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SLA Blog » March 2006RSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

New Publication: Sixth Sense: The Sixth Form and the LRC

Sixth Sense: The Sixth Form and the LRCThe LRC, its services and staff should be an integral part of the life of all 16 to 18-year-old students. In this new publication, practising librarians from around the UK and further afield show the wide range of ways in which the LRC can impact on the lives of our 16+ students.

Price £12.00 (SLA Members £9.00) / €17.50 (SLA Members €13.25)

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Librarians Annual Information Literacy Conference (LILAC)

The second of these annual conferences has just taken place at the University of Leeds from 27 – 29th March. Around 160 librarians from university, school, public and healthcare libraries were treated to some superb keynote speeches from a range of speakers including Professor Dorothy Williams of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library. In addition a range of useful and interesting optional sessions covered research and practical applications in the field.

Key ideas that seemed to grow as the conference progressed were around the importance of a social context for information literacy as opposed to a skills based approach divorced from the community of learners, formal or informal, and advocacy for the subject.

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Ofsted report confirms that effective school libraries can have a positive impact on pupils’ learning

The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has published Good school libraries: making a difference to learning. This is the report of a small scale survey which sought to evaluate the key factors that lead to improvements in libraries and to highlight existing good practice.

Inspectors identified that the most significant element in bringing about improvements in school libraries was the commitment and support of effective headteachers. The most effective headteachers had a vision for the library’s key role in raising standards of literacy and making a difference to learning.

In the most effective schools, libraries and well trained specialist librarians had a positive impact on teaching and learning. Good librarians interrogated data to identify patterns of use and took account of a range of additional evidence to demonstrate their library’s effectiveness. In effective schools, librarians were regarded as key middle managers and encouraged to work closely with other members of staff. Pupil librarians were also seen as an essential part of the best library teams. Good practice was also observed in schools where librarians used a wide range of effective strategies to promote reading, planned lessons alongside subject teachers and used different ways to evaluate the impact of the library on pupils’ learning.

However, inspectors found that some weaknesses identified in the annual report for 2004 still remain, even in schools where practice was judged to be good. Although the report found that there was a direct link between well funded libraries and effectiveness, funding for libraries varied significantly. In many primary schools libraries were often closed to pupils for long periods during the day which reduced the possibility for voluntary reading by pupils. Although libraries in secondary schools were open for longer hours, the use by pupils once they entered key stage 4 declined, despite the increased importance placed on independent learning and extended reading.

Lessons in library skills were often unsatisfactory and there were too few opportunities for pupils to carry out research or work independently to prepare them for further study or the workplace. The quality of pupils’ information literacy skills was sometimes poor and many pupils struggled to locate and make use of information.

Miriam Rosen, Director of Education, said:

"School libraries are an important resource in schools and should be used effectively. Many schools are doing a good job and pupils are benefiting from it; other schools can learn from this good practice. But in those schools where weaknesses remain it’s very important that schools make the necessary improvements. It’s important for headteachers, senior managers and librarians to work together to develop library provision that benefits the whole school and its pupils."

In order to bring about improvements inspectors recommended that schools:

  • improve evaluation of their library, taking account of the full range of evidence to assess its impact on pupils’ learning and requiring librarians to report formally
  • develop the quality and coherence of programmes for teaching information literacy to provide better continuity, challenge and progression in pupils’ learning
  • extend use of the library by teachers and pupils throughout the day, but especially by primary pupils at lunch time
  • improve use of the library by Key Stage 4 pupils
  • consider ways to promote pupils’ independent study by more effective use of the library.

Those responsible for advising and supporting schools in developing their libraries need to:

  • work with headteachers and senior managers, as well as librarians, in order to develop provision and integrate developments with other whole-school priorities.

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Astrid Lindgren Award winner 2006 announced

 Katherine Paterson"The growth of the imagination demands windows - windows through which we can look out at the world, and windows through which we can look at ourselves."

The American writer Katherine Paterson, who made this comment, has been awarded the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Established by the Swedish Government, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world's largest award for literature for children and young readers. The annual international prize of SEK 5 million (equivalent to approximately USD 640,000 or 530,000 Euros) may be awarded to authors, illustrators, narrators and/or promoters of reading whose work reflects the spirit of Astrid Lindgren. The object of the award is to increase interest in literature for children and young people, and to promote children's cultural rights on a global level. The award is administered by The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs.

The judges commented on this year's winner: "Katherine Paterson is a brilliant psychologist who gets right under the skin of the vulnerable young people she creates, whether in historical or exotic settings, or in the grim reality of the USA today. With a deft aesthetic touch she avoids simple solutions, building instead on the inner strength and courage of her main characters".

H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden will present the award at a ceremony at Skansen in Stockholm on 31 May 2006. The ceremony is open to the general public.

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Honour List Announcement for SLA School Librarian of the Year Award

At a packed event at the London Book Fair yesterday afternoon, the SLA was delighted to announce its Honour List for the School Librarian of the Year Award, now in its second year.

Alec Williams, Chair of the SLA for 2004 - 2006, announced the following list of librarians who were considered by the judging panel to be outstanding examples of best practice and innovation in their particular phases of education:

  • Nancy Anstee
    Waycroft Primary School, Bristol
  • Debbie Carr
    Willows High School, Cardiff
  • Jayne Gould
    Broke Hall Community Primary School, Ipswich
  • Katie McGivern
    St Patrick's High School, Coatbridge
  • Anne-Marie Tarter
    Ripon Grammar School

SLYA Honour List 2006

SLA President Aidan Chambers presented Award certificates to the librarians and representatives of their schools, acknowledging that without the support of the headteacher and senior management team even the most innovative librarian will find it very hard to run an effective school library. Aidan noted that the award has grown in size this year, with a larger number of nominations than the first year, and an increased number of schools visited before the final names were selected.

The Honour List librarians will also receive books for their libraries donated by the following publishers:

  • Andersen Press
  • Collins Education
  • Frances Lincoln Children's Books
  • Hodder Books
  • Orchard Books
  • Random House Children's Books
  • Scholastic
  • Walker Books

The SLA is very grateful to these publishers, and to the London Book Fair for their support of this important new Award.

We are also extremely grateful to Micro Librarian Systems for their very generous sponsorship of the Award this year, which has enabled it to continue on a more secure basis.

The final winner will be announced by the Children's Laureate, Jacqueline Wilson, at the Library and Information Show at the NEC, Birmingham, on 27th April. A limited number of tickets are available for school librarians who are encouraged to contact the SLA office to have their name put on the list.

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Happy World Book Day

The United Kingdom today, 1st March, celebrates World Book Day.  All around the country school and public libraries are finding ingenious ways of celebrating books and reading.

World Book Day has now been celebrated in the UK for 10 years, and grows in support every year.  £1.00 book tokens are provided for children through their schools, and a range of £1.00 books by top children's authors are published to allow children a choice.  This year, to celebrate the 10 years, there will be 10 of these.

Adults too can join in the fun by nominating the 10 books they couldn't live without.  More information about the celebrations on the WBD website.

We wish all our members a Happy World Book Day, and hope that their readers will be enthused and inspired by the work they put in.

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