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SLA Blog » August 2016RSS 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.

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Sophie Chalmers: Honour List Profile

School Librarian of the Year Award 2016: Honour List Profile

Sophie Chalmers

Southbrook School, Exeter (www.southbrook.devon.sch.uk)

As librarian at Southbrook School, a special school for 120 children aged 11 to 16 with complex difficulties, Sophie Chalmers "has changed hearts and minds," and is often rewarded with news that pupils at her school "have bought books with their pocket money or asked for books for birthdays and Christmas." This is no doubt due to the fact that great positivity and a strong sense of fun inform Sophie's approach to her work, whether it's through pretend play or personalised book suggestions.

Sophie's library is somewhat unusual: a double-decker bus parked in a sensory garden. This special space, highly decorated and with a comfy beanbag chill-out reading area in addition to more recognisable banded library shelving and seating, plays a key role in Sophie's continual championing of the library as an exciting location within the school. She has created a place that really belongs to the children, where there are lots of engaging things to do in addition to reading and discovering books. One example of this is that many children like to pretend they are a bus driver and Sophie is their customer. A bus timetable and ticket prices are displayed and surreptitiously through role-play, Sophie is able to introduce reading activities which have been particularly successful with her male reluctant readers. Similar playfulness is exhibited through the existence of the "Library Jail". If a child forgets their book or loses it they can get upset and Library Jail is used as "a fun way to cheer them up and have a joke with them".

Sophie's approach to work has a powerful child-centred focus. She has a real passion for getting to know each different child so that book suggestions and activities can be tailored to their particular needs and interests, including curating named boxes of books for individuals. Children at Southbrook school play a pivotal role in the library's continual development. All pupils are encouraged to make suggestions about changes and additions they'd like to see, and a Library Panel made up a small group of children representing the whole school, both pupils who use the library frequently and those who are more reluctant readers, regularly meet to provide feedback to Sophie. This helps to ensure the issues and interests that really matter to her pupils (which she as an adult may not always be aware of) drive library development. Students recommend their favourite books to others through shelf tags and enthusiastic pupil librarians are put forward for the Devon SLS qualification.

All children have at least one library lesson a week and Sophie teaches information skills as appropriate to the individual when the need arises. With much valued support from teaching staff, Sophie has used book banding to successfully develop a positive sense of competition and also pride in the children's developing reading levels. She's created an environment and school-wide positive attitude so that no child feels they are low ability. Instead, there's an enthusiasm for improvement with students keen to tell their friends what colour band they are on and an eagerness to improve.

Sophie's personalised approach extends to staff too, with library training every year and tailored booklists to support their teaching as well as help enabling teaching staff to create their own book corners in their classrooms. Further embedding of books and reading across the school is evidenced by a recent development which has seen the tuck shop given a makeover so that it now contains a library section to enable and encourage children to access books during their break times. The library is widely promoted across the school through posters and school assemblies, and Sophie also regularly talks to parents about the school library and how parents can support its activities and their children's developing reading skills and interests.

Sophie works hard to nurture relationships between her library and the community, linking with the local mainstream secondary school and the city library through various reading challenges. She also facilitates a reading buddy scheme, connecting Year 7 students from Southbrook School with the local mainstream secondary school. Keen to highlight to her pupils how everyone reads, Sophie is currently working on a special event for September with prominent members of the local community (as well as a listening dog!) reading with and to her students.

The library bus plays an important role in transition activities from local primary schools. In Sophie's experience many children join Southbrook School with a very negative attitude towards reading, and it's a matter of great personal pride that she creates an atmosphere which shows them how the library is an welcoming and interesting place to spend time. Before long she sees the new children approach reading with renewed confidence and enthusiasm. So what is the key to making this happen? She sees it as a multi-pronged approach which includes her maintaining a well-rounded knowledge of children's books and authors (and what crazes her students are currently going mad for), creativity in using the library space in all sorts of different ways, "a memory that can store each child's reading interests and reading level" and embracing "having fun" with the children. "Most importantly, time. Just sitting with them and listening" makes all the difference.

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BookTrust Launches ‘In Other Words’ New Children’s Books in Translation Project

Children’s reading charity BookTrust today announces a new children’s books in translation initiative, called ‘In Other Words’, to encourage UK publishers to publish more works from around the world.

BookTrust will pay for sample translations from 10 outstanding works and present them to the UK publishing community in an event at the Bologna Book Fair.

BookTrust invites foreign publishers, agents and scouts to submit outstanding works of fiction for 6-12 year olds to a panel of expert judges who will select 10 titles for translation. Chaired by literary critic, Nicolette Jones, the panel includes award winning translators Sarah Ardizzone and Daniel Hahn, Waterstones’ Florentyna Martin, Emma Langley from Arts Council England and BookTrust’s Director of Children’s Books Jill Coleman. The judges will select 10 outstanding entries, with up to 4 declared BookTrust In Other Words Honour Titles. A special event will be held at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on 4th April 2017 showcasing the Honour Titles, with information about all 10 extracts included in a rights guide.

Any UK publisher acquiring rights to publish one of the texts will be given a £1500 grant per book from BookTrust to promote the author and translator with UK marketing, publicity and touring in the UK.

The project is funded by Arts Council England.

Submissions open on 1st September and close on 26th September. Full information about the project can be found at http://www.booktrust.org.uk/in-other-words

The project will be launched to UK publishers at an event on 4th October 2016. This will involve discussions around barriers to translation, and guidance on how best to work with authors and their translators when promoting books in the UK.

Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust comments: ‘We are delighted to be launching our new initiative to encourage more UK publishers to acquire foreign fiction for children. We know children benefit enormously from reading widely and from stories set in other cultures, and now more than ever we are looking to diversify the books we offer children. We have had had an extremely positive response from publishers and we look forward to being inundated with the very best children’s stories from around the world, and bringing them to a whole new readership.’

Emma Langley, Arts Council England comments: ‘We are pleased to be working with BookTrust and the Bologna Book Fair to encourage and enable more UK publishers to celebrate the best foreign literature. Conversations the team at BookTrust have had with publishers have shown the cost of translation and of promoting overseas authors in the UK are real barriers, and this project seeks to overcome both. BookTrust’s In Other Words is part of our wider programme of events championing books in translation.’

For more information please contact freelance project manager Clare Hall-Craggs tel 07880 783113 email clarehallcraggs@gmail.comor Monica Brimacombe in the BookTrust press office tel 020 7801 8849 email monica.brimacombe@booktrust.org.uk

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Work Smarter and Shine: Penrith, Cumbria, 18 October 2016

Our course Work Smarter and Shine, run by Sarah Pavey MSc FCLIP, will be held at Newton Rigg Conference Centre, Newton Rigg College, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0AH on 18 October 2016.

This new SLA course will help you to -

Streamline development plans for your library, taking into account both operational and strategic approaches

Structure a job description that is achievable and realistic

Manage your personal time

Understand teenage behaviour and how to deal with it in a library setting

Develop assertive responses for effective communication with all in the school community


The closing date is 3 October 2016. Bookings received by 23 September 2016 are eligible for a £15 discount.


Key Audience: Anyone woking in a secondary school library who wants to see how they can work more effectively in their role in order to achieve more productive outcomes.

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School Librarian of the Year Award 2016: Fve exceptional librarians

It is testament to the especially high quality of nominations received this year that the Honour List for the SLA School Librarian of the Year Award 2016 is longer than usual. This year five exceptional librarians from a wide variety of schools are included:

  • Sophie Chalmers (Southbrook School, Devon)
  • Rachel Knight (Sherborne Girls, Dorset)
  • Amy McKay (Corby Business Academy, Northamptonshire)
  • Alison Tarrant (Cambourne Village College, Cambridgeshire)
  • Lauren Thow (Portobello High School, Edinburgh)

These are five exceptional school librarians, each of which has made a huge difference to the lives of the students and people they work with, igniting a passion for reading, setting students on a learning journey, teaching them essential skills, as well as supporting staff and reaching out to the wider community. Any one of these five would be a worthy winner of the SLA School Librarian of the Year Award.

Their full profiles will start to go live on the SLA website on 30 August, with each further profile being published once a week.

Ginette Doyle, Chair of the SLA School Librarian of the Year Selection Committee, said:

"Every year I speak about the amazing, high-level librarians who have reached the honour list and think that they cannot be bettered. This year we have five honour list librarians with less than five marks separating them. Each one is doing incredible work in their school libraries. Each one is a very worthy Honour list member."

Download the full SLA Press Release about the 2016 Honour List:

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BBC Children in Need and Lloyds Bank invite you to be a part of the Big Spotacular!

BBc SpotacularFrom spotty fancy dress and spotty cakes to sponsored spot challenges, get ready to show your spots and raise as much as you can to help change the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in the UK.

Designed especially for early years, primary and secondary schools, the Big Spotacular builds on last year’s campaign, which proved to have a positive impact on student skill development, including teamwork, communication and confidence.

Register for your FREE Spotacular Fundraising Kit, packed full of goodies including posters and stickers, before 16 September and you will be in with the chance of a visit from Pudsey Bear himself during his Schools Roadshow!

Spotacular fundraising tools and education resources will be going live in September so don’t forget to check back at the start of term.

To find out more and request your fundraising kit, visit https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/schools/fundraisingkit

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UK team win second place in Kids Lit final!!

Many congratulations for gaining second place to Eva, Hannah, Olivia, Sophia and Librarian Rhona Clark, from Hamilton College who represented the UK in the World Final of the Kids Lit Quiz. This exciting literary competition took place in Auckland New Zealand on the 19 August. It was a very close result with Wellesley College NZ winning by only one point. Third place was won by Kinross Wolaroi School in Australia.

Congratulations must go to all the teams who took part from countries across the globe.

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Significant Contribution to Scottish Children's Literature Award announced

The Bookseller announced, on August 10, that the Scottish Book Trust has launched a new award that recognises outstanding contributions to Scottish children’s literature:

"The Significant Contribution to Scottish Children’s Literature Award, sponsored by Browns Books for Students, will be given annually to one author or illustrator and one librarian or teacher who have had an inspiring impact on young readers in Scotland.

Marc Lambert, c.e.o. of Scottish Book Trust, said: “It is a simple statement of fact that the projects Scottish Book Trust runs for children would simply not exist without the passion of the teachers and librarians who consistently exceed their remit by embracing each and every reading campaign, award, tour, event and challenge.

“And, of course, there would be nothing to get the children excited about were it not for the outrageously talented and hardworking bunch of authors and illustrators that Scotland is lucky enough to lay claim to. This award is intended to celebrate and recognise these people – the ones who bring the magic of books to children and set them on a path to being booklovers for life.”

Nominations will open on 31st August 2016 and the winners will be chosen by an independent panel of experts and announced at an evening reception in June 2017."

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Job Vacancies: St Paul’s School - LIBRARIAN

Salary: c £20,000 - £22,500pa term time only (plus 2 weeks)

We are looking for an enthusiastic and committed Librarian to manage, develop and promote our well used and well-resourced Library.  This is an opportunity to join a school that enjoys a reputation for academic and all-round excellence.

The ideal candidate will be a qualified librarian with very good experience and knowledge of working in a library. The candidate should possess excellent interpersonal skills and be able to communicate with boys, parents and staff.

Further details and an application form can be obtained from the school’s website, www.stpaulsschool.org.uk, or by email from humanresources[at]stpaulsschool.org.uk;

The closing date for receipt of applications is noon on Friday 19 August 2016. Interviews will be held on Thursday 25 August 2016.

St Paul’s School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.  Applicants will be required to undergo child protection screening appropriate to the post including checks with past employer and the Disclosure and Barring Service. St Paul’s School is an equal opportunities employer.

St Paul’s School is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England at Lonsdale Road, London SW13 9JT. Registered Company Number 6141973. Registered Charity Number 1119619.

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Job Vacancies: Bradford Grammar School - Temporary Part-time Assistant Librarian

(fixed term contract to provide maternity cover)

22 hours per week during term time only

Bradford Grammar School believes in providing every opportunity for its Junior and Senior pupils to embrace academic, sporting and creative excellence within an aspirational, caring environment, in which happiness is the key to an individual’s success.

Applications are invited from well qualified and enthusiastic candidates who ideally possess a recognised qualification in Librarianship at degree level, excellent customer service skills, and ICT competency at intermediate level.

We are an equal opportunities employer, committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. Successful applicants are subject to an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service check and satisfactory employment references.

For further details and to apply online please visit our website bradfordgrammar.com (CVs cannot be accepted).

Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 19 August 2016 at 12pm. Interviews are likely to be held week commencing 29 August 2016.

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Odd and the Frost GiantsWednesday 31st August – 7pm for a 7:30pm start. Bloomsbury publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP

Join Chris Riddell, Children’s Laureate and three times Carnegie Medal winner, as he talks about  his work with bestselling author Neil Gaiman. As well as giving an insight to his creative process, Chris will reveal his inspiration behind some of Neil Gaiman’s key characters.

Chris Riddell has now worked his magic on six Neil Gaiman books for Bloomsbury including Coraline, Fortunately, the Milk and The Sleeper and the Spindle (for which Chris won his third Greenaway Medal). Their latest endeavour is a beautiful illustrated edition of Odd and the Frost Giants.

This is a fantastic chance to hear from one of the UK’s most talented and in demand illustrators. Pre-publication copies of Odd and the Frost Giants will be available for the special price of £10.

Spaces for this event are limited so make sure you reserve your spot!

To book your space please RSVP to Ian Lamb on ian.lamb@bloomsbury.com

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Job Vacancies: Bristol Grammar School - Library Assistant

Location       Bristol

Salary     £12,500 - £13,500 per annum

Hours      Part-time

Contract type/term    Permanent

Summary of the role

Bristol Grammar School, set in the heart of Bristol City Centre, are seeking a part-time Library Assistant to join the school’s Library team. The Library is an essential part of learning and teaching at BGS, providing essential support for staff and students throughout the School day and beyond. The Library Assistant will be expected to support and assist with the day-to-day running of the Library including demonstrating research methods, working with other members of the library team maintaining a purposeful working environment and helping students and staff to make effective use of Library. It is essential the successful candidate is keen and able to inspire students a love of reading and nurture their love of learning.

Application details

Full role job details and an application form may be obtained from the School’s website: http://www.bristolgrammarschool.co.uk/Job-Opportunities.aspx

To apply please complete an application form, to which a personal curriculum vitae may be added if desired, and an equal opportunities monitoring form. This should be accompanied by a brief covering letter addressed to the Headmaster, Mr R I MacKinnon. Please send to the HR Department, BGSHR[at]bgs.bristol.sch.uk(Bristol Grammar School, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SR).

The closing date for applications is Monday 22 August 2016 at 9.00am

Interviews are currently planned for Tuesday 06 September 2016

This is an exciting opportunity to join a popular, well regarded and forward thinking school.

Bristol Grammar School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people: successful applicants must be willing to undergo an enhanced DBS check.

Registered Charity Number: 1104425

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GIVE A BOOK..Because Reading matters.

Ashburnham Lib1Give a Book is a UK based charity that started in 2011 with the sole aim of giving books where they will be of particular benefit. Our core belief is that to pass on a good read-to give someone a book-is a transaction of worth. We provide practical solutions to help disadvantaged people in local areas by working with schools, the local community and partnering with other organisations to provide books to encourage an enjoyment of reading.

Our books go directly to schools and a range of charities, including: Age UK, First Story, Maggie's Centres, Nexus Fostering & Reading Ahead (formerly Six Book Challenge).

One of our newer projects has been the Ashburnham Community School library.

Last year we were put in touch with Ashburnham Community Primary School. We met Clare Taylor, Senior Teacher, who said that the one thing that would really transform the life of the school would be to have a library. Clare told us that Reading for Pleasure was something that they were working really hard to imbed within the curriculum. They were on a rapid journey to move from ‘Requiring Improvement’ to ‘Outstanding’, but wanted to give something to the children for all the hard work that they were putting into their learning.

For space they had a bit of corridor, for books just a few old and uninviting ones.

Thanks to our brilliant supporters we were able to help not only build a new library through wonderful FG Library, to restock the non-fiction library thanks to Jubilee Books, but also introduced the school to their Ashburnham Liblocal Schools Library Service to help organise the books they had.

Clare said: The library is now a haven that the children thoroughly enjoy using. The children are now able to sit with friends and enjoy reading. They also look forward to visiting now and want to show visitors to it.

So here we introduce to the world the new Ash Library, the beating heart of a now Outstanding school.

The new library is an inviting place for all the children and a wonderful space for small groups to read together. The ‘snuggle pod’ is a particular favourite of the children, as they love cozying up in there with a friend and a book. Amanda Douglas. Y4 teacher

The new library is a breath of fresh air for our school! It is impossible not to notice just how inspired the children are to spend time there now… They love choosing books and I often see them finding a quiet spot to read. Thank you for the transformation!  Sophie DeMenthon. Yr5 teacher

I like it because it is fun, much more modern and more organised.  Issac Yr 4

It’s new, it’s nice and it has new cushions and it is a relaxing space. Youseph Yr 4

As soon as the new Library was completed at Ashburnham, the children in Year 6 took full ownership of it and revelled in the opportunity to use and enjoy it. Every day, children ask me if they can go to the library with such excitement, either to choose a new book (from the immaculately ordered shelves) or to read quietly in it. I have noticed a great improvement in children taking pride in their Reading Records as a result, since their choice of books has widened so much. We cannot thank Miss Taylor enough for all she has done!”  Miss Blackshaw, Y 6 Class Teacher

I love reading now, as we have a space that is clean and organised and many new books to enjoy!   Amine Y6

The library has invigorated my child’s passion for reading, so thank you!
Parent of Y4 child

(Photos by Gareth Bevan Photography for Beanstalk.)

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