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SLA Blog » September 2011RSS 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 advert on the SLA Job Vacancies section

The new Job Vacancies section on the SLA website has been updated with information about recruitment to help employers get the best candidates for their vacancy and with a new vacancy for a librarian at Nottinghill and Ealing High School

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Reviewing for ict@sla

Are you a keen user of online information?   Would you enjoy a fun professional development opportunity that will look good on your CV?  Why not become a reviewer for ict[at]sla?

We need people willing to review electronic media, including CD-Roms, DVDs and websites, for The School Librarian. This may be items suggested by the ict[at]sla editor, but we are also always on the lookout for your own suggestions. Reviews are usually 400 words, or 800 for more major items, and we also do ‘roundup’ and ‘brilliant bookmarks’ reviews which are short annotations around a theme.

The journal appears quarterly and ict[at]sla reviews also appear on the website after the journal is published.

We are not able to offer any remuneration for this, but the reviews editor will make you a present of books from time to time!

If you are interested, please contact Elspeth Scott at ict.editor[[at]]sla.org.uk.

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New Autumn Posters

Check out the SLA's two new library posters for you to download and use to help promote your library and its resources.

They are a free download, but only available to logged-in SLA members.

Watch out for more posters coming soon!

To strive... to seek... to find

PDF file, 932 kB

Requires Adobe Reader

SLA Members Only




Stock up on your Autumn reading

PDF file, 612 kB

Requires Adobe Reader

SLA Members Only

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SLYA Profile - Carol Webb

Here we profile the third outstanding librarian on our School Librarian of the Year Honour List as we lead up to the announcement of the winner at the award ceremony on 3 October 2011.

Carol Webb

Forest Hill School, London

SLYA - Carol WebbNurturing the boys of Forest Hill School (“the best boys in London”, she believes) as readers and as individuals has been central to Carol’s work in her 17 years at the school, a comprehensive and performing arts college with a mixed sixth form in the south London borough of Lewisham.

For example, two years ago she worked with a pupil to prepare an assembly for LGBT Month. As she said in her assembly address, “A librarian’s job is to collect everyone’s history”. The assembly has now become a fixture on the school calendar.

A Year 7 pupil whose reading was under-developed because of health problems has been encouraged to the point where he is a keen reader in Year 9, thanks to Carol using every tool in her kitbag: support to join the public library, school reading challenges, poetry jams held every half term and a school team for the cross-borough book quiz.

The author events that she holds in school always have an enthusiastic audience and she makes full use of the school’s state-of-the-art theatre. A highlight of her career has been hearing from author Bali Rai “that he had not, in ten years of school visits, had such an overwhelmingly positive response from boys about reading”. Carol’s strong relationships with publishers mean that Forest Hill has hosted webcasts by Eoin Colfer and Rick Riordan. When Jeff (Wimpy Kid) Kinney recently spent just three days in the UK, he found time to meet a party of Forest Hill boys.

She relishes every opportunity to make young readers feel special and adventurous. “The boys love it when I get proofs of a new Charlie Higson novel, for example, in the post and pass it around, and they know they are reading it ahead of the public. They like to be in the know.”

It helps that Carol is herself a voracious reader of children’s literature. When she participated in the 2010 Booked Up panel for Booktrust (to select books to be given free to all new secondary school pupils in England) she read 80 books in 40 days.

To advance reading for information skills, she organised a guitar-building workshop. “This involved staff and students working together, using information from books to design and build from scratch a fully-playing instrument, all in one day.”

Carol received a Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) fellowship in 2007 for her work on reader development. With a network of fellow school librarians built up while studying for a Masters in Education degree in information literacy, she is a co-author of The Innovative School Librarian: Thinking Outside the Box (FACET, 2009). She has given papers at conferences including the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and a public services umbrella bodies conference.

Her current key project is her doctorate in education. Like her masters, it is based at Canterbury Christ Church University, with research for both being done at school. She is in the final phase of research and started drafting chapters over the summer break.

“I’ve been interviewing teachers about what they perceive information literacy to be in relation to their subject area and how they perceive the skills changing through technology. The first findings were very exploratory and very fragmented. Each teacher has a different set of lenses through which they view these skills and a different vision for their subject. We’re working out a common language. It’s exciting work.”

Forest Hill is benefiting from her research. She uses her library lessons to get to know pupils and introduce information literacy skills at the point of need. The sixth formers receive information literacy skills sessions and Carol is working with the senior leadership team to extend this work throughout the school.

Carol chose further studies in education rather than librarianship because, she says, “I enjoy being part of a cohort of teachers, and meeting heads of departments and higher education teachers with similar interests.”

She started her career in Department of Health libraries, including a post at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, then moving into public libraries before her first school library at Westminster City School. She intends to stay in schools, and loves her job because “libraries make a difference, and it really is that simple”.

If she had not become a librarian, she is sure she would have been working elsewhere in public services: “When I was a teenager, I read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. I remember my shock when realising how little had changed in society for those who have nothing.”

Carol has a busy year ahead: she must submit her doctoral thesis by summer 2012, and expects to do most of the writing in school holidays (“I really need a few days to get into writing. I can’t get much done in term time except trying to read around the subject and research”). Her work on restoring her 18th-century farmhouse and garden near Gillingham in Kent has been put on the back burner.

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Library Design Award 2011 - Finalists

The School Library Association is proud to announce the finalists for the SLA Library Design Award 2011.

This year there are three exceptional school libraries in the final:

Rosendale Primary School, London

St John's School, Marlborough

The Elms Junior School, Trent College, Long Eaton.

Read the judges' citations to find out more about these exciting libraries.

The finalists will be celebrated at a ceremony to be held on Monday 3 October 2011 at the Mermaid Conference Centre in London, when the winner of the inaugural SLA Library Design Award will be announced. The celebrations will also include the announcement of the SLA School Librarian of the Year 2011.

Read the full press release here: SLDA 2011 Finalists Press Release.

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New Term

I do hope your new term has set off on the right track and that the busyness associated with the start of the new school year does not negate any relaxation you may have had chance for during the summer!  The SLA office always knows when the new term starts – the phone starts to ring off the hook and we get the chance to talk to you again.

Have you have enjoyed the mix in The School Librarian – and also the super poster for the SLA Information Book Award?  May I encourage your school to take part in the Online Voting for the Children’s Choice winners of the award – see the website for details of how to register to vote.

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SLA Profile - Wendy Roberts

Here we profile the second librarian on our School Librarian of the Year Honour List as we lead up to the announcement of the winner at the award ceremony on 3 October 2011.

Wendy Roberts

Senior School Librarian
Ardingly College, West Sussex

Wendy was appointed seven years ago with a brief to bring Ardingly College's library into the 21st century. After refurbishing the physical space, involving students in the planning, her next move was to hire an assistant and she now heads a department of three.

Having been a solo professional for most of her long career before coming to Ardingly - she turned 60 last year and has worked in a college of education and four schools -- she says:  "You need to take every opportunity you can to develop your practice with colleagues. It is rewarding to work with two keen younger librarians, and also encouraging that the College has seen the value of a professionally run library. I feel confident that it is understood that we're worth the money and can make our contribution to teaching and learning."

The senior school library at the independent co-educational boarding and day school is staffed for long hours, until 9pm on three evenings a week. Wendy's two assistants - one chartered and one working towards chartership - also run the library in the Ardingly College prep school, and one of them is setting up the library in the pre-prep department.  Although Wendy herself does not work with the younger pupils, her influence is felt in the whole school community, through sharing the library team's services and skills.

Wendy Roberts helping students with Year 8 induction activities
Wendy Roberts helping students with Year 8 induction activities

There are 540 pupils in the Ardingly senior school ("It's small enough to know everyone," as Wendy says) with about half of the pupils boarding. Wendy and her colleagues share tutorial duties with the teaching staff and also team teach to cover information literacy issues, the area which represents Wendy's most significant contribution to teaching and learning, including responsibility for the Theory of Knowledge course in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma curriculum.

Her expertise in supporting IB students has led to her being in demand as a trainer outside Ardingly. She recently ran a training day for librarians at schools starting the IB and is about to welcome the Sussex group of CILIP on a visit. The requirement for students to write a 4,000-word extended essay on a subject of their choice related to the IB curriculum calls on many information literacy skills.

"We hold study skills workshops and talk to students about their research to ensure they have the tools to find out what they need," says Wendy. "Providing this sort of support is an obvious role for librarians: we are the information experts. We might give them a one-to-one session on using particular resources or help them choose their topic, although they have a subject mentor as well.

"It is a skill in itself to choose a topic with a scope appropriate to the form of an essay of that length. They are required to become a mini-expert in the area they choose and it's good to have a clear focus: for example, if you were looking at a historical topic it would be good to choose one with clear differences of opinion that you would have to acknowledge."
In addition, Wendy has devised an academic honesty policy, and run training for teaching staff on plagiarism issues. As a head of department, she is on the school's academic planning committee and contributed to the Ardingly Learner Profile, which reinforces the values students are expected to embrace.

"It's important to teach students to ask good questions and that we keep up with how they are approaching looking for information," Wendy says. One book on her recent reading list is The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr. Another is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, an old Ardinian who is due to visit the library this month (September).

Because the college offers a wide range of sports and cultural activities, reading groups are run on demand and usually by the students with the library staff's support, but a Year 9 group is organised to take part in the Southern Schools Book Award, in which students choose the winning book.

Wendy believes that peer recommendation and introducing the right book to the right reader at the right time are crucial in encouraging students who may not be confident or motivated about reading for pleasure. Her most memorable student is a dyslexic girl who did not enjoy reading until Year 10, when her friend recommended Pirates by Celia Rees. "After this, there was no looking back and she became one of the most voracious readers I have encountered, and practically lived in the library."

Wendy has wanted to be a librarian since her grandfather took her to the public library at the age of five. "I wanted to be the lady behind the desk with the date stamp." Now her work as an information expert has impressed her colleagues to the extent that they decided she should be nominated for something. They went looking for an award to nominate her for, until they found the School Librarian of the Year Award.

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An Evening With Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is appearing in conversation at Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Tuesday 18 October at 8:00pm to celebrate the launch of his 50th book, SNUFF. This is a unique opportunity to hear Terry talking about his latest work and the writing process, and to hear an excerpt from the book.
Ticket prices (£35 - £45)  include a voucher for one copy of SNUFF (Doubleday - £18.99), to be exchanged on the night.

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The Children's Bookshow 2011

 The Children’s Bookshow is an annual tour of children’s authors and illustrators from the UK and abroad. The theme for the 9th Bookshow, is Simply the Best, and there is an exciting line up of critically acclaimed artists to inspire children with their enthusiasm and passion for stories.

This year there is also an offer of 52 FREE workshops alongside the performances. These lively workshops offer an invaluable opportunity for children to develop their own creative skills by working with an author or illustrator in their own classroom. Book tickets for a performance near you to be eligible for one of the FREE school workshops.

New this year - Why should the children have all the fun! This year there are also a limited number of workshops and seminars for teachers, librarians and anyone interested in children’s literature.  More information will be available on the Bookshow website in the next few weeks.

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BETT 2012 - Powering Learning

BETT returns to London Olympia in 2012 from Wednesday 11 to Saturday 14 January, bringing together the global teaching and learning community for four, free to attend days of innovation and inspiration.

The BETT seminar programme has been revolutionised for 2012 to become ‘Learn Live’, an exciting, accessible programme of over 100 interactive and informative workshops, seminars, and discussion sessions, all with a hands-on approach. The SLA is facilitating a ‘Learn Live’ session on Innovative Library Design – watch the website for details.

BETT 2012 is free to attend, although registration is not yet open, visitors can register their interest online at www.bettshow.com.  For further updates, visit the BETT 2012 Twitter page www.twitter.com/BETT_Show or become a fan of the Facebook page www.facebook.com/BETT_Show.

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SLA on Kindle

Making a Start with Your Primary School LibraryMaking A Start With Your Primary School Library by Sally Duncan is now available in Amazon Kindle format. This is part of a trial to see how SLA publications might be adapted for new technology platforms. Do let us know what you think!

Follow this link to sample or purchase Making A Start With Your Primary School Library for Kindle:

You don't have to own a Kindle in order to buy Kindle books - you can install the free Kindle reading software on many PCs, Macs, or smartphones.

The print edition of this essential guide is still available to purchase direct from the SLA.

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The School Librarian 59-3

School Librarian Autumn 2011All members should by now have received their copy of The School Librarian 59-3 along with the SLA's newsletter, info[at]sla.

As usual, the ict[at]sla section of the journal can be read online with clickable links, a convenient way to quickly check out some new websites and resources. Our archive of the ict[at]sla section goes back to Volume 56 Number 1.

A complete index of the book reviews in this issue of TSL is available and all reviews can be searched back to Volume 54 (2006).

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SLYA Profile - Helen Emery

We are profiling our School Librarian of the Year Honour List - one per week until the announcement at the award ceremony on 3 October 2011 - watch the website every week for a new profile. We hope you will find reading about these exemplary librarians interesting.

Helen Emery

Librarian and Resource Centre Manager
King Edward VI School, Lichfield

Helen treasures the memory of the trainee school librarian placement at John Cabot CTC in Bristol (now John Cabot Academy) that kick-started her career. “The fantastic librarian, Fleur Cannadine, taught me everything I know.”

Now she has her own graduate trainee scheme in place at King Edward VI. Her fourth assistant has just completed the scheme and the previous three have all gone on to jobs in school libraries. The scheme, she says, “does involve some extra work but it is well worth it. It keeps me reflecting on and improving my practice, and starting afresh with a new assistant every year keeps me fresh, so everyone benefits.”

Helen grew up in Wednesbury, West Midlands, left school at 16 and worked in a local authority benefits office while doing A-levels at evening classes. “The culture I was brought up in was not academic but I soon decided I did not want to be doing the job I was doing forever, and that motivated me.”

She followed a degree in English Literature at University College Worcester with an MSc in Information Library Management at the University of Central England (now Birmingham City). “I remembered going to our public library at six or seven and thinking it would be a wonderful place to work, and I knew I loved books and literature, and suddenly it seemed like a possibility.”

The placement at John Cabot was part of her course, then after graduation she covered her mentor’s maternity leave. “I had not assumed I would work in a school but once I had sampled that environment I didn’t want to do anything else. There are so many ways you can make an impact on students’ lives: through encouraging them to read, through helping them with research, through training them as library helpers or by just chatting to them and making them feel accepted.”

Helen Emery hosting a schoo library visit from The Animal Man
Helen Emery hosting a school library visit from The Animal Man

She came to King Edward V1, her first permanent post, nine years ago. It’s a 1400-pupil 11-18 mixed comprehensive and a specialist science and languages college. The school has 500 years of history and Helen has exploited Lichfield’s status as the birthplace of Samuel Johnson, famous for his Dictionary of the English Language, by publishing her own dictionary of 26 of the Learning Resource Centre’s activities.

Helen’s work on information literacy has led to her being asked to give a presentation at a Specialist Schools and Academies Trust conference. Two years ago she devised a whole-school cross-curricular programme for students doing research called BE ALERT (Before you start, Engage your brain, Ask yourself questions, Locate the sources, Evaluate the sources, Record what you need, Transform what you have found). “There are many information literacy models out there but we wanted one that fitted our school specifically. The ‘Ask yourself questions’ element tests how well students understand the task: is it too vague or too specific? What do they need to find out? What is the end product? And so on.”

The framework is central to Year 7 library skills lessons, which can be delivered by Helen or any subject teacher. She plans lessons on plagiarism and referencing to be delivered by Year 10 teachers, as she cannot cover 10 tutor groups. 

The LRC’s activities vary with student demand but always include sessions for the gifted and talented i-Club, film club and World Book Day events, when all staff participate by wearing a badge with a clue to the title of a book for students to collect.

Helen appreciates the support of her head, Kevin Maycock (she was appointed by the previous head, Duncan Meikle) and the three deputy heads that have line-managed her. “I am allowed free rein and backing to do my best. There is no way I could do what I have done without that support.  I enjoy my relationship with the students. I have to have authority, but I’m not a teacher and sometimes the library can give students a safe haven away from their troubles. I adore my library helpers and try to give them a sense of ownership and I have a great parent volunteer.”

She also nurtures her relationship with Lichfield’s “wonderful” public library. “It’s five minutes from school and the staff are a delight to work with. We put on a joint World Book Night event for sixth-formers across town which was a great success.” The public library and the Staffordshire school library service also worked with Helen on a programme to help Year 8 parents support their children’s reading, which is in its second year.

To relax, Helen runs a Sunday club for five to nine-year-olds at her Baptist church (“I get the chance to be silly and play running-around games.” She likes rock music (she listens to Kerrang! radio station), and motorbikes, having once ridden pillion on Donnington circuit with Ron Haslam. For other white-knuckle moments, she chairs the Staffordshire branch of the SLA.

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SLYA 2011 Honour List

The School Library Association is proud to announce the Honour List for the SLA School Librarian of the Year 2011.

This year there are three exceptional school librarians on the Honour List:

Helen Emery, LRC Manager, King Edward VI School, Lichfield, Staffordshire

Wendy Roberts, Senior School Librarian, Ardingly College, West Sussex

Carol Webb, Librarian, Forest Hill School, London.

The profiles of the three finalists will be featured over the next three weeks on the SLA blog.

Their work will be celebrated at a ceremony to be held on Monday 3 October 2011 at the Mermaid Conference Centre in London, when the SLA School Librarian of the Year 2011 will be announced. The celebrations will also include the announcement of the winner of the inaugural SLA Library Design Award.

Read the full press release here.

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New publication - Awareness and Promotion of Information Literacy

Awareness and PromotionAwareness and Promotion of Information Literacy is the latest title in our SLA Voices series of shorter works written from a personal perspective.

Written by Pat Cowley, Librarian at St. Michael's College in Dublin, it covers her experience in organising a successful Library Week to promote information literacy.

It is available free exclusively to SLA members as a pdf download.

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