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SLYA Citation for Lucy Bakewell

Lucy Bakewell

Hill West Primary School is set in a pleasant area of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. The catchment area covers a wide range of housing and the children can be from very different backgrounds ranging from very affluent to living in social housing or looked-after children. There are approximately 340 children in a two-form entry, aged from 4 to 11. This year the school has recently embarked on a new "creative curriculum".

When the two old book areas, the infant one in a small hut open one morning a week, and the junior one under the stairs, were abandoned for a new library, Lucy was "keen to take it on from scratch". The new library opened in 2005 and is a testament to Lucy’s hard work. The library is bright, attractive and very well designed. Lucy has made innovative use of inexpensive storage units - including a blue nylon cat sleeping bed used as a book returns unit - to enhance the pupils' experience of coming to the library. There is room for a whole class to sit comfortably on the carpet and work. Soft calming music is played when the Library is being used. The total stock is 6,000 books, which includes classroom collections which Lucy also manages with the Literacy Consultant. The stock is in very good order and is well organised and managed. Lucy has good cataloguing skills and a sound knowledge of the library management system.

All classes visit the Library once a week to change reading books and they also use the Library for information skills lessons. Classes visit Mere Green Public Library at least once every half term. The whole school shows a commitment to reading and Lucy is obviously passionate about promoting reading to all. She has an extensive knowledge of the books within the Library and great skill in finding the right book to offer to a struggling pupil. She actively promotes the Birmingham Young Readers’ Festival.

The library is widely promoted through the school newsletter Parentmail and flyers advertising activities and events. Lucy recently put posters all the way along the drive into the school to promote Roald Dahl Day. The library is a regular item on the agenda for Governors' Meetings. Lucy has a training programme for teachers in the use of the library and trains a couple of pupils from each class to be librarians for the rest of the pupils. There are 6 pupil library assistants who help put books away, tidy the Library and put up displays. They are all trained by Lucy.

Lucy works with small groups of reluctant readers and is inspiring them to read more. She also works with the youngest children and their parents to make story sacks for use in the classroom.

Deputy Head, Fiona Marsh, said that Lucy has had a considerable impact on reading attitudes within the school and the way the library is approached. She admitted that before Lucy took the Library on she used to dread taking a class in. She also said that Lucy has created a desire to want to read, has created enjoyment and turned inner city school boys into book kids, through her work with the Boys into Books initiative.

The whole school is looking forward to the library being moved into the larger ICT suite which will enable them to extend it to after school use, the community and parents.

Lucy has done an amazing job in very limited time she has available to her. She is very hard working and dedicated to seeing the library improve and develop. She is meticulous about detail and has a strong grasp of what is needed to manage the stock. It is very important to her that the pupils see the library as ‘their space’ – ‘it’s their library not mine’ – and that they are fully involved with it. What we found so impressive was Lucy’s passion for the Library and her eagerness to fill every child she comes across with a real love for reading. As a ‘reluctant’ reader herself until she was hooked by a book at the age of 10 she has a unique understanding of how to engage disengaged readers and is a passionate and eloquent advocate for reading and libraries.