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SLYA Citation for Katie McGivern

KATIE McGIVERN

  • St Patrick’s High School, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, now Abronhill High School, Cumbernauld
    Nominated by Russell Brown, Principal Librarian, North Lanarkshire Education Resource Service
Katie Mcgivern being presented with her Honour Certificate by SLA President Aidan Chambers
Katie Mcgivern being presented with her
Honour Certificate by SLA President Aidan Chambers

Katie has always wanted to be a school librarian, and St Patrick’s is her first professional post. When she was appointed, the library had been closed for six months, and students and teachers had lost the impetus to use it. Beginning with surveys of needs and priorities, by astute stock purchase, and by developing units of work based around information skills, Katie soon made the library a popular and well-used asset again. One example of subject–based use is a Home Economics cookery project – ‘Megabites’ – where students have to research recipes from four countries and then make - and eat - one of them. Most departments are now regular users, including some that are traditionally hard to attract, such as Maths and Science.

Many staff and students testify to Katie’s skills, initiative, and drive. She constantly changes focus to generate and maintain interest in the library across the school. She makes rich and vibrant curriculum partnerships and has a major impact on disaffected boys. She has made the library a vital resource for special needs students. Katie was described as a ‘bestseller’ and ‘the hub of the school’. She is both ‘the eyes and ears of the school’ and ‘the glue that holds teaching and learning together’. Eyes, ears and glue – fascinating! Universities will be pleased to hear this from a student – ‘I know that when I get to university I will be able to research information for myself because I’ve learned to use the library and won’t always have to ask for help’.

Katie is the first librarian in North Lanarkshire to be trained to deliver the Co-operative Learning project, a Canadian initiative which the authority has adopted, which seeks to develop student interdependence by working together positively. Here, the programme is used in the context of library induction skills.

Clubs and activities are very much an important aspect of library life at St Patrick’s. In addition to the usual Homework Club, the library is used by a Supported Study Club which involves targeted study skills teaching by Katie. There is a lot of fun in Katie’s library, with a Worms reading group for first year students; an ABC Club which involves students in stock weeding; a Midweek Madness lunchtime group; and a Summer Sizzler reading programme for transition pupils. National Poetry Day saw Home Economics groups in the library writing poems about ‘A Recipe for Disaster’, and World Book Day was celebrated with a reading marathon involving the whole school. Not to mention Hallowe'en arts and crafts, Murder Mysteries, Books in Black, and the one I particularly like - Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Katie has become a leading light among librarians in North Lanarkshire and works hard to realise the benefits to be gained by forging links. She is set to roll out her Co-operative Learning training across the authority, and is the originator of the Catalyst reading groups project, which is now authority-wide and which she chairs. This project aims, through dialogue and peer review of quality new fiction, to encourage teenagers to rediscover the joys of reading. It has been a huge and rapid success, with students producing their own termly review newsletter, and culminates in the annual Catalyst Book Award event where students and authors meet and mix – a really positive experience.

Katie’s place on the Honour List is richly deserved.