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CE Blog 2019 9: Thoughts on Libraries Week and beyond...

15 October 2019 Share


With another Libraries Week finished we are coming to the end of half term for many. I’m going to start this month’s CE blog with a recap of all our announcements from Libraries Week! 

Monday: Saw the launch of the Love your libraries illustrations – we are delighted they are going to be featuring at the SLA Conference in Ashford. We launched our #proudlibraryprovision campaign – encouraging all schools to ensure their school library is featured on their website. More information can be found here: www.sla.org.uk/campaigns There have been some brilliant examples shared, and this campaign is something we will continue to push through to July, so there’s plenty of time to get involved. 

Tuesday: We released more details of our Weekend Course for 2020: “Digital Education: Opportunities for Reading and Learning” along with some keynote speakers and pricing. See more here: https://www.sla.org.uk/weekend-course 

Wednesday: We announced that we are official partners for UK Parliament Week, and have released resources to help you take part, whether you’re primary or secondary based. www.sla.org.uk/campaigns 

Thursday: We revealed our partnership with Bounce Together which has resulted in a brilliant new product. It’s called ‘Wellbeing through Reading’ and it allows staff to collect information about pupils’ reading and wellbeing – allowing you to gain important insight into the attitudes and opinions of your pupils. https://www.sla.org.uk/wellbeing-through-reading 

Friday: We released a brand new publication for members only. This Riveting Reads is on ‘Space and Science’ and can be downloaded exclusively by members here: https://www.sla.org.uk/members-benefits 

 I’ve been talking to people across the country in a variety of schools and organisations last week and it prompted some thoughts. 

 One is that primary school teachers are noticing the fact their pupils are struggling to evaluate information they come across; and with the vast majority of primary schools not having a school librarian this is an area where many teachers don’t know the resources and research that is available. School library staff have to be more vocal, and more teacher friendly when talking about information literacy – if teachers don’t think this is relevant to their everyday teaching they may not spend the time on getting to know what information literacy is. This is equally applicable to secondary teachers – some of whom question whether research based learning can actually work, and I think that means we have to be even more explicit and careful in explaining what we mean by ‘research’ and how it differs from ‘finding out’. 

The second is that classroom libraries are not in competition with school libraries. It’s not a one or the other scenario, but a series of solutions for different problems. Classrooms libraries are essential for having books to hand, allowing teachers to show off a range of related books and giving pupils more face time with books related to different topics. I’d like to see far more classroom libraries in secondary schools – books are just too important to be contained in one space. School libraries allow for a much wider range of choice and selection. They are important in teaching browsing, selecting and choice as part of a reading platform. Ideally, these collections would not be two separate things, but they would support each other – stock coming from the school library to the classroom, and visa versa allowing more resources to be more available and classroom libraries to be refreshed on a regular basis – giving more range and a changing challenge to those readers in the classroom. 

The third is that reading for pleasure is not distinct to reading across the curriculum; this may seem obvious to some, but sometimes I feel as though they are put in two very different camps, and treated as though they don’t relate to each other. Pupils who don’t like reading will have more chance of starting to read for pleasure if it is related to something they are interested in – they may be really into music, and embedding reading across all topics is the best way of ensuring every child has an opportunity to engage in reading something they enjoy and are interested in. The principles of reading for pleasure should be universal across subjects as well – so different types of material should be on ‘reading’ lists. Personally, I prefer ‘resources’ lists where podcasts, YouTube videos and documentaries are listed as well – these can provide the way for engagement where pupils can’t or won’t engage with a book. As Library staff we are ‘information people’ in whatever that form that comes in, and highlighting a range of resources will help pupils and staff. 

 I hope you had a good Libraries Week, and a good half term (when you get to it if you haven’t yet). We are looking forward to the announcement of the Great School Libraries survey results on Wednesday this week – I’m sure that will prompt lots of discussion and thoughts from the sector. 

Still to come this month, we have our Discussion and development blog, which aims to deliver an element of CPD, and our Varied Voices blog which highlights inclusive authors and allows them to be heard. Do get in touch across our social media with any feedback or thoughts.