SLA School Librarian of the Year Award :: NEWS

SLA School Librarian of the Year Award

03 March 2021 Share

Honour Librarian: Kristabelle Williams

Kristabelle Williams is the Learning Resource Centre Manager at Addey & Stanhope School, a small, inner-city co-educational, comprehensive for Years 7-11. It is located in Deptford in the London borough of Lewisham.

The library is perfectly placed for high visibility in the centre of the ground floor, windows looking onto the entrance and around the ground floor corridor. The layout is guided by the resource sections and flexible student use; there are dedicated genre-based areas (as well as e-resources, e-book and audiobook collections), a comfy reading area, a class sized seating area and further moveable tables and chairs. A large display screen, a class set of laptops and several computers for library catalogue access complete the Resource Centre.

Kristabelle holds a Masters degree in Library and Information Studies from University College London and has recently enrolled to work towards Chartership. She is the only member of staff based in the LRC, but is supported in her work through the annual recruitment of approximately 10 student librarians.

Years 7, 8 and 9 have weekly/fortnightly reading classes, which Kristabelle supports with book talks, library skills and individual listening and discussion with students, scaffolded by the use of Accelerated Reader. Kristabelle supports Bookbuzz, a particularly popular student programme, by running book tasting "menus" or listening party "playlists" and in addition to a regular Book Club Kristabelle and her students take part in Book Pen Pals, whereby students correspond with authors. Further activities such as a Film Club, Lewisham Schools Book Quiz and taking part in book awards such as the Excelsior Award ensure vibrant, year-round library activity in addition to regular work with departmental staff on Science Week, Black History reading groups and author visits.

Kristabelle’s Manga Club has had a particularly positive impact on student engagement with the library. Book or character discussion is normally followed by a game or activity and checking out new books. In the words of one student: "I enjoy Manga Club because I can have fun with my friends and enjoy talking about the things we all love. It gives me a feeling that this school feels like home and makes me comfortable."

Regular consultation with students and staff, through questionnaires or focus groups, plays a crucial role in how library services are developed at the school. Other important sources of ideas for Kristabelle include the Lewisham School Librarians’ group, The School Librarians Network, The Secondary School Librarians Facebook Group and the Reading for Pleasure Facebook Group. Netgalley, Books for Keeps, the SLA & CILIP SLG’s Great School Libraries campaign case studies, BAMEed Network resources, Pride in Education online conferences and the CILIP Youth Library Group’s unconferences are also resources Kristabelle finds particularly valuable.

Covid-19 has inevitably changed how Kristabelle runs her library, but this has resulted in many unanticipated positive developments. For example, book deliveries to form rooms have created valuable opportunities for tutors to engage with and encourage their students’ reading, and use of Show My Homework to set weekly reading tasks, quizzes and book discussion has enabled Kristabelle to build rapport with some students she wouldn’t normally be able to reach. Copyright exemptions from publishers have helped considerably with being able to do read-alouds to students and also facilitated discussion with teachers about developing their understanding of copyright law and exemptions due to remote learning.

Find out more about Kristabelle’s work by following her on Twitter @addeyslibrary and @libthroughthis.