CILIP SLG National in collaboration with the London and South-East Group have recently run their second Pupil Librarian Training Day at the Elmgreen School with Librarians and students from 12 different schools.
The first activity of the day was varied and well-paced and focused on developing pupils’ customer service skills. All students were asked to evaluate and analyse some of the decisions that they have to make at the Library desk such as: What do you do when your friend wants you to favour her? How do you cope with disruptive students? Will you bend the rules to avoid a confrontation? Students were asked to consider their responses, and then vote for their choice of 3 possible answers to each question.
The programme of the day was also interspersed with ‘spot quiz’ questions that had students abuzz and keen for the fantastic book prizes available. One of the questions was particularly interesting because it asked to estimate the size of the largest book ever made. With dimensions close to 5m x 8m, it is called ‘This is Muhammed’, was made in Dubai, and is a compilation of stories highlighting the lifetime achievements of Islam’s Prophet.
Some of the schools contributed to the Library Showcase and the feedback from students and librarians has been overwhelmingly positive with a lot of ideas for competitions, clubs and events shared. Other activities also included the creation of a promotional poster for a new book with an audience vote during lunchtime.
The highlight of the day was an energetic presentation by the newly published Children’s author Abi Elphinstone, who bounced across the stage telling us about her adventures. Writing may seem a long way from her childhood ambition to become a Unicorn, but Abi has been to some amazing places, and collected all sorts of tales, names, traditions and myths which are woven into her stories. We saw the objects that have inspired her – the ankle bone of a sheep is a memorable one – they are used by children in Mongolia for a game, and Abi learned this when she stayed with Mongolian Eagle hunters.
Writers, she told us, have to live, because everything you see or do or learn about can become a part of your storytelling – “Our world is so magical, if we always look down at screens we miss so much of the magic.”
A major character in The Dream Snatcher is a wildcat and she spoke about how these critically endangered creatures are one of the few truly untameable beasts in the world. There is something thrilling about this quality of wildness, but you have to experience it, as Abi found when she visited a wolf sanctuary “If you hold a wolf, it’s like holding fierceness…and if I write a story about a wolf I’ll know now.”
Aspiring authors need two essential qualities: determination, and imagination. Abi tried for 7 years before a publisher accepted her writing, and she collected 96 rejection letters. Keep going, she says, fail lots, but keep going!
After such a successful day, CILIP School Libraries Group for London and the South East and the National Group intend to make this event a stable of our annual provision so keep an eye for next year event!