like most of you I began to realise that if this was going to be part of my job and I had to find a way through it.  

However, most of us have not got 16 years to work it out so I thought I would give you my top 4 survival tips to teaching that you can take away today…

Tip 1 Know and understand your own expertise

Our skill set is resource management. In simplest terms we know how to:

·      Find good quality information quickly, efficiently and ethically

·      Critically evaluate sources

·      Give credit for what we find and produce bibliographies

These are all skills that our students and teachers need. Don’t be fooled that your teachers and students know more than you do. Just because they can turn on an iPad and type a question into Google does not make them experts in research and critical thinking.“Teachers forget that learning how to do research is not an innate skill and is not the same as being tech-savvy” A Quote from a recent JCS blog. (‘How school librarians are meeting the challenges of teaching information literacy | JCS’, n.d.) 

Without question, they need your expertise but maybe they just don’t know that yet. However, do you understand your own level of expertise? I would like to explain this by using Neil Gaiman’s famous quote “Google can find you a million answers a librarian can find you the right one” How many of us have shared this quote? I have to admit that I am one that did so this is not a criticism! However, over the years I have begun to understand that if this is how we see ourselves we are going along with the stereotype and misunderstand our own level of expertise.  

Librarians as teachers are not about putting the answer into the hands of our students but to teach them how to access and make sense of the information they find. This begins to point to a different role for the school librarian, where the librarian and teacher collaborate to help students build knowledge from information.  

This moves away from the traditional role of the school librarian. 

  • The teacher asks the student to find X, 
  • The student goes to the librarian and asks for X, 
  • The student takes X  back to the teacher. 

Everyone is happy but who has learnt anything? 

You have so much more to offer! 

Tip 2 Widen your vocabulary

  • Know your own tools and how they link with the curriculum
  • Online catalogue 
  • Online resources
  • Finding more than one source
  • Website evaluation, fake news, misinformation, e-safety 
  • Learn “Teacher speak” 

If you have a library management system or any online resources, learn how to talk about them as digital literacy tools. Know the features that will enhance student learning and research and offer to share this with teachers and then to support them in the classroom the first time they want to use it with their students. Find out the tips and tricks that make searching these tools easier and use the same terminology as the teachers.

·      Pedagogy (The methods of teaching in other words how do you teach?) 

·      Heuristics (Allowing students to learn by discovering for themselves)

So, for example, I now use the phrase that FOSIL is a pedagogy tool to support student heuristics. Sound great doesn’t it? All it means is that FOSIL is a tool that supports students learning for themselves. 

There are many more but the more you learn the easier it is talking to teachers. When I hear something new I try and learn what it means and then use it when appropriate. Don’t hide behind your library terminology, widen your vocabulary and speak to them in their own language even if we mean the same thing. We need to move into the teaching world as they are really not going to move into ours.  

It is important that we understand that we are learning to become a teacher and the more we comfortable we are with this, the easier it will be to talk with authority. We are not pretending to be teachers we are learning to become teachers. 

Tip 3 Commit yourself to an ongoing process of purposeful professional learning. 

  • Joining in CPD from school
  • Building up a map of your school curriculum 
  • SLG
  • SLA
  • FOSIL Group forum 
  • IFLA Guidelines for school libraries 

It is important that we are proactive in our own learning. How does this look for you and how will you achieve this? 

The majority of us have arrived in the school library without teacher training so how do we go about finding what we need? We know that there are training opportunities within our own schools. Make sure you are part of the same training offered to teachers. Building up a picture of what is going on in school. In primary schools, make sure you have a map of the curriculum and can confidently talk to teachers about what they are planning to teach. In secondary knowing what the expectations are for exam boards. i.e in Geography they need to reference and caption a picture. If you know that is what they need to do you then have the opportunity to start a conversation. 

SLG and SLA provide training opportunities which do cost money, however, before you say that you know that your school won’t pay or give you time off you need to understand that it is still an opportunity for you to raise awareness of the importance of your own CPD. It is essential that you ask every year and tell them why you need to attend. Don’t make this a tick box exercise really find out about the courses and generate a good argument. This professionalism speaks volumes! 

IFLA – International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions guidelines has been put together by the international association of school librarianship giving an inspirational and aspirational vision for what a school library ought to be with Free practical workshops to move you forward in your journey as a school librarian. 

A shameless plug! I run an online forum for school library staff #LibraryStaffLoveLearning in order to read books, articles, blog or listen to podcasts or TED talks to create a place for learning in a safe environment. I did it because I did not feel that I was reading enough myself and wanted to provide something that was not too expensive and to provide something for others. You can read it all without having to sign up but if you want to comment you do need to register and apart from the occasional cost of a book the only other commitment is your time. 

I would also add that if you have asked to be sent on training and the answer is no then a follow up asking for a book to join in CPD in your own time is more likely to be allowed. 

Tip 4 Practice, practice, practice

Once you have started on the above 3 it is important that you learn how to talk about what you can do and why you do it and the only way to do this is to practice talking about it. With your colleagues, with your teachers, with your friends (ok not too often unless you want to lose all your friends)  

I once said to Darryl that I would never be able to talk about what I do the way he did and he said to me that the more you do it the better you will become. Which is true. Everyone has to start somewhere and sometimes you are not going to get it right. You are going to leave a conversation and go.. I wish I had remembered to say …But each time you do this the better you will get at it. 

Remember that you are the only one who knows what you are capable of. You are the only one who can make this happen but you are not on your own. We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise around us and we just need to be prepared to find it and use it.  

And finally what has kept me going into classrooms and teaching all this time? This one simple phrase that keeps getting said over and over again by teachers I have worked with. “I wish I had been taught that at school.” This to me says that my role in the classroom is important for future generations of children and teachers. 

The survival of our profession is more than the individual librarian in their schools. We have to look beyond ourselves where we are, to where we need to get to. The only way we are to survive is to lay the foundations for those who are coming behind us. If we are only looking to our future we are helping to sell our profession short. 

We are teachers, we do know what we are talking about and it is time to unleash our own potential.

Posted in School Libraries | Tagged , | 1 Comment

AGM and Training Day, The Power Of Us: The Many Roles of School Librarians

CILIP School Libraries Group will be holding a training day and AGM on Friday 18th October at CILIP HQ in London.

Programme outline:

09.15   Coffee and Registration

09.45   Welcome and Housekeeping – Caroline Roche, Chair SLG

09.50   Librarians and Great School Libraries

  • Caroline Roche #GSL campaign
  • Ros Harding, Kings School Chester & School Librarian of the Year 2019

10.20   Librarians as Reading Promoters

  • Lucas Maxwell, Glenthorne School London

10.50   Coffee break

11.20   SLG AGM plus CILIP update from Jo Cornish, Head of Sector Development, CILIP

12.00   Librarians as Teachers and Information Skills Developers

  • Elizabeth Hutchinson, Independent Trainer and Adviser for School Libraries 

12.30   Meet Macmillan Children’s Books Author Hilary Mckay

             Hilary will be talking about her writing and her Costa Award winning novel The Skylarks War

13.00   Lunch and Book Signing

14.00   Librarians as Creators and Developers

  • Rhiannon Salvin Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award winner 2019, Firth Park Academy, Sheffield
  • Alison Edwards, School Librarian, Firth Park Academy

14.30   Librarians as Authors: Meet the Harper Collins Children’s Author and ex school librarian Anna James

             Anna, will be talking about her Pages and Co books and the new title Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales

15.00   Tea and Book Signing

15.30   Librarians Reaching Out Across the World

  • Darryl Toerien, Head of Library and Archives, Oakham School
  • Annie Everall, Director Authors Aloud UK

16.00   Summary of the Day – Caroline Roche

16.15   Close of Day

Macmillan Children’s Books and Harper Collins Children’s Books will have a display of their new books for delegates to look at.

All delegates will receive a goodie bag of proofs and publicity materials.

A bookshop will be provided by Rosemary Hill Books

Booking Information

Bookings now have to be made directly though the CILIP YM system

To book a place, please follow the link:    https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/register.aspx?id=1258474

Costs:  CILIP Members £50 + VAT, Non Members £65 + VAT

Closing date for bookings: Friday 11th October

For enquiries please contact:

Posted in School Libraries | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reflecting On Your Role As Librarian – Time To Change?, Sarah Pavey

Schools run within a safety structure of rules and regulations many of which have been in place for decades. This provides continuity for the ever changing personnel within the community. But seldom are these edicts challenged or adapted because to do so entails the bravery of stepping out of your comfort zone and sticking your head above the parapet. So the school adds to regulations and hence workload but rarely reflects and takes away what is no longer necessary. As librarians we are often in danger of picking up the tasks no-one else wants to do because, as natural organisers, we can present as if we are able to add more to our day or maybe it is because there is no-one else for people to delegate to. We run the risk of being overworked and stressed and the jobs that maybe we should be concentrating on fall by the wayside. This can impact severely on our perceived role. Time to change! 

What we need in place to effect change

There are certain things that we need in place if we are going to be able to reflect effectively on our role, reduce our stress levels and make more impact. 

  • A job description which reflects what we actually do
  • A mission statement for the library stating our aims and objectives and outcomes
  • One year and five year development plans

When constructing these important documents we need to make sure that they fit with the aims and targets of the school. It is worth looking at the way the school presents itself to the wider world on their website and also reading the recommendations of the latest Ofsted report and seeing how the library can contribute. 

Within this blog, however, I will be concentrating on the importance of re-evaluating your role through your job description. 

How accurate is your job description?

When was the last time you read your job description? For many of us it might be when we were first appointed to our job. For others things may have been added sneakily without any consultation. Do you know which version of your job description is held on file or which version your line manager has? Job descriptions should be reviewed at least once a year and more often when changes take place and more demands are placed upon you. Any changes, no matter who suggests them, need to be mutually agreed. 

Because librarians are organised people by trade, we tend to be good at multitasking and fitting in extra tasks in response to change. This can give the impression that we have time to spare to others so it is important to make what we do explicit. Getting a new book shelf ready for the non specialist may seem a simple and quick task whereas we know it can take some time with cataloguing, classification, and labelling let alone the financial recording and selection. It is amazing what we manage to fit into our limited time and we need to demonstrate this skill to others in the school community. Enter the lists…….

Surprise yourself by writing down EVERYTHING that you do during the school year. If possible add a rough estimate of the time you spend on the task. Don’t forget to add your breaks that you are entitled to as well – this is very important for your wellbeing as will be discussed later. Now select which tasks are most important to you and which tasks you feel are not really your responsibility. 

Using your job description to effect change

The Pareto Principle of workloads states that

“80% of our work time contributes to only 20% of the results.”

Therefore if we concentrate on the most crucial 20% of our workload, i.e. the tasks with the highest priority then our overall performance will still be strong but it will take less time.

How do we identify these tasks? You might think you know, but a common pitfall is that we hide behind tasks that keep us occupied and which are comforting because they do not challenge us and we avoid some of the jobs we really need to do. Try fitting the tasks you do into the following grid.

How does this reflect your contribution to the school’s aims and objectives? It is now worth taking this to your line manager and asking them how they see your priorities. Do they differ? Having this information on paper allows for a non emotional discussion that is task orientated rather than personal – the discussion revolves around getting the job done in the most efficient way using your skills and identifying any training needs you may have. 

A similar approach might be used when thinking about longer term planning. You might devise a grid covering what you do now (tasks and time allowance), what you will need to do in the next year, and what you would need to add in to develop the library and its services in the future. Similarly this can initiate a discussion about prioritisation and help remove tasks that are no longer necessary for you to do. 

Following this type of approach questions may be raised by your line manager such as “why do you have to do this?” and it gives you the opportunity to explain the impact it has on teaching and learning and consequence if it is not done.  It might also raise issues about whether it is the right task for you to be doing or whether it is really someone else’s responsibility – this is certainly the case with some administrative jobs that can be quite time consuming but actually could be done by someone other than the librarian giving you more time to devote to your specific role. 

Workload and stress

As librarians we like to present as the ultimate service but if we are not careful we can become overloaded because we do not like to say no. In part this may be a fear of rejection of our library service in the long term but actually being more assertive can help others see the value in what we do. The problem is when we feel under pressure and stressed it can make us try and work harder, skipping breaks, working unpaid extra hours just to demonstrate how superhuman we are. When we add in our domestic commitments too it becomes impossible and we run around in circles achieving less and pleasing no-one. Eventually something has to give. Short term stress can be beneficial and enhance creativity and productivity but when it becomes long term and routine it has a profound effect on our physical and mental health. 

Stress can be caused by a number of issues but the three main triggers are:

  • time
  • demands
  • change

Using the job description exercise we can help combat all of these potentially inflammatory areas and lessen our risk of stress. We can organise our tasks more efficiently so we only spend time on what we actually need to do to support the school community. The demands put upon us cause stress when either we feel we do not have enough knowledge to complete them or when we feel the job is beneath our capabilities. The exercise will highlight training needs or will make apparent to the line manager that the job might be more suited to someone else in terms of efficiency. The exercise also helps plan for change in terms of what tasks might need to be prioritized and given more time in the future. 

In conclusion

Reflecting on your job description is worth a bit of time as it may give you new impetus for your role within the school and re-energise you as well as reducing your stress levels. In a blog post we can only touch upon some of these important areas but you might wish to look at my Working Smarter online course. The new edition of the Innovative School Librarian also includes a chapter on “becoming integral to teaching and learning” which demonstrates how important it is that our role fits in with the wider aims of the school community rather than our own personal wish list. 

Sarah Pavey, MSc FCLIP

@Sarahinthelib, SP4IL http://www.sp4il.co.uk

REFERENCES

Chapman, A. (2017) Pareto’s principle Available at:  http://www.businessballs.com/pareto-principle-80-20-rule.htm 

Markless, S. et al (2016) The innovative school librarian 2nd Edition London: Facet

Pavey, S. (2019) Working Smarter Online Course. Available at: https://www.sla.org.uk/course/work-smarter-course-information 

Posted in School Libraries | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hampshire School Library Service Book Awards, Jill Florence

Hampshire SLS run four book awards each year, a picture book award for Year 1, an information book award for Year 4, an illustrated book award for Year 5 and one for year 8.

The senior Hampshire Book Award (HBA) is voted on by Year 8 students across the whole of Hampshire and this year we had 39 secondary schools taking part.

Librarians, teachers, year 9 students and SLS staff nominated possible titles for the longlist from paperback books published between September 2017 and August 2018. The shortlisting panel of secondary school librarians and SLS staff met to decide the 6 titles to go onto the shortlist.  

The Hampshire Book Award supports the KS3 English curriculum, promotes the enjoyment of reading and gives enthusiastic readers the opportunity to shine in their chosen field of interest in the same way as other students are encouraged in their aspirations in sport, music or drama. The event was open to all secondary schools who would be SLS subscribers in the summer of 2019. A minimum of 10/maximum of 12 year 8 students make up a school’s panel of judges.

These students are be expected to

  • attend the launch meeting of the shortlisted titles during the launch week of 18 March 2019
  • read ALL six novels on the shortlist by the end of June 2019
  • attend in-school discussion meetings 
  • participate in the voting process
  • be prepared to talk about the books on the shortlist with pupils from their own and other participating schools

There is always much excitement around the launch of the award and the enthusiasm of the students shows through as each shortlisted book is revealed along with a tempting summary of the novel outlined. Students are expected to be a book critic not just a reader. The winning book needs to be not only a great story but one that offers readers something extra- Enjoyment, Enrichment or Engagement.

Students meet in their school library once a week or once a fortnight over a period of 15 weeks to discuss the books, trying hard not to give away any plot lines or cliff hanger moments in any of the books.

This year’s shortlist included:

The Extinction Trials by S M Wilson

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Satellite by Nick Lake

Scarecrow by Danny Weston

Shell by Paula Rawsthorne

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

The grand finale of the award took place on the morning of 3rd July with four simultaneous regional events where local schools came together to have a final discussion about each book and cast their vote for the winning title. Each regional event had at least 120 students attending. Votes were then counted at each event and phoned in to SLS HQ where the Digital Team put together the final PowerPoint and loaded it onto our Moodle for SLS Advisers to play to the waiting audience. The books which didn’t win were randomly removed from the screen one by one, to uproarious feet stamping and clapping as each book was discounted to reveal the overall winner! The students loved being at the event and finding out the winner of the HBA that morning.

The winner of the Hampshire Book Award 2019 is ……………Shell by Paula Rawsthorne. We are absolutely delighted that Paula will be coming to Winchester in October to be presented with a trophy and to give a talk to the students who took part and ultimately voted Shell as the winner.

Posted in School Libraries | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A (school) year in review – what has SLG been doing this year?, Caroline Roche


Now that the school year has drawn to an end, it is time to review what SLG has been doing for our members over the past year.


Great School Libraries Campaign (GSL) :We are working in partnership with the School Library Association (SLA) to oversee the Campaign. We are at the end of our first year of campaigning, and the GSL steering group will be meeting shortly to evaluate the first year, and where we go with the second. The first year was, of course, the year when we launched the questionnaire which was the end result of a couple of years hard work behind the scenes. The results are currently being analysed, and will be communicated to everyone some time in the autumn term.


Conference 2020: Planning is almost complete for our biennial Conference, and we hope to launch bookings and the programme early in the Autumn Term. We have secured the same venue as last time – Kents Hill Conference Centre in Milton Keynes. The Conference will take place from Friday 24 th – Sunday 26 th April. Like previous conferences it will be packed with keynotes and seminars which will satisfy your intellectual curiosity as well as give you great practical ideas to implement as soon as you get back to your schools. We will also have a good mix of authors – who would have known at last conference when we had Muhammad Khan, a new debut author, that he would be so successful with ‘I am Thunder’? In addition, next year marks 40 years of SLG, and we plan to celebrate that Conference, so do plan to be there if you can!

AGM and training day: On October 18 th , at CILIP HQ in London, we shall be holding our AGM, embedded in another great training day. Put the date in your diaries now, details will be released early next term. Again, we will give you the chance to meet a couple of authors and have some excellent training.

Book Packs: Our popular book packs are going to have another addition – Girl Power – which will be launched at the AGM. Details of how you can order any of these can be found here and your school can be invoiced. Some of the book packs from previous years have nearly sold out, so if you were putting off buying one – get yours now!


Regional Training days: these days are one of the ways that we bring benefits to you as members. So far this year we have held two training days – one in Lancaster in June, which has now become established as a yearly event, very well attended. Our vice chair Rosalind Buckland is responsible for building up a strong network and running this event. The second event took place at the Drill Hall Library in Chatham in July. This focussed on post-16 development, and featured Darryl Toerien talking about the FOSIL group and research skills, and Sarah
Pavey giving practical advice on how to apply research skills. This course has proved so popular that we are looking to run it again in the Autumn, at least once, as participants noted that for those of us running EPQ lessons, this was invaluable. One of the comments said “This was the most exciting professional presentation I have heard in a long time. This is the future of school librarianship for me.” If you would like us to run a course near you and can offer us a free venue, close to good transport links, please let me know.

ASCEL and NATE teacher Conferences: Through the GSL Campaign we have been
represented at both of these teacher conferences – the former is for Heads and Senior Leaders, and the latter for English teachers. At both, we highlighted libraries and what we can offer schools, and we had many favourable comments and made good contacts.

Festival of Education: Nick Poole, the CEO of CILIP, spoke about Great School Libraries at this prestigious education event. Educational leaders and politicians go to the Festival, and he spoke to a full room, and made many good contacts for us. See his post on the blog here

In addition to all of this headline news, we are working on the next edition of SLIV (School Libraries in View) which will be out in the Autumn term, planning other Regional Days which will take place after Conference, writing articles for this blog and other publications, tweeting and Instagramming (did you take part in our extremely popular #slgmaybookchallenge? Look out for more of these to come! ) and developing our new Facebook page. If you do not follow us on any of our social media sites please do join the conversation! We are part of the team that runs the Pupil Library Assistant Awards, and we support one of our committee members – currently Darryl Toerien – to speak about school libraries at IFLA. We also speak at conferences – you may have caught vice-chairs Lucy Chambers and Rosalind Buckland speaking about our book packs at the recent SLA/YLG Conference.
All of this is achieved by volunteers who have extremely busy jobs and lives themselves, and I couldn’t be prouder to lead this team of professionals for another year.


If you ever want to email me, I would be happy to respond. This is my email address:
chair.slg@cilip.org.uk


Have a very happy holiday, get lots of reading done, and look out for more blog posts in the summer and bookings and eNewsletters in the Autumn Term!


Caroline Roche, MA, MCLIP
Chair, CILIPSLG

Posted in School Libraries | Tagged | Leave a comment

Parental Leave, Amanda Ball

Earlier this month MP Stella Creasy came out and highlighted the ridiculous lack of maternity cover for her public serving job. She has stated she has had to beg the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for extra money to get in extra help to cover the service she provides, other parliaments in Europe have locum MP’s to cover for MP’s who are sick or who are on parental leave.
As someone who, over the last 6 months has had to try and organise what will happen to the service that I provide during my approaching parental leave I find myself sympathising in the extreme. I am fortunate that my school supports the library, recognises the service that the library provides has impact (through shared figures at line-manager meetings) and regards the school library as “a great place to be”, “a wonderful atmosphere”, “incredibly useful” and “a great resource for our
students”. So, how do you go about persuading your SLT to cover your job with the same level and ability as you? What arguments could you use for maternity or any other long term absence?
Think about these questions when talking to your line manager about a planned long term absence.

  1. What hours do you see the library being open during your absence?
  2. Which services and events would you like to see continued while away? Which ones have the most impact on the students? SLT can’t run everything you do but they and you don’t want all you have built to have collapsed when you come back.
  3. How much technical expertise is needed for each role? Knowledge of the stock and service is vital in some capacities but not in others.
  4. Which long-term or long embedded systems that you are in control of need to be temporarily passed on to someone who can maintain them?
  5. Is there any capacity for development of a library assistant’s role? With added CPD (even if provided by you)?
  6. To what extent are any services or events planned in advance? (I currently am working on a calendar of events, where I am planning out all the displays for the next year. Something I have never done but I am really enjoying!)

In order to help me answer all of the above I decided to make a spreadsheet based on the steps below.

  1. What are the key tasks that you perform day to day, week to week, term to term? Put that in a spreadsheet.
  2. Put next to each task the level of professional knowledge you need for each one
  3. What are the key events that you run during the year? How much work is involved?

My exploration doing this myself produced the spreadsheet below and I hope can be used as a base to show the many different tasks undertaken by library workers who are working in a professional capacity. Some people may not agree with the level of professional knowledge I have put down for things like cataloguing but I created it with a specific purpose that as much of the service to students be retained as possible during my absence.
The key in the spreadsheet also indicates the level of competency of my library assistant who predates me in role and is going to be very busy during my absence, I understand a lot of colleagues are solo workers and may be able to use a variation of this document to illustrate how a library assistant, even part time, can increase the service capacity of the library.

This exercise has been useful in that it gave me an overview of what exactly some schools are missing out on by not hiring a school librarian as a specific role. The events, the classes, the teaching, the clubs, the research help, the links within and without the school community all these things are missing when a school perceives the library as a “room with books in” rather than a service.
I hope that when come back from parental leave I will be able to step straight back into my role with very little disruption – which is what any teaching professional in similar circumstances, or indeed an MP, would also expect.

Posted in Advocacy, School Libraries | Tagged , | Leave a comment