23 Librarians – could you be one?

I have recently been in touch through Twitter with Anabel Marsh who has written a blog featuring 23 librarians from all different disciplines, including school librarians of course! Anabel’s blog only covers Scotland, and can be found here:http://librarians23.wordpress.com/  However, there are now similar blogs being set up to cover England, Wales and Scotland.  A second round for Scotland is being collected, and if you would like to contribute your story, how about contacting the various regional co-ordinators to tell your story?  These are the contacts:

For England contact Virginia Power: [email protected]

For Wales contact Kristine Chapman: [email protected]

For Scotland contact Anabel Marsh: [email protected]

For Northern Ireland contact Elaine Mulholland: [email protected]

If you don’t feature on the next blog, don’t despair, as I believe that second and third rounds are being written.  Alternatively, you can always send your day to me at Heart to feature in the series A Day in the Life of..  - would be pleased to have updates!

2014 Winner of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award announced!


DC’s Parallel World Superhero Story Scoops First Place!

3172 Ratings Forms were returned and analysed this year and the teenagers of Great Britain have chosen their winner - Earth 2 by James Robinson and Nicola Scott (published by DC Comics)  To find out which books finished 2nd and 3rd click here and visit the website.  Earth 2 also won the JABBICA (Judge a Book By Its Cover Award) , becoming the first graphic novel to win this award AND finish in the top three.  This stunning and intricate cover was created by Ivan Reis.

Sheffield’s Silverdale School won the True Believers Award for the second year running.  This award goes to the school which returns the most rating forms.   Congratulations to them too!






Carnegie and Greenaway winners – and all that fuss!

Carnegie logo

Congratulations to Jon Klassen for winning the Greenaway Medal with ‘This is not my hat’ and Kevin Brooks for winning the Carnegie with ‘Bunker Diaries’.  You can read more about the winning books on the official page.  However, you can’t have missed the controversy surrounding the Bunker Diaries, with some newspapers deeming it unfit to be read  by children, too disturbing and damaging, whilst others took the completely opposing view.  Here are the links, judge for yourselves.

Telegraph: ‘Why wish this book on a child?’

Guardian: ‘Why teenagers need bleak books’ and ‘Why we’re glad the Bunker Diaries won the Carnegie’

Also Shoo Rayner, children’s novelist, believes that the Carnegie has taken the wrong turn, and that the Carnegie Medal should be for children’s, and not young adult, books.  It has caused a Twitter storm from angry YA authors and librarians – read his post here.

And finally, Barbara Band, CILIP President and school librarian made an excellent speech about school libraries on announcement day, advocating for school libraries.  Read her blog post which includes the speech in full here, or watch it on Vimeo here.

Let us know what you think – at least it has got people reading the book,  and commenting, if nothing else!

Goody bags to welcome new students

Read bagsValerie Dewhurst, Head of Library at QEGS Blackburn, spends her year collecting little freebies and other items to make into these wonderful goody bags.  She presents these to pupils on the primary liaison day.  Inside the bags (which she buys very cheaply wholesale from this website) this year are: bookmarks, stationery, Aquila leaflet, WBD book (which you can buy cheaply by the 50′s), a wordsearch, a summer reading list – and anything else she sees which may be useful. What a great way to promote reading and libraries!  This would also be a wonderful way to welcome new Year 7′s, with an information leaflet about the library, a Dewey bookmark, reading diary – a bag to carry their first loan home in.  I am getting excited by the possibilities already – thanks for the inspiration Valerie!

School mobile library


Mobile Libraryjpeg

Does your school have a mobile branch?  Paddington Academy does!  Barry Chaplin, the librarian there told me that he: ‘borrowed a laptop and trolley (with 6 small trays and two big ones) from the Science Department, loaded the laptop with Eclipse2 and created a mobile library, stocking it with around 120 books from the boxes, the date stamp and its own banner. I had the good luck to have inherited an old silver security brick so was able to de-secure the books easily. One of the big trays was kept empty for returns which were booked back in securely at my desktop. The Mobile Library was taken to the breakfast club every morning and to tutors and English teachers who booked it for library sessions.

As a result I bought a trolley for the library and asked for our own laptop from IT Support. Five years on and the mobile library is still an important part of our offer (although less used than then). Recently I have started to use it loaded with single genre books as part of a tutor-time reading scheme.’

Anyone else done something similar?

Advertising books – in the toilets!

Lucy Atherton from the Mallinson Library at Wellington College contacted me with a novel way of advertising books.  She had taken notice of the adverts you see on the back of toilet doors in public conveniences, and had decided to experiment with advertising her books in the same manner.  She started with three of the Carnegie shortlist – All the Truth that is in me, The Bunker Diaries and Rooftoppers.  The sheets were laminated (of course!) and put up in both male and female toilets.  It has brought pupils in to the library asking for books they wouldn’t necessarily have borrowed, and Lucy is preparing her next set of advertisements now.  Read more about it on her blog here.  The photos are below, but due to the lamination and the nature of the lighting, they are not as clear as they could be – but what an amazing idea, don’t you think?

All the Truth Rooftoppers Bunker Diaries


Report: The Impact of School Libraries on Learning



This is an excellent and important research paper, for us all to use for advocacy.  Good research showing that a good school library does impact results.  It also tells us what a good school library looks like.   Also good for showing headteachers why they should keep/why they should have a library.  And finally the report highlights the importance of digital resources, and the place they have to play in a good school library. Essential reading for all of us!

Right Write – Hampshire SLS writing competition

Right, Write front cover

Isabelle Pearce from Hampshire SLS sent me the details of this amazing competition.  I think the schools there are very fortunate to have such a supportive SLS, when so many of us have lost ours. 

Last year in Hampshire SLS we decided to support our secondary schools with creative writing as well as the reading activities we do. We designed a short story competition to complement the new English curriculum requirement of “developing [pupils’] knowledge of and skills in writing, refining their drafting skills and developing resilience to write at length”.

The word count was 500-1000 words, and pupils chose one of three themes. Submissions were made via our Moodle VLE, so we enrolled hundreds of pupils and dozens of teachers and librarians to mark the stories. The mark scheme was out of 40 points, 10 each for Plot, Characterisation, Impact and SPAG. Judy Waite, children’s author and university lecturer, acted as the final arbiter and gave feedback to the shortlisted authors.

The top ten stories were then published in an ebook and made available to the participating schools to upload to their LMS or publish within school. The overall winner’s school will receive a writing workshop from Tarzan author Andy Briggs, and the overall winner (a year 7 pupil) £25 worth of vouchers.

Mercifully the take-up for this first run was not overwhelming, as it was tricky to organise on the VLE, but we hope that teachers will find it a useful tool in the classroom come September.

Backwell School WBN Events 2014


Snip20140516_3Last year, Backwell School Librarian, Anne Gibson was chosen to give Ness’s The knife of never letting go to teachers at her school (knowing they have little time to read for pleasure and concerned that they didn’t know how far teenage literature has come). Inspired by the runaway success of her actions (just about all teachers returned to the library desperate to borrow the following two books in the series and saying they had passed the book onto family and students) she decided to tackle 6th formers this year. Thrilled to see Matt Haig’s The Humans on the list, she encouraged four teachers to join her in applying to be “givers”. Each chose their favorite title which they also thought would appeal to 6th formers who are rarely seen reading for pleasure about school. She publicized the lunchtime event on the common room plasma screen and assembly on the day, setting up a display with sweets to encourage takers in the common room. Unbelievably, 10 minutes later it was all over! The only things left on the stand were a few sweets! Two weeks later and students are telling staff what they enjoyed and who they have passed their book onto. Anne also received a surprise call from Elodie and Joshua’s granny asking to “give” WBN book, The Recruit by Robert Muchamore to boys in school as her granddaughter had told her that they are not keen readers! Mr Conkie’s marvelous Random Generator was used during a Y7 assembly to choose lucky recipients, both boys and girls (as we couldn’t think of a fairer way!). Library staff have noticed Robert Muchamore’s books disappearing from the shelves as a result and one girl told us she was borrowing for her Mum!! Next year Anne is planning to ask staff to be Community Givers, by donating a book from their own library to students in their tutor groups or houses. She aims to package them attractively to heighten interest. (Brown paper bags and badges are going to feature!) This will leave more books on the website for you to apply for. She thoroughly recommends having a go and encouraging staff and students to share and talk about books. The effects will last for weeks.  If you want to see more about Backwell School’s reading journey, visit their fantastic blog.