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Shelagh Toonen

Honour List Profile

School Librarian of the Year Award 2017: Honour List Profile

Shelagh Toonen
Elgin Academy, Moray

Shelagh Toonen Elgin Academy dates back to 1801 but the school has been on the present site as recently as 2012. Elgin Academy is a multicultural school with over 1,000 pupils speaking over 24 languages between them.

The library at Elgin Academy is a semi-circular design with the curve being taken up almost entirely by the floor to ceiling window which means the space is light, bright and inviting. There are attractive displays featuring the work of Shelagh’s student librarians.

The library has space for study as well as a more relaxed zone.  There is also an area set up for teaching small sessions around an interactive whiteboard. The library also boasts a very popular Reading Throne.

The library has a high profile presence on the school web page with its own dedicated microsite showcasing the many activities Shelagh provides for the school community. Shelagh is also active on social media and uses it to interact with national politicians. Shelagh also has her own and students' work published on the Scottish Book. Shelagh is also proud of her work on the Nibbles and Bytes sessions and the book trailers she has produced for the Scottish Book Trust.

Shelagh is known for her imaginative cross-curricula work such as her archaeology project, working with science on infectious diseases and working with the MFL department on International Week.

Reading promotion is very strong in school and Shelagh organises and motivates the whole staff to take part. She also runs shadowing groups such as the Excelsior Award, gives regular book talks and OSCAR (“our school cares about reading”) sessions and talks enthusiastically in lessons and assemblies about the joys of reading. All of this has contributed to literacy levels which are way ahead of the national average.

Shelagh runs transition to university sessions including sessions on academic honesty, information literacy and culminating in a trip to a university library. She is always ready to contribute to programmes or initiatives elsewhere in school and has been instrumental in the success of a project aimed at improving the mental health of teenage girls in school.

Shelagh is at the centre of school life and “if something is happening, it’s happening in the library.”