In amongst all the stories about school libraries closing, I was sent this good news story by Rosemary Stables, Head of English in Carterton College. This is her story – and isn’t it great to be able to report on school libraries reopening in some schools! And what a beautiful, funky library it is – I bet the students love it!
‘Our library at Carterton Community College in Oxfordshire was closed four years ago by a previous Head who wanted the space for an Engineering suite. The library was moved to a much smaller (and clearly unsatisfactory) room. Much of the non-fiction was disposed of. Our librarian left. This smaller room was then needed for another purpose so the remaining book stock was put into storage.
We tried to maintain a focus on reading for pleasure in the school (I was Head of English here at the time). But this was never going to be easy without a library and a full-time librarian with specialist knowledge of books for young people.
In the meantime, the Head who made the original closure decision had left the school. We now have a different Head who believes in the value of libraries, books and reading. With the support of the governors, he decided we needed to restore the library. I was really excited about this project and I moved out of my role in the English Department in order to run it. But I’m not a trained librarian and have been very grateful for advice from local school library staff, the SLA and others.
We started with an empty room, took the old books out of storage and talked to the students about what sort of library they might like. As the room isn’t huge, flexibility became our key word, so we have furniture that can be moved around easily. Students wanted colours that were quite cool and funky – so we went for grey with splashes of lime green, purple and orange. Reactions have been really positive. There are plenty of new books on the shelves now (although we still need many more). We have new ICT equipment, access to a small garden, and messages, posters and books from supportive authors.
On 11th September 2012 the new library was formally opened by Sir Tim Brighouse. We know this is only the first stage and there is a massive task ahead to restore a reading culture here. But it’s great to have a good news story to tell!’