Great School Libraries Phase 2, By Caroline Roche, Chair of SLG and of Great School Libraries

After a packed two days of back to back meetings in half term – one Chairing Great School Libraries and one Chairing the School Libraries Group, I am writing to tell you about some exciting developments in the GSL Campaign, and how you can all help.

The Campaign has now launched Phase 2, after the successful Phase 1 which saw the ground breaking survey of school libraries. In Phase 2, we are looking at deepening our political involvement further. You will need to go to the Great School Libraries blog post to see this discussed in more detail, but we have one main and two secondary aims for the second half of this Campaign.

Our main aim with the remaining time that we have as a Great School Libraries Campaign team is to lobby the Government to get the document ‘ Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools’ adopted by Government for the other nations in the UK.  With representatives from Scotland and Wales on our group we are all feeling really excited about it.  We are still looking for a school librarian from Northern Ireland to join us – could that be you?  Please get in touch for further details if so.

The secondary themes are equally as important, and members of the SLG Committee will be working on these alongside GSL team members.  This is facilitated by the fact that the two Vice Chairs of the GSL Campaign – Barbara Band and Elizabeth Hutchinson – are also on the SLG Committee.

Our first strand, led by Elizabeth Hutchinson, is around the theme of Information Literacy, which we call ‘Approach to learning through Inquiry’ to encompass all of the literacies and Critical Thinking.  This group will have a particular focus on both highlighting FOSIL as a standard of good practice, and also doing more work around the sixth form end of FOSIL in order to align ourselves more closely with our colleagues in HE.  We would like our students to have a seamless transition to FE and HE, with the same language and terms being used by both.

Our second strand, led by Barbara Band, is all about Wellbeing.  This encompasses all areas of wellbeing – mental health, diversity, LGBT+ and everything around the whole child.  We all, as librarians, know that a lot of work by us is done in this area.  We all talk about how libraries are safe havens for so many children.  But this is a hidden aspect of our work – often hidden from others in our schools.  We need to bring this out into the open more because if school libraries disappear, what will these students do?  Who will show them that there are others just like them in books, if not us?  What we would like you all to do is to consider writing case studies for GSL along the lines of how maybe a particular display or event around LGBT+ or Diversity resulted in a section of your school feeling that they were now ‘seen’.  How perhaps an intervention by you had a significant effect on a student’s mental health, or how you have a group of ‘on the spectrum’ students who use the library every day to perhaps play games in a safe space?  If so, please contact Barbara Band (barbara567band@hotmail.com ) who will send you a template and walk you through how to do this, if necessary.  The more evidence we collect about how school libraries are safe spaces, the better.

In addition, the SLG team is working on a new Book Pack to be launched soon called Girl Power, and  another fantastically fun one called Kick Ass Librarians to be launched at Conference.  We have Training Days to be announced as well.  If you can host one of our training days in your school for free, you will get a free place.  We will do all the hard work for you, handling bookings and speakers.  All you will need to do is turn up!  Contact me at chair.slg@cilip.org.uk  for more details.

And finally – please follow us on social media, it makes a huge difference to our reach and visibility.  Find us on Twitter:  @CILIPSLG, on Instagram CILIPSLG and our CILIPSLG Facebook page which we would love you to ‘like’ and share.

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