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CEO Blog 2019 10: Scottish Takeover: Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools

11 November 2019 Share

It's a CEO takeover! Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Library and Information Council talks about her work on behalf of Scottish school libraries

This month I am delighted to be handing my CEO blog over to Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Library and Information Council, to talk about her work on behalf of Scottish school libraries. 

 

Scotland published its first national strategy for School Libraries – Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools:  a National Strategy for School Libraries in Scotland 2018-2023 https://scottishlibraries.org/media/2110/vibrant-libraries-thriving-schools.pdf, in September 2018.  Just over a year later, it is highly encouraging to see a high level of engagement with the education sector and school library community.

Through the School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF), set-up to support implementation of the strategy, school libraries have received £550,000 to deliver creative and innovative projects, and a further £450,000 funding round is currently open for bids. Interestingly, around £200,000 has been awarded to projects focused on health and wellbeing, demonstrating how school libraries are perceived to be nurturing spaces for pupils. The range of projects that are benefiting from financial support also highlights the importance of different types of literacy; information, digital and health literacy are as valuable as reading, writing and numeracy in a modern world.

We know that models of school library provision vary between local authorities and rightly so. Services should be tailored to local community needs. Where consistency is needed most is equality of access.

There is a strong commitment to the role of libraries and librarians in Scotland, providing the foundations for a positive future for the school library sector and the contribution it makes to providing children with an equal start in life and supporting young people in their lifelong learning. 

Education Scotland has developed and launched a Professional Learning Community platform on the education network GLOW. This web-based service has pulled together all documents and information which may be of interest to people working in Scotland’s School Libraries. It was developed in partnership with school librarians and since its launch is engaging the school library community to ensure that it remains relevant and used. The Professional Learning Community also signposts to the SLIC School Libraries Basecamp site. The SLIC Basecamp site has over 150 members who are individuals who work in school libraries and want to network with other people carrying out similar roles. As we know School Librarians can very often be lone operators so having the opportunity to share experiences with people in a similar situation can be a great way to impart learning.

Through the development of Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools, the unique selling point for the school library was the support with Information Literacy, nowhere else in the school has the expertise or experience to deliver this activity. Yet the Advisory Group found School Librarians across Scotland developed their own resources, meaning that a considerable amount of time was being diverted to this research. One of the projects which SLIC is managing is the creation of an Information Literacy toolkit which will be web-based and available to all schools in Scotland to use to support pupils develop Information Literacy Skills.

In a highly significant move, influenced by the school library strategy, Education Scotland has added school libraries to the formal school inspection process. Sustainable and impactful changes like this will help ensure school library provision continues to improve and all children and young people have access to an excellent service. SLIC worked with School Librarians and other key stakeholders to develop a self assessment tool – How good is our school Library? https://scottishlibraries.org/media/2808/hgiosls-pdf.pdf 

This addition to the school inspection will ensure that headteachers involve the school library staff at an early stage to prepare for the HMIE visits.  This ensures that the school library is at the heart of the whole school offer.

From SLIC’s point of view,  the national strategy has enabled it to shine a light on the fabulous work which school libraries deliver on a daily basis. 

It’s still earlier days for Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools however the momentum behind a positive future for school libraries in Scotland has started to gain pace. The ambition for the implementation of the strategy is that it will re-position school libraries as being a central and core part of the whole school offer.