5 things you should know about School Library Services :: NEWS
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5 things you should know about School Library Services

10 February 2022 Share

Schools Library Services (SLSs) across the country exist to help schools. In this new blog series we uncover more around how SLS's can support teachers and library staff, starting with Val Sawyer, Principal Librarian at Nottinghamshire's Education Library Service.

1 Resources

Schools can borrow books to support the curriculum and reading for pleasure to boost classroom collections and the school library. This enables school customers to have a wider range of books available in their schools than they could buy themselves, offering pupils a much greater choice. (For example, in Nottinghamshire, we have a book stock of over 300,000 items for schools to loan.) With the wide range of materials, supporting the primary sector and many secondary schools and sixth forms too, SLSs’ resources meet the needs and abilities of all pupils. SLSs make up collections tailored specifically to each class or school’s needs. As well as books in a variety of formats, some SLSs may also include artefacts and costumes in their collections.

2 Expertise 

Our professional librarians possess specialist knowledge of children’s books, the curriculum, school libraries and children’s publishing output and trends.  We advise on specific books for specific aspects of the curriculum or a pupil’s individual needs. We can advise schools and provide support and training on managing and developing their own school libraries, helping to teach information literacy skills to enable children to become independent learners and to help schools create a reading culture.

Similarly, we can visit schools to talk to pupils and enthuse them about books, getting them excited about reading, and can provide the titles for school to borrow too. Some SLS’, for example Leicestershire, also offer sessions for pupils such as creative writing and poetry.

3 Save time 

We save school staff time by choosing project collections for you and delivering these direct to school, alternatively school staff can come and choose from the library where librarians are on hand to help. We can suggest specific titles to link the curriculum topic suitable to the age and ability of the pupils. Some SLSs have a mobile library which can visit your school, so children can have the joy of choosing the books they would specifically like to read.

4 Cost effective 

We provide resources at a fraction of the cost than if schools buy their own books.  Swapping resources ensures the book stock is kept fresh and maintains pupils’ interest, whilst considering new titles or trends, as well as ensuring you have the books in school at the time you need them.  In Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, schools can buy into unlimited exchanges which enables schools to swap books as often as you like, at no additional charge.  So, the more often a school swaps books the better value for money they receive.  Most SLSs will have something similar.   If one of our books gets damaged or lost then we ask schools to let us know and, depending on the numbers involved and frequency, we may replace free of charge.  

5 Book awards and book lists 

Most SLSs have a local book award to highlight reading for pleasure and to showcase new titles, enabling schools to keep up to date with new books. These may be for primary or secondary pupils.  Author visits may be included to encourage a real buzz for reading and enable schools to develop book groups and initiate some chatting about books among your pupils.  SLSs produce book lists on a variety of themes including ethnic diversity and wellbeing. For example, see Nottinghamshire’s termly Best Fiction lists at https://www.inspireculture.org.uk/services-schools/els/what-we-offer/best-fiction-lists/  These are free for anyone to use.  Some SLSs are on social media, such as Twitter, and will post about the new book titles enabling school staff to keep up to date with the latest releases (Nottinghamshire's is @InspireELS).

Find out more

SLSs do not receive central funding and operate as a full cost recovery business; so schools need to buy into their local service to borrow books and take advantage of their other services.  

To find your local SLS you can search the SLA website at https://www.sla.org.uk/school-library-services Alternatively, you can use the SLS_UK website at https://sls-uk.org/uk-sls/ to find out more about School Library Services and how they can help your school.

If you work in a Schools' Library Service and would like to contribute a blog to showcase something you do please get in touch at info@sla.org.uk.