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Alison Kennedy

Honour Librarian Profile

SLA School Librarian of the Year Award 2018: Honour Librarian Profile

 Alison Kennedy
 St George's Ascot

Alison Kennedy

Alison Kennedy is Head Librarian at St George's Ascot, an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11-18 in Berkshire. As Head of House, form tutor and living on site, Alison is truly embedded in her school, and is particularly passionate about the pastoral side of her work, which reaches far beyond the bookshelves of her library.

Following a degree in Marketing and Italian Alison completed an MSc in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde. She has worked at St George's Ascot since 2015 and within just a year of arriving she had demonstrated the impact of her work with a 30% increase in book borrowing across the school. Her library is a recent build and following an early focus on creating the best possible physical space, Alison is now working enthusiastically to promote the wide range of support the library offers across the entire school.

Alison's work is both creative and collaborative; she liaises closely with other departments, for example by providing regular subject specific updates to staff explaining what the Library can do to support teaching in all areas of the curriculum. As the school's EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) co-ordinator she manages a team of supervisory teaching staff, leading on EPQ moderation, and facilitates the acquisition of relevant and timely information skills by pupils through sessions on issues such as fake news and plagiarism. These sessions are delivered with flair and a sense of fun, such as her development of a Murder Mystery based in the library that could only be solved by developing research skills. Her skill and interest in technology mean Alison is a key member of the small team driving forward the school's new VLE. Another area where Alison has done transformational work is with students for whom English is an additional language.

Promoting Reading for Pleasure has taken many forms in Alison's library, from opening the library to boarders for an out-of-hours Harry Potter celebration, to developing a Book Fairies Treasure Hunt to encourage excitement as pupils solve clues to find new books. Poetry reading events, golden snitch hunts, theatre productions, and even a Human Books event have all taken place in the library, ensuring it is seen as a hive of energy and imagination.

Kennedy Library

Alison makes extensive and engaging use of social media (in particular Twitter and Instagram) which she uses to promote new resources, events and share items of interest, for example, the displays created by her Library Assistants. Alison's championing of social media has been particularly praised by her Headmistress, and her work has been described as "energetic, outstanding and creative. She [Alison] picks up on ideas and goes with them."

As Treasurer of the Berkshire Book Award and a committee member of the Central & East Berkshire branch of the SLA Alison's librarian skills take her beyond the walls of her school. A passionate believer that every school should have its own library and librarian, Alison is keen to support and promote those working in school librarianship; she is aware that at times being a school librarian can be an isolated position and believes making contacts with librarians in other schools is vital.

An enthusiastic, knowledgeable and proactive professional who takes pride in her work, Alison's role is very much more than 'just' that of the librarian; her residential and pastoral roles add great value to the sense of the library and librarian as a friendly, welcoming space to everyone. Of herself she says, "I'm not changing the world but if just one student starts reading for pleasure, finds that bit of information they really need or feels emotionally supported because of me then I will be delighted."

You can get a further flavour of Alison's work on Twitter and Instagram:
[at]SGA_library