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SLYA Citation for Barbara Band

BARBARA BAND

Emmbrook is a specialist school for Maths and Computing with 1200 on roll in vertical tutor groups with children from 24 feeder primaries. The area is quite affluent, with supportive parents, although the school includes a percentage of students from less well off backgrounds. The school is challenged for space, which is becoming an increasing problem as the roll increases. Equally threatening is frequent flooding.

The Library is on the ground floor, opening directly from an external path that links the teaching and admin blocks. Barbara planned a layout to maximize the space and create a welcoming atmosphere for both study and leisure reading, with a block of study tables, enough for whole class lessons, some soft seating and a small adjacent 6th form study room. There are 6 PCs for general use as laptops are used for whole classes. One PC is dedicated to OPAC searches with a paper subject index using simplified Dewey.

Barbara’s whole focus is to create a welcoming atmosphere for all users hence there are minimal rules, relying instead on mutual trust and respect. This has succeeded, with careful use of display, some quirky and eye catching. As Barbara has no other support staff she relies heavily on the 16 pupil librarians for day-to-day routines. New members of the team mostly from Years 9/10 are appointed in the summer term and trained using the SLA guidelines.

When the library was flooded in 2007 all stock on lower shelves was lost and other material went too. Since then much has been replaced, there are now 10,000 items in the catalogue, with Barbara hoping to add a further 6,000 in line with guidelines; there is an excellent fiction stock and a good selection of newspapers and magazines.

Barbara is representative governor on the Curriculum Committee, which puts her in a good place to support the teaching staff. She has full support of the SMT who appear to endorse all her many initiatives. Lessons in the Library are taught mainly by Barbara working closely with teachers to support lesson objectives and using lessons to reinforce research skills taught in Year 7.

Emmbrook draws from too many primary schools to do much transition work but she does do some with nearby Emmbrook Junior School. Years 7 and 12 have library inductions as do new staff, NQTs and student teachers on placement.

Reading promotion includes Carnegie shadowing, Berkshire Book Award, Summer Reading Challenge, an informal reading group for 6th form and focused library displays and author visits. Barbara is a school governor, representing support staff and is very active professionally, being a past chair of the SLA branch in Berkshire and currently a committee member for the London group of SLG.

Barbara was nominated by two pupils who were very positive about her, one said through being a pupil librarian he had "learnt things about himself" and both students felt the experience would be a valuable inclusion in future CVs. They both were very complimentary about Mrs Band: "It’s a formal relationship but we think of her as a big friend".

Barbara’s Head Teacher said he valued her input and used her to check facts on relevant breaking news. He said "She is fantastic at information gathering… puts it in a way I like – brevity". Other staff praised her for being "an amazing person" and "refreshingly different"; one was very complimentary about Barbara’s up to date book knowledge, another was amazed to see kids in the library that you didn’t see anywhere else proving that Barbara’s "can-do" philosophy boosted self-esteem: "She’s just wonderful: in 27 years of teaching I’ve never met anyone quite like her!"

Barbara’s energy and enthusiasm is breathtaking and her pupil-librarians impressed us. Reading promotion is key to her work including working with groups of 15 students so that she can take them out on trips. Staff and students all really value Barbara and the library.

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