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Sue Bastone

Sue Bastone with pupils from Licensed Victuallers
Sue Bastone with pupils from
Licensed Victuallers' School, Ascot

Sue Bastone
Learning Resources Manager, Licensed Victuallers’ School, Ascot

Sue used to work as a PA in marketing and advertising and was taking a career break after having her family when reading a book made her what she is today. "I was stuck at home, and The Women’s Room by Marilyn French made me want to achieve as a woman and start a new career." Beginning in 1992 with a term-time job computerising a Hampshire school library ("which made me realise that my future was in schools"), she followed a distance learning HNC course with Napier University, Edinburgh and became one of the first mature students without a degree to complete ACLIP and MCLIP qualifications with CILIP ("I waited until 2004 to be allowed to do it"). She chartered in 2007 and has been at LVS, a non-selective independent day and boarding school, for more than six years. She relishes "the new challenges every day brings" and "the wonderful staff and pupils in my school community".

Sue is clearly at the centre of that community: she wrapped the head of sixth form in a bloody sheet for a Murder in the Library event, and was voted once Dancing Queen at a sixth form party ("some of the staff might remember that but none of the pupils"). One member of staff has described her as the glue that holds the community together and she is determined to make everyone in the school as passionate about reading as she is.

Her tactics include every child in Years 7, 8 and 9 carrying reading books, a holiday reading scheme, reading groups for every year plus one for staff, interviews with parents to select books for children and a Drop Everything and Read promotion. Sue is employed by the senior school, which has around 700 students including 180 boarders. The library is kept open from 8am to 9pm with the help of three part-time staff and Sue is voluntarily involved in reading promotion in the junior school.

Her other key areas of work are independent learning, information literacy and pastoral care. She has devised a QUICK information literacy programme for pupils’ independent research. She is part of the team implementing the school’s virtual learning environment, delivers training for staff on issues including copyright and is currently working on ways to support transition from sixth form to university. She is also very interested in visual literacy and wants to focus on this in her library lessons: she enjoys the teaching aspect of her job.

The LVS, founded in 1803, continues to offer some scholarships to families in the licensed trade and, being non-selective, has pupils with a wide range of abilities. The current school building was purpose-built in the 1980s and the first floor library was opened 10 years ago. It has windows on two sides with most shelves free-standing, a media classroom and two other teaching spaces. An area for teenage fiction was planned and furnished by Sue’s pupil library committee.

Three Year 10 boys joined outgoing headteacher Graham Best, in nominating Sue for the SLYA. One boy said: "Since Year 7 she has been an absolutely massive influence on my life. I struggled to cope with the new school and with boarding and she really helped me to settle into boarding life." Her proudest moments involve pupils: the two Year 10 boys who passionately supported school librarians at a recent Campaign for the Book meeting and the boy who offered his services as a library monitor when she was in her first full time job at Ryeish Green comprehensive near Reading. "He computerised the school library, designed the library website and subsequently went on to qualify at Aberystwyth as a librarian."

Her ideal emergency kit would include "A network of school librarians" as well as "patience and determination", "an organised mind" and "ability to be all things to all people". As chair of the Central and East Berkshire branch of the SLA, she campaigns for the future of school libraries, aware that "Not all schools are as committed to their libraries as LVS". Her advice to school librarians who feel under threat is: "Something I learned in business – work at making yourself indispensable."

For more information about Licensed Victuallers’ School, visit www.lvs.ascot.sch.uk