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SLA Blog » Recent PostsRSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

Mental Health and Wellbeing in a School Library Setting: Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, 21 November 2018


Our course Mental Health and Wellbeing in a School Library Setting, run by Marie (Maz) Udall, will be held at Wallsend Customer First Centre, 16 The Forum, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear NE28 8JR on 21 November 2018.

This training will show school library staff how to create a culture that's conducive to good mental health, a well as looking at the challenges facing young people today and the solutions they can employ, in the space they inhabit in school, to help students struggling in these areas.  Issues covered will include anxiety, body image, exam stress, mental health and self-esteem. 

The closing date is 6 November 2018. Bookings received by 24 October 2018 are eligible for a £15 discount.

Key Audience:

primary and secondary school staff

More Details...

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Mental Health and Wellbeing in a School Library Setting: Penrith, Cumbria, 6 November 2018


Our course Mental Health and Wellbeing in a School Library Setting, run by Marie (Maz) Udall, will be held at Newton Rigg Conference Centre, Newton Rigg College, Newton Rigg, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0AH on 6 November 2018.

This training will show school library staff how to create a culture that's conducive to good mental health, a well as looking at the challenges facing young people today and the solutions they can emply, in the space they inhabit in school, to help students struggling in these areas.  Issues covered will include anxiety, body image, exam stress, mental health and self-esteem. 

The closing date is 22 October 2018.

Key Audience: primary and secondary school staff

More Details...

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Development and Discussion: Evaluating e-resources

 We've had a few enquiries about how you can evaluate the e-resources you subscribe to, so this month's Discussion and Development blog is from Polly at JCS. 


Evaluating subscription e-resources: top tips for librarians from JCS

At JCS we believe that evaluating e-resources properly is just as important as making decisions about which books to buy.

Some publishers may just want to offer a demo over the phone, but it is really important to review the resource for yourself and in your own time. And trials should be free and with no obligation to buy!

A good digital resource should be intuitive and easy to use, so evaluating it shouldn’t take you too long but make sure you have access for at least a week if not longer.

Ideally, you should be able to trial the whole resource and not a small subset.

The subscription cost is an important question to ask about at the same time as the trial. After all, it may prove to be a great resource but completely unaffordable.

After running our e-resources subscription service for almost 8 years we’ve learned a lot, so these are our top tips to help you get the most out of your trial.

What to look for in the resource:

When you evaluate an e-resource always keep in mind the reason you were attracted to it in the first place. What is it you need? What gap in your resource provision do you hope it will fill?

At the outset there are two important things to consider:

  1. the quality of the content, and the access options. (The more access options available the better!)

Some key points to check:

  • Plenty of content
  • The content is curriculum relevant
  • The content is regularly updated at no extra cost
  • The content is the appropriate level for the intended students
  • The presentation of content is clear and logical
  • The resource is easy to navigate
  • There are multiple access options
  • The resource can be used on handheld devices

Talk to your teachers and get their feedback

If the resource is subject specific or supports subjects across the curriculum you will want to involve the relevant teaching staff. All being well, you will be allowed to share the trial details with colleagues in which case you can get them involved in the evaluation.

Provide them with a summary of the resource and make sure to follow up and request feedback. An easy way of getting feedback is by giving them a short form to fill in. JCS can provide you with a ready-made one to share.

This feedback not only helps you make a decision about the resource, but also backs up your request if you need budget approval.

Sharing access with teaching staff and getting their feedback at the free trial stage is really important. If your teachers are fans of the resource from the beginning, then it is much easier to get the resource used in the classroom once you’ve subscribed.

Don’t forget to ask your students!

If your students like a resource then they will help get your teaching staff on board. And most importantly they are most likely to use the resource once you subscribe which at the end of the day is what you need, and for the investment to not be wasted!

So, make sure you share your free trial details with students too and get their feedback. Show them the resource when they’re in the library, and if they’re enthusiastic about it encourage them to tell their teachers how much they like it!

Talk to your fellow librarians

Who better to ask about a resource than a librarian who already subscribes! Why not give a fellow librarian a quick call or email and ask them about their resources? Contact fellow members of your regional SLA group or the SLA Office. And don’t forget about social media – tweet out questions or ask for recommendations on Twitter. Plus talk to other librarians at events, such as the JCS 2018 conference.

Promoting your new resource

Subscribing to a new resource mustn’t be the end of the story! You may know and love it but others need to get on board too. So, plan some promotion and make sure relevant teachers and Year groups know how to access it and how it can help their studies.

Check your usage statistics regularly — some resources such as JSTOR Secondary Schools Collection and Drama Online allow you to schedule monthly or yearly statistics. This way if usage is down over a month or two you know that the resource needs more promotion.

Some resources will also allow you to access more detailed reports showing the titles of the journals/content accessed, so you can see what content is being used and is most popular. If it is a multi-disciplinary resource you’ll know which departments to promote the resource to more.

And finally…

We hope these tips help you to evaluate subscription e-resources. At JCS we have made sure the publishers we represent offer free trials which can be shared with colleagues and used with students. You can also get a price quote at the same time as the trial via JCS and we will send information about the resource to share with teachers.

Check our brand-new website to see the full list of resources available to schools.


Polly Krabbé is the Marketing and Communications Manager at JCS Online Resources. JCS negotiates with publishers to provide schools worldwide, and UK public libraries and further education colleges with the best subscription rates for e-resources. JCS Online Resources also provides an online ordering service — My JCS— for e-resources.

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New Comics Laureate announced

Award-winning author Hannah Berry, creator of the critically-acclaimed graphic novels Adamtine and Livestock, whose credits include work for New Statesman, was announced as the new Comics Laureate at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival earlier this evening, Saturday 13th October 2018.

The Comics Laureate is an ambassadorial and educational role for the comic genre and aims to raise awareness of the impact comics can have in terms of increasing literacy and creativity. The appointment is made biennially to a distinguished comics creator, writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the genre.

More information can be foudn here: https://www.comicartfestival.com/news/new-comics-laureate-announced

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New Staff member

Some of you may remember that over the summer we were recruiting for a Member Development Librarian. We can now reveal that we are delighted to welcome Dawn Woods into the SLA Office. Dawn has a huge amount of experience and knowledge of school libraries, and her passion, calm enthusiasm and steadfastness will bring a lot to the SLA. Her main role will be working with and for the members; being the first point of contact for enquiries, developing resources for the website and making sure members have all they need to excel in their roles. 

Dawn will be starting in November, and we are very much looking forward to her joining the team. 

And that brings us to the end of Libraries Week. We hope you celebrated what you do in some way, and make sure this weekend you take some time to focus on your well-being. 

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Children's Choice vote - vote now!

There's just under a month to go of the Children's Choice Award, so if you haven't explored the amazing books on the Information Book Award Shortlist yet there's still time! 

There's some brilliant books on the shortlist in all categories: Under 7; 7-12 and 12-16 so get exploring, discussing and voting! 

If you would like to attend the ceremony at 6pm on 7th November email: info@sla.org.uk. Designated tickets will be given on a first come first served basis. 

Vote here: https://www.sla.org.uk/information-book-award.php before Saturday 27 October 2018.

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Winter Mini Challenge

With the weather turning thoughts are turning to half term and beyond...

 The Winter Mini Challenge from The Reading Agency encourages children to keep reading through those cold, winter holidays.

This year they are thrilled to be joining forces with publisher partner Nosy Crow to run a very special and seasonal "There's A Yeti In The Playground" themed Mini Challenge.

There's A Yeti In The Playground is filled with laugh-out-loud fun from Blue Peter Award winners Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham and we can't wait for children to join in with all the Yeti fun!

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CE Blog 5: Libraries Week

 So, this blog is a few weeks overdue – apologies!

Things have been moving apace at the SLA with a series of announcements and special resources being released to celebrate Libraries Week; working on the Great School Libraries campaign; developing internal things – the new website and database for starters! So all in all it’s been a busy few months, but busy is good, as it means there are potential benefits for members in the works.

Over this month I’ve been to Liverpool, Macclesfield, Preston for various meetings with partners and library staff, and as well as thoroughly enjoying my time on the train watching the countryside go by I’ve had lots of time for reflection (and reading!). I have am really enjoying this role – it’s great to meet so many partners who are keen to support school libraries and who really understand the difference a school library can make. I was on a panel about non-fiction at the Bookseller Kids Conference at the end of September, and as always at these events, there was a real recognition of the difficulties the sector is facing (publishing and school libraries) and a willingness to do something about it.

Libraries Week has been incredibly positive – both from a national point of view and an SLA one, and I think the theme of well-being has really consolidated participation. At the APPG Libraries launch for Libraries Week Nick Poole mentioned that the first day of Libraries Week saw a social media reach of about 19000 people – in one day! That’s incredibly powerful – lots of sharing and engaging with incredibly moving stories about how libraries are helping people, which are fantastic.

It has also been a very busy week for the SLA. In case you’ve missed any of it here’s a rundown of what the SLA has been up to this week:

              Monday – shared a mental health toolkit called the #HandsUp4HealthyMinds and movie display material from The Hate U Give movie; announced a reciprocal membership deal with the National Literacy Trust, and with that a competition for a primary and a secondary to win a year’s free membership to both organisations.

              Tuesday – This day was entirely given over to the announcement of the School Librarian of the Year, and celebrating the magnificent work all the Honour List librarians do. In the end, it was Emma Suffield who took the title, and it was a lovely moment when she thanked last year’s recipient – Lucas Maxwell – for playing a role in her development.

              Wednesday – Saw me travel to Preston as Chair of the Great School Libraries campaign to talk to a network of librarians there. It was great to meet them all, and really try to get across what the campaign is all about. We also released some ideas and tips of how to promote well-being in your school library – let us know if you’ve got some tried and tested ideas.

              Thursday – Saw the announcement that PSP Asset Protection have sponsored a place on the one day training courses! You can choose which one you want – but there’s only a month to enter! I also attended the BookTrust annual lecture – given by Baroness Floella Benjamin. What charisma and charm and pure understanding and care she possesses. A genuine force to be reckoned with - the persistence, playfulness and passion with which she works.

             Friday – we breathe… but not before we announce that we will have a new member of staff starting shortly. You may remember that over the summer we were advertising for a Member Development Librarian – someone who would be the first point of call for the enquiries, and who would make sure that the website is kept updated with resources to support all our members in what they do. I am delighted to announce that… sorry night owls– you’ll have to check in tomorrow to find out!

So while Libraries Week has been an unusually busy week we are all working behind the scenes to deliver you the best service we can. I can’t reveal any more at the moment, but make sure you read the next info@sla (the newsletter that comes with your journal) to stay abreast of the latest developments.

The next Development and Discussion blog will be published on Monday. 

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