Providing Excellent Library Provision

logo2By Alison Tarrant, MCLIP, MSc Econ Honour List Librarian, School Librarian of the Year Award 2016

Cambourne Village College is in its fourth year. We opened in September 2013 with a single year group, and have been building up year by year. Starting from scratch really enabled those running the school to think about what was needed – and a school library was definitely part of the plan. I was appointed as Librarian in the Easter term of 2013, which allowed me to plan an excellent library service.

Among some there is a misconception that the library is just a room full of books, and the Librarian someone who stamps them. Though the most visible aspect of the job, this is not excellent library service, and definitely doesn’t reflect the role of Librarian. At the core of excellent school library provision are two things: Information Literacy and Reading Development. These provide the fundamental helix which enables everything else.


Information Literacy

Information Literacy (IL) is the ability to find, use and communicate information in an ethical manner,(1) and is often widened to include research skills – such as note taking and evaluating outcomes. It is teaching pupils the skills they need to maximise the opportunities the internet provides, while exercising criticism. As Librarian, I create worksheets that guide students through the research process we use. (2)  I introduce this to all Year 7 classes at the start of the school year, and recap with other years as necessary. I lead sessions to introduce specific skills when required. I collaborate with teachers to provide resources that provide scaffolding for students, while allowing them freedom, and I produce videos that guide students through resources or skills as reminders for homework. I create Research Starter booklets for any topics where it is harder to find information at the right level – using short excerpts from higher level texts allows students access to the information without its being overwhelming. This creates a platform from which students can conduct their own research; once they have a foundation of knowledge they can access other information more easily, both in terms of understanding (3) and validity.

Reading Development

The Library stands astride a difficult gulf – supporting reading for pleasure while simultaneously ensuring pupils are progressing in their reading skills. Those who literally cannot read will probably fall under an intervention department, but there are plenty of students who fill the spectrum between ‘able to read’ and ‘fully fluent independent reader’. (4)  At the most basic level, the Librarian’s job is to make this development easier by encouraging students to read, by connecting books (including e-books) and readers. Calling this ‘basic’ is not to underestimate its importance. There are pupils in CamVC who only read now because two years ago they found a book they loved – this can have long-lasting and potentially life-changing impact. Not all students will want to read, and I take a further step in trying to identify these students. ‘Attitude to Reading’ surveys given at the beginning of the year help us recognise those ‘reluctant readers’, while comparing the results to their reading ability allows us to identify different groups (‘can but won’t’; ‘can’t but will’ etc). This leads to intervention interviews with the students in question: What is it that is preventing this child from wanting to read? Is it a family matter? A self-consciousness? Do they struggle with idioms and contexts? Are they simply not used to it? It is only by talking to the students that we can get to the core of the issue and start to target the cause, rather than the symptoms. Of course we will not be successful with everyone, but sometimes having the conversation is more important than the outcome – the fact that someone cares can make a difference to a child.

Reading is important – it provides opportunities to experience someone else’s life decisions, and unveils the wider world in all its complexity, helping students understand themselves and each other better – and I am here to discuss this all with them. “Miss, what’s a hermaphrodite?”; “What do you think about the death penalty?”; “Why does this book have rude words in?” The journey of discovery is not complete without someone they can turn to and ask the questions that have been raised in their minds. The Librarian extends learning and guides curiosity – “Ah, you liked that one? Try this,” or places a book in the hands of someone who needs it (a book with an LGBTQ character for someone who is questioning their sexuality perhaps) because they will not ask for it, but it might be the most important book they will ever read.


For the first two years, the focus was on embedding the double helix – setting up the Patron of Reading scheme and ensuring library lessons were fully utilised with an activity to develop reading skills in each session. At the same time the library started to develop an atmosphere – warm, inviting and engaging. Each school library represents a school in the same way the daemons in Philip Pullman’s ‘The Northern Lights’ represent each character’s personality, and the library was starting to capture the best of the staff and school surrounding it. In the early days the library was empty, with far too few books (building the collection year by year is the only way that makes sense – allowing that flexibility to respond to changing curricula and students) and yet now the shelves are overflowing. We now have e-book lending set up and a few different e-resources to help students with their research. For us it is a combination of formats and information – not one versus the other. Books, e-books and the internet are all tools that are useful in different ways and for different things; part of my job is ensuring the students can select the appropriate one and use it to its full advantage.

The role of Librarian has developed as well, from the days of cataloguing and setting up the Library management system, whereas now it is more focused on the library being a whole school resource – including contributing to teaching. I am uniquely placed in having an overall view of what is being taught and when, so I created a curriculum map. Compiling this information is invaluable for realising opportunities for collaboration between teachers, and showing progression of knowledge. It gives me an opportunity to make sure my resources are up to date, and that any opportunities for research skills or reading lists are utilised. My knowledge of what is going on within the school makes teamwork with colleagues easier, and creates opportunities for collaboration between different members of staff. For some Librarians, using this knowledge means they can develop additional learning opportunities – whether this be through interactive videos, creative projects, or any other talents your Librarian has.

I contribute to the school at a strategic level. Attending Middle Leader meetings means I know the pressures and deadlines that exist within the school and enables me to provide assistance and contribute, for example, with suggestions for the school’s development plan. Given the central role the library plays in school life, this 360 degree view allows me to make sure the library is aligned with the school’s aims over the next year or so. Access to the development plan is essential for any library which functions as a department within the school, and ensures that the school is getting the most from its investment. It answers the fundamental question: Where is the library contributing to the school’s aims? My Library’s development plan is broad. It covers reading ages, inclusion, staff CPD, working with feeder primaries – and these are marked off against the annual report, showing the impact and value of the library and librarian.

It is only through being respected as a professional (5) in my own right that this excellent library service has been achieved. I am incredibly well supported by the Senior Leaders, with a sensible budget and access to CPD. (6) As the Library has developed, the role of a Library Assistant has become a necessity, and we are planning a long-term vision for library provision, laying out the core aims and priorities of the library. There are very few definite things in education, but research has shown that libraries that have this support, impact on student outcomes (7) regardless of economic status. Providing an excellent library service is far more than stamping books: it is varied, important and has a positive impact on both staff and students.

[1] Learning Resources in Schools, Library Association Guidelines for School Libraries (1992).
[3] Hirsch, E.D. ‘Why Knowledge Matters’, Harvard Education Press, 2016. P.83
[4] For more information on the different stages of reading CLPE have created a brilliant diagram that explains the fluid stages:
[5] I am a Chartered Librarian, and as a member of CILIP I adhere to the code of professional practice. For more information on chartering for librarians see:
[6] The School Library Association runs brilliant courses:

As first published in Leading Change – The journal of the Leading Edge network.


Posted in Leadership, Libraries, Library Skills, Reading for Pleasure, School Libraries, Teaching and Learning | Leave a comment

Reading Rocks event, October 2016

From time to time, SLG is asked to send representatives to different events around the country to speak or to set up a stand.  This involved us getting involved with a stand in the ATL Conference earlier in the year, being represented and giving a talk to a Headteachers’ Teachmeet in the summer, and the Reading Rocks event this autumn.  Lucy Chambers from the committee attended this event, and wrote her report for us.  Every meeting we attend is a chance for us to interact with people we wouldn’t normally reach, and to spread the word about the great things school libraries are doing.

Lucy writes: ‘I attended the first one day Reading Rocks 2016 conference, established to ‘discuss ways to make reading rock for every pupil.’  near Warrington, to deliver a workshop on behalf of SLG.  This was an opportunity to speak at an event aimed at teachers rather than just librarians and is something the committee has been discussing for some time: how to cross the invisible barrier and promote the impact librarians can have on a school to educationalists.

The District CE Primary School in Newton-le-Willows has won awards for its approach to reading and has many inspirational reading areas, from several small libraries within the school to a Story Shack, a book-themed playground and a Little Library of books for parents.   They promote reading with stylish and interactive displays and regular reading events throughout the year.

My role was to advocate the value of school librarians, in this case in primary schools, and to promote SLG.  I also spoke about how I use regular Reading Year events to get children reading in my four schools in Tower Hamlets.  The day was devoted to literacy sessions of interest to primary school teachers, with several authors and promoters of reading schemes. Keynote speakers included James Clements, the founder of Shakespeare and More, who works with schools to develop the teaching of reading, and Mat Tobin, Senior Lecturer in English and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes’ School of Education, talking about the hidden messages in picture books , including a thought-provoking interpretation of ‘Not Now Bernard’, elicited with discussion from Year 1 to Year 6 pupils.

Workshops ranged from sessions promoting First News, Phoenix and other magazines to a project using rhythm and music to improve reading comprehension in low ability children. Other workshops included storyteller Dan Worsely, Into Film, Mat Tobin, Jonny Duddle and Nikki Heath.

Altogether, it was a very impressive event with some excellent speakers, a great range of exhibitors and an ambitious programme.  If you are a primary school librarian or teacher, look out for Reading Rocks 2017 and sign up!’

See the school’s website for further information


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SLG Regional Conference: Oakham School

Julie Angel, Assistant Librarian at Eltham College, attended our conference at Oakham School on November 1st 2016, and sent us her report of the day:

The SLG Regional Conference was held at Oakham School and hosted by Darryl Toerien, Head of Library and Information Services at the school.

The first speaker the day was David Harrow, the Academic Deputy Head, who talked about how the school library was at the centre of teaching and learning and the impact it had on students and their outcomes Post 18. Backed by research and the statistics that generated, I think we all felt valued and appreciated as our hard work and input does genuinely make a difference.  He told the group: “… even when the aims of the curriculum are considered in this most utilitarian fashion, properly staffed and resourced libraries are highly successful in developing the required qualities and outcomes. However, the progressive interpretation, where the aim is for students to acquire both knowledge and mastery of the processes of learning more for themselves, as well as engendering ongoing wellbeing, is also dramatically evidenced by the same studies as being strongly supported by libraries. The place of the school library at the centre of teaching and learning can, therefore, be established beyond doubt.” This is a strong statement in support of libraries, echoing the supportive statement from the deputy head in the previous report from the Regional Conference at Eltham College.

Next was Karen Benoy, Librarian from The Thomas Alleyne Academy, who shared with us her experience of using data to track reading in KS3. She is a very strong advocate of not only collecting the data, but then using it in planning and organising the strategies to raise reading levels and how this can lead to the rise in achievement across the curriculum. Using effective intervention, personal to the pupils, Karen showed how her initiative has led to improved results in reading for the pupils in her school.

Clare Scothern from Trent College followed with her account of the ‘Read to Succeed’ week she held in school last year. Clare told of the experience in a very honest way, highlighting the successes of the week but also the negatives and her reflection on how she would change things next time. This was reassuring to hear that with even the best laid plans sometimes things do not always go the way we anticipated!

Our host was the next to speak on the subject of ‘Curriculum Mapping’ and its importance in the daily running of the library. Darryl spoke of the significance of working with Heads of Departments and looking at their schemes of work to ensure the pupils had access to resources that would not only support their studies but also to extend their knowledge of the subject in question. It is very evident he is passionate about this aspect of his role and how he can create cross-curricular themes giving teaching staff an insight into how colleagues are helping students to get the best possible outcomes.

Before lunch Sheila Compton, from the SLG National Committee gave us a news update on where the group in now, how she would like to see it develop and how we can play a part in the group. From her presentation it is clear the SLG within CILIP is a very active sub-group offering support and guidance to school librarians across the country.

During lunch there was time to discuss the morning’s topics with colleagues both old and new whilst browsing in the school library. We then were given access to the school’s online resources where we could look at what is on offer for those who were less familiar with these materials.

Once back in the auditorium it was the turn of Sophie Fisher from Stephen Perse Foundation, Cambridge to deliver a session on the ‘Diversity in Picture Books’. Sophie brought with her a range of resources for us to look at and digest whilst also giving a plethora of information on the subject of diversity in books in general. This led to a group discussion on how we each promote these books within our own libraries with many ideas being voiced.

Our penultimate session was delivered by the Assistant Librarian at The Leys in Cambridge. Lyndsey Goddard gave a humorous but very observational insight into changing sectors within the profession. Her tales of being an academic librarian in a university and the transition into schools had us all laughing out loud at the experiences she has had in both. A second career may be in the pipeline!

To end a superb day of CPD, Allison Tarrant from Cambourne Village College gave us food for thought while presenting ‘Assessing the impact of an information literacy programme.’ Questionnaires for Y9 on their understanding of IL, as well as having a logo on work to prompt students to understand that research is required, are just a couple of ways Allison assesses and promotes the lifelong IL skills needed in today’s educational climate.

May I take this opportunity to thank Darryl and Oakham School for their hospitality and allowing us to meet in such a wonderful venue. I certainly learnt a lot from the day and talking to other delegates during my time there, they too found the day highly thought provoking and as always the chance to share good practice is invaluable to us all.

Posted in Regional Training Days, School Libraries, Training and CPD | 1 Comment

SLG Regional Event in Kent/SE London

CILIPSLG held one of its very successful Regional Training Days at Eltham College in South East London on October 24th.  The day was heavily over-subscribed, and there are plans to rerun the day next March for all those who were disappointed this time.  Like all of the training days, there was an eclectic mix of subjects, and everyone found something to interest them in the day.

The first speaker was Caroline Roche, who also hosted us in her Library at Eltham College.  Caroline also runs Heart of the School website. She talked about using technology to help the learners in your school, and EPQ students in particular.  She showcased Diigo, MySimpleShow and Animoto, and gave out practical How To worksheets after her talk.

Next came Matt Imrie from Farrington’s School.  Matt runs the very successful Teen Librarian newsletter and website.  Matt talked to us about Freenocomics – how to get stuff for your library for free, and how to encourage your students to blog about books.

Last speaker before lunch was Maggie Thomas from Bacon’s College.  Maggie told us about a radical refurbishment of her library which involved her in strategic thinking and planning, including a review of how she should be line managed.  She had amazing support from her Line Manager throughout the successful process.

During lunch there was a great opportunity to network, and also to play the newly published Murder in the Library from BoxClever Education.  Alex Gillespie, an English teacher who devised the game, set it out in Eltham College Library, and we were all encouraged to find out who had murdered the Library Assistant!  This was an excellent game involving deductive thinking and reasoning skills.  There are many levels to the game, and is suitable for all abilities.  Everyone enjoyed it and quite a few people bought copies for their libraries.

In the afternoon Rowena Seabrook from Amnesty International spoke to us about Human Rights issues in Teen Fiction.  Her talk was thought provoking, both in how to promote and how to protect human rights of the students in the school.  There was a lot of productive discussion around LGBTQ rights and fiction, and also representation of teenagers of all races and colours in your library stock.  We all had a lot to think about after her talk.

CILIPSLG tweeted throughout the day, and a Storify of the tweets can be found here.

CILIPSLG Regional events are held throughout the year in different parts of the country.  If you are interested in attending one of our low cost events then keep an eye on this page.  If you are interested in hosting a meeting in your school, please contact SLG through their pages on the CILIP website.



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Good news!

Good news!  The London and South East group have allowed the CILIPSLG National Committee to also add resources to this site, so from now on you will be able to hear about news and events from all over the country.  Thanks to London and South East for allowing us to widen the scope of their already brilliant blog!

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Libraries and Leadership: understanding value with the CILIP Impact Toolkit

For my CILIP Leadership programme, I have been asked to use the first section of the CILIP Impact Toolkit which looks at understanding value so I have focused the task on determining the core purpose of my new school library.


What is the core purpose of a school library?

I have very recently starting a new job at a new school and that has given me the opportunity to really explore some of the tools in the Impact Toolkit.


My new school is planning a big library refurbishment for June 2017 so I have been asked to put together a detailed brief for the architect and design company which will take the project on. It is quite an exciting opportunity but I realised from the beginning that I would have to start thoroughly researching for this project as my experience includes only small refurbishments so far. Furthermore, the decision to hire a new library was driven by the early retirement of the previous librarian who had been at her post for twenty years and had run the library in a more old-fashioned way.


It was very clear that the refurbishment has created the perfect opportunity to also re-assess the whole service, starting from identifying our Core Purpose, namely the reason of being for a library. I have never come across the concept of core purpose before and it has been an extremely interesting process to research about this subject and realise how important it is to clarify what it is and how it relates to understanding the value of what we do and consequently communicating it to all our stakeholders.


The core purpose of our service is the fundamental reason why our library/service exists, it needs to stay unchanged during the years and it is distinct from the mission statement but also linked to it. I found that asking the right questions would focus the process in the right direction. Why we are unique within the school? What is the difference between the library and the English Department, for example? What are the activities and what is the service that we can provide and that nobody else can? In an information-rich world, why do we exist? All these questions underpin the most important one: why is it really worth supporting our library and keep investing in its development and the skills of the librarians?


I have been reading a number of articles and I have found that literature aimed at the business sector was particularly relevant and useful. I have also had the opportunity to contact a very experience librarian at another school which has a similar demographic and type of school: she also did an exercise similar to mine for the occasion of a big library re-structuring and try with her team to identify the core purpose of the libraries she was managing. At this stage, I was reassured by the fact that it is not as straightforward as one may think and it is definitely a process which requires a lot of analysis and critical-thinking of what we do and why we do it.


The last half-term gave me the opportunity to study our school for evaluative purposes and put together a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats): communicating the value of the expertise of our Library Team was identified as a top priority and conversely the way our most influencial stakeholders perceive the impact of our expertise as a possible major threat. In a school where every student has millions and millions of data of information in the palm of their hands, where a teacher can easily use a classroom to access information and where the library is just a well-sued space without a service to support this, our major threat in the future is fighting the obvious conclusion that you do not need two qualified librarians – with salaries to much- to run the space. Unfortunately, this is happening in many school libraries across the country and it is based on the fact that we are not effectively communicating to our stakeholders the difference between expertise (the librarian) and the space (the library).


So, what is our core purpose and how do we prepare for the battle ahead?

At the end, reading an article written by the Marketing Director of Sky help us going in the right direction by drawing our attention to the three pillars of this company: Content, Technology, Service. Everything that the Marketing Department creates must ultimately reverts back to these three pillars. Taking inspiration from this, an intense brainstorming session has resulted in our four pillars – one of my team members has pointed out that a four-pillared structure is sturdier than a three-pillared one!




Content: selection, access, teaching, promotion

Innovation: making everything easier, faster and smarter

Creativity: what we do ultimately aims to nurture the creative mind and the creation of new knowledge (the peak of Marlow’s pyramid)

Service: the needs of every individual in our school community are at the heart of our service


This is still an incomplete set because we are still discussing whether “learning” or “partnership” should also appear. However, having our four pillars clear in our minds at all times will have a multitude of benefits. Firstly, the library vision, mission statement and objectives will always refer and revert back to these, any evaluation process will be conducted through these four lenses and ensure that we are always consistent and focused. Most importantly, it will be easier in the future to keep our team motivated and confident in a time of big changes in the educational sector and communicate our impact more effectively to our school community.

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How to write an alternative book review

Book review model of Regeneration by Pat Barker

What I liked

I like the fact that it explored a different aspect of the First World War to other books that I have read, and what happened to some of the soldiers who suffered from shell shock. Although the book mentions, quite vividly, the reasons why the soldiers were in the hospital, shocking stories of terrible things that had happened to them, it didn’t dwell on the fighting. I also liked the fact that real people and fiction were interwoven and Pat Barker obviously did a lot of research to write the book. The exploration of Siegfried Sassoon’s protest about the war and how they ‘dealt’ with him was very interesting.


What I did not like

There wasn’t anything in particular that I didn’t like about the actual book but didn’t like some of the attitudes of the army hierarchy towards the soldiers in the hospital and their “return to the front”. But that was how it was at the time, a time with very different attitudes to ours today. It must have been difficult to decide who is genuinely suffering but I also empathise with those who just wanted to escape the horrors of the war.


What surprised me

Near the end of the book William Rivers, the psychiatrist, visits another hospital and witnesses the medical treatment given to a mute patient. In comparison to Rivers’ treatment of his patients it seemed barbaric, virtually torture. I was surprised that this sort of treatment occurred, but it was interesting to see the different approaches of the two doctors.


What I learned

The different ways post-traumatic stress disorder manifests itself in the people suffering from it. Although I was aware of shell shock and some of the effects on the people with it, the book really brought home to me just how terrible and devastating it can be and how difficult it was to treat the soldiers with it. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to confirm a soldier’s recovery knowing they would be sent back to the front. All too often we think about the men who were killed but not so much about the terrible and often long lasting effects the war had on those who fought.


What I wished would have happened

For something nice to happen in the life of the main character William Rivers. He was so busy with his patients he didn’t seem to have much time for a life of his own and consequently had health issues of his own.

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SLG National Conference – Making the most of World Book Day and other national reading initiatives

Amanda Ball an myself have recently lead a seminar on how to run a successful World Book Day and other reading initiatives. During the session we explored the value in participating in an established National event but we also highlighted some of the most common challenges, some useful tools for evaluation and analysis after an event and finally we discussed practical solutions based on successful case-studies.

You can find below a copy of the presentation used during  the seminar as well and some of the handouts.

Making the Most Of World Book Day and

Evaluation tool – SWOT analysis

Library Ideas for Awareness Days and Reading initiatives calendar

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Carnegie 2016: Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

It’s something of a cliché to start a review like this, but among writers of fiction for children and “young adults”, Marcus Sedgwick is genuinely unique. His cold, oddly distant tone gave his early novels a distinctive feel even as they used essentially familiar story-structures, but his recent work has moved even further away from convention, embracing the kind of abstract, non-linear styles that are rarely found in fiction aimed at a younger audience.

Ghosts Of Heaven is similar to his own Midwinterblood in structure, being composed of distinct stories linked by a single theme, but the connection here is looser and more deliberately abstract. A short, non-fiction introduction in Sedgwick’s own voice gives a brief explanation of the events following the big-bang, describing the formation of our solar system as describing a spiral pattern. Sedgwick then introduces four short stories linked by the spiral theme, explaining that they can be read in any combination in order to create different effects.

The stories themselves cover different times and themes, and are as confident and engagingly awkward as we’ve come to expect from Sedgewick. A narrative poem about a young girl from a pre-historic tribe making a discovery with profound future implications; another girl much later is accused of witchcraft by a village who fears and envies her; a psychiatrist starts a new job in a very unusual hospital in the early twentieth century; much later, the only conscious passenger on a faster-than-light colony ship carries out the slowest murder investigation in history. As with Midwinter Blood, recurring themes link the stories, but whereas in the earlier book a large number of themes are used to array a mostly linear narrative, here things are more abstract – the symbolism is pared down to mostly just the constantly-repeating motif of the spiral, a pattern mirrored in the lack of straight narrative story.

The techniques Sedgewick uses here will be familiar to readers of less narrativist fiction, but are still quite unusual within the “young adult” market – the closest points of comparison being Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Alan Moore’s notoriously reader-unfriendly Voice Of The Fire, hardly references one normally comes across in fiction aimed at younger readers. Within the stories themselves there are some surprises too – the pure science fiction of the final story is unlike anything Sedgewick has put his name to previously, while the psychiatrist’s tale gets closer to capturing the genuine spirit of HP Lovecraft than most “adult” horror fiction with that intent manages. It’s not surprising that the weakest individual story – that of the witch – is also the most conventional and familiar, though its recurrence in the other stories goes some way to redeeming that.

The unorthodox structure of Ghosts Of Heaven will no doubt put off some younger readers, and some of those who stick with it will be frustrated by the lack of clear narrative or fixed conclusion, but more confident or precocious readers may well find that Sedgwick has given them access to a style of fiction not usually available to younger readers. A genuinely distinctive release from an author who continues to be one of the most interesting in his field’.

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How do you make a good case for your library?

We all have been there and experienced it: the utter frustration at seen a proposal for change or development turned down by your line-manager or the Headteacher. I have been at the receiving end of many refusals before I realised that something had to change in the way I was preparing my presentation. So the big question was: how can I be more persuasive next time? How can I sway the key stakeholders on my side?

This is how my personal campaign began…

In my research for a better way to change management, I have come across a number of useful resources that have made me see my problems from a different point of view or given me practical tips that I could apply in my workplace.

The first resource that has opened my eyes to other alternatives is definitely the book “The Library Marketing Toolkit” by Ned Potter (Facet Publishing). There is a fantastic website which acts as a companion to this book and which I urge to visit and explore: .

Proactive vs reactive.

The chapter that has absolutely revolutionised the way I think about tackling any obstacles in my way is the “Marketing and People” one: full of tips and case studies, it really made me realise how the ability to influence people had to become my constant priority, use the the power of Word of Mouth as well as regularly reaching and outreaching. Our colleagues as well as other stakeholders in our service, big or small, can become our champions in our campaign for change. They can assist you in establishing your professional reputation and they will probably be your biggest supporters in pushing your agenda. What I really learnt in applying these priorities is that you need to constantly nourish your support network and not seek to create one just when you most need it: this will probably not come organically and support may arrive too late!

Battle Plan.

When preparing to make a change or submit a proposal for a major re-development, one model is highly recommended to ensure that you are successful: the 5 case model. The five elements of this model ensure that you are really prepared for your upcoming battle: I find it easier to see every element as an extra arrow to my bow. This model includes: The Strategic Case, The Economic case, The Financial Case, The Commercial Case, The Management Case.

If all these elements are carefully considered, investigated and analysed, you not only considerably increase your confidence in delivering your proposal but you also prepare solid grounds for your proposal to be accepted more easily.

The Strategic Case

What is the strategic context of you proposal, namely why do you want to make this change? How does this change fit within the existing structure of your organisation, including goals & strategies, existing practices and resources? Does the change that you are proposing allow the organisation to exploit new opportunities or respond to new threats?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. A clear description of what is proposed and its fit with the business strategy
  2. The key objectives to be met and benefits to be realised
  3. Key performance indicators for those objectives
  4. A resource overview

 The Economic Case

How does your proposal deliver value for money? How does your recommendation/proposal clearly provide a return on investment? How does the option that you are proposing deliver better that the other options considered?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Critical assessment of the options considered, including cost-benefit analysis of each option: for example, a risk impact assessment of each option.
  2. A final recommendation based on a balance of cost, benefit and risk

 The Financial Case

How affordable is your proposal? How will it be funded and to what extent can your business/organisation afford it?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Total cost of your proposal
  2. Impact upon cash flow
  3. Source of funding
  4. Possible considerations regarding the business affordability gap. If this is the case, considerations about borrowing additional finances and at what rate.
  5. Analysis of the split between revenue and capital expenditure

 The Commercial Case

What is the commercial viability of your proposal? How will you source and ensure a steady and secure supply of the commercial elements of your proposal?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Identification and sources of the required internal and external resources
  2. How continuity of supply of those resources is to be maintained

 The Management Case

How will the proposal be project-managed to successful completion?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
  2. Delivery plan, including contingency plan, progress reporting and evaluation procedures



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