SLYA 2020

School Librarian of the Year 2020/21 Announced

Kristabelle Williams of Addy and Stanhope School was named School Librarian of the Year at a virtual award ceremony. Chosen from a strong Honour List, Kristabelle took over as recipient of School Librarian of the Year from Ros Harding, who also spoke during the ceremony. 

Kristabelle said: "Being awarded SLA School Librarian of the Year 20/21 is a huge honour. I am lucky to work with such wonderful students and staff and thankful to the librarians, educators and young people who I have learnt from throughout my career. The incredible work of all the Honour List librarians shows the vital impact well-funded and professionally staffed school libraries have on students’ literacy, learning and wellbeing. Now more than ever, it is important that we make sure every school has one."

The Honour List of 2020/21

2020 has been a challenging year for the Award due to the restrictions and pressure on schools, however, we are proud to announce our Honour List for School Librarian of the Year 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, and the uncertain situation in schools, as well as the increased pressure many of them will face in September it was felt we could not in all fairness carry out the final stage of judging to decide a winner. Therefore these excellent candidates will remain as our Honour List until we carry out the judging in a fair and consistent way; we hope to carry out visits in Spring 2021, and announce the School Librarian of the Year 2020/21 in June 2021. 

With ongoing thanks to our sponsors the Foyle Foundation and Macmillan Children's Books.

Congratulations to:

Claire Marris - Toot Hill School, Bingham (Nottinghamshire)

Terri McCargar - Latymer Upper School, London

Éadaoin Quinn - Enniscorthy Vocational College, Co. Wexford (Ireland)

Rose Palmer - The Oaks Primary School, Ipswich (Suffolk)

Kristabelle Williams - Addey and Stanhope School, London

SLA CEO, Alison Tarrant said:

"Currently, the role that school and school staff have on the lives of children has never been clearer, but not being at school hasn’t stopped many school libraries from reacting, adjusting and operating during this time. However, there has also been a renewed focus on the importance and power of reading (for pleasure, learning and wellbeing) and information literacy skills, as this generation will rely on these to determine the truth from scare mongering, and educational website from fake news. The Honour List of 2020/21 have all been playing a central role in ensuring this generation have these skills, and they thoroughly deserve this honour."

Mike Watson, Shadow Education Minister, House of Lords said: 

"It's a pleasure to be able to congratulate all five of the candidates who comprise the Honour List for School Librarian of the Year 2020. Each one has demonstrated their determination to convey to their pupils the power of reading in determining the success that can be achieved in the school learning journey. Through their own passion they influence and enhance the life chances of the young people who use the many services provided by the school library. That has never been more important than in these trying times. It's unfortunate that the normal process could not be completed but the judges would have had a very difficult task in selecting a winner from such an impressive group. I wish all of the Honour List well when the judging takes place but also in the particular demands they will inevitably face when schools return in September."

Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon said:

"I am thrilled for all those who have made the prestigious Honour List for School Librarian of the Year. Inspiring, enthusing and engaging the next generation of readers, writings and creative thinkers makes such a difference. Unlocking the joys of reading, helping equip children across the country with not only literacy skills, but creativity and imagination – vital for their progression. Thank you to all those nominated for what they are doing."

Download the full press release

Honour List

Claire Marris - Toot Hill School, Bingham (Nottinghamshire)

Claire works at a state secondary school. The school's library is named the Learning Lounge, and Claire is fun and energetic. If a student declares they hate reading they don't hold that view for long as Claire gets to know them and finds the book that is right for them. During break and lunch they are eager to tell her about their achievements, what they've been reading and invite her to play cards or board games. Claire runs a Reading Classics and Research Skills clubs. During these she teaches students how to understand and enjoy classics and how to find information in books – both are useful for students interested in pursuing further education. Claire is most proud of her reading initiatives which include book gifting to all Year 7s and developing a Reading Week; as well as a BookTrust Challenge utilising the school library packs.

Read Claire's full profile here.

Terri McCargar - Latymer Upper School, London

Terri works at an independent secondary school, and she embodies all the qualities of an outstanding librarian and provides an excellent service to the students. She constantly fights the corner of the library as a place for reading, study and learning, even when this means challenging systems or colleagues. On a training day she hosted all staff (including non-teaching staff) to broaden awareness of the resources in the library, with her team wrapping 140 individually chosen books as a 'Blind Date with a Book' activity. Terri has overseen a book award grow from 6 schools to 30. One of her proudest moments was when the School Captain said during her Extended Project presentation: asked by a student what advice she would give to someone just starting their research, she replied, "Make Ms McCargar your best friend – she knows everything and wants to help!" 

Read Terri's full profile here.

Rose Palmer - The Oaks Community Primary School, Ipswich (Suffolk)

Rose works at a state primary school, and works tirelessly and enthusiastically and has had an enormous impact on the reading culture in the school. Being well read and keeping up to date with publications is certainly one of the keys to her success.  She has an unfailing ability to know just what her students will like and always encourages them to try new genres, authors and styles of text. Rose has started a week long book festival called Chantry Book Jam alongside author James Campbell, and runs 'Adopt an Author' for each class as well as a Patron of Reading for the school. When the library was being extended and remodelled, Rose was instrumental in the design, knowing she was creating a magical reading space in the school.

Read Rose's full profile here.

Éadaoin Quinn - Enniscorthy Vocational College, Co. Wexford (Ireland)

Éadaoin works in a post primary school in Ireland, and she makes sure the physical environment welcomes all students through the books and resources on display; while her professionalism has won the trust and respect of her colleagues. She says 99% of the work she does is done in partnership. Teachers remark that students regularly pull novels out of their bags unprompted when they have a chance to read, whether in a supervised class or even detention! There is a strong focus on feedback and impact, with twice yearly surveys, and tracking the level of library use. There's a range of activities supported, which include chess and newspaper clubs, which gives space for students to be together with other students from across different year groups and friendship groups to share interests and make friends.

Read Éadaoin's full profile here.

Kristabelle Williams - Addey and Stanhope School, London

Kristabelle works in a state secondary school, and has an unremitting and consistent focus on ensuring the best futures for her students, making reading, researching and library use the norm. There are weekly KS3 library classes and book clubs – focusing on RfP, book talks and information skills, activities including discussions, debates, Book Pen Pals, Kahoot quizzes, Padlet activities and Ms Williams' popular mash up of Taboo and Heads Up called "Books Up". By working with teaching departments and with student groups, booklists related to the curriculum, and empathy, inclusion and social justice are promoted across the school. Kristabelle has been instrumental in celebrating how reading for pleasure and mental health/well-being are intertwined, never stopping adapting and innovating to engage and encourage students.

Read Kristabelle's full profile here.


The School Librarian of the Year Award is sponsored by the Foyle Foundation and Macmillan Children's Books.

The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant making Trust supporting UK charities which, since its formation in 2001, has become a major funder of the Arts and Learning. The Foundation also operates a community small grants programme and a national school library improvement scheme.

Macmillan Children's Books:

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