SLA School Librarian of the Year Award :: NEWS
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SLA School Librarian of the Year Award

03 March 2021 Share

Honour Librarian: Rose Palmer

Until recently Rose Palmer was Reading Advocate at Oaks Primary School, Ipswich, which serves a large, post-war estate with relatively high levels of deprivation and lack of social mobility. There are 430 children on roll.


The library is housed in a large space located in the heart of the school, just off a main corridor where children and staff walk constantly. It is divided into two sides, one for fiction and AR titles, the other for information books. The library is open plan and the shelves are all easily accessible to students. There are approximately 7800 titles, all high quality and in excellent condition. There is a large set of windows that looks into a corridor, filled with picture book displays. There are skylights to let in plenty of light. Children and staff have open access all morning, and every afternoon has timetabled classes; each class throughout the school has a weekly library lesson, and in addition, Rose runs a number of smaller, more focused book groups including one for parents. Rose is supported in the library by a part-time Library Assistant and an enthusiastic group of Year 6 Pupil Librarians.

Rose studied English Literature at university. She has found the Federation of Children’s Book Groups a particularity valuable source of ideas and resources, and also credits the peer support she receives from other local school librarians as a rich vein of stimulating ideas and good practice.

Although her role is only part time, Rose has a huge impact on the school. Rose creates topic boxes, book displays throughout the school and regularly holds whole school assemblies, celebrating not only well established book events in the calendar such as World Book Day and Empathy Day, but also making feature days of her own, such as Thomas the Tank Engine Day.


For three years she has co-ordinated the inter-school Chantry Book Jam Festival. This brings brilliant, current writers/illustrators right into the heart of the local community and declares that they are for everyone, regardless of location, class, background. The tremendous impact a real life author or illustrator can have on her pupils is also the reason Rose is a huge advocate of the Patron of Reading scheme: "Students really engage when they believe an author is 'theirs'."

In the past Rose has enabled pupils to take part in judging the Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize and as part of a recent project, Rose ran a series of special book groups in Key Stage 2 with a focus on boys. This was to encourage an increased engagement and love of reading. A set of books was chosen by the CLPE and Rose used these to hook the boys into reading. At the end of the project each boy received a book voucher and the local Waterstones was invited in so the boys could spend their vouchers easily.

In understanding that a child becomes a reader on the lap of their parent, Rose has capitalized on promoting reading for pleasure with the parents. She operates a Little Free Library in the office for parents. Stocked with donations, each book has a tag attached welcoming anyone to borrow the books, share the books and recommend the books onwards. Fathers Reading Every Day has also run successfully in the school, led by Rose and her determination to get families reading together. 

To find out more about Rose and her work visit her Facebook page or the school’s Twitter account.