Using Microsoft Sway to raise the profile of the library

School Librarian Barbara Ferramosca tells us about her initiative in using Microsoft Sway to promote her library in King’s College School.

My library has recently started to use the Microsoft app Sway as a way to promote our books and library resources with great success: as a Librarian I have always felt that our OPAC/Library Management System or the VLE used in school were not quite the right tools for the job and we needed to find something more in keeping with the times. Sway is the answer that I was looking for.

The app Sway is Microsoft’s response to the popularity of Prezi and it is part of our school Office 365 package. It is basically a more fun and visually appealing version of PowerPoint. It is very user-friendly too because it requires little training to create something that looks professional and bring together different types of media in one platform.

Here are some examples of our Sways:
https://sway.office.com/l6vBhYnB9d43OeUh?ref=Link
https://sway.office.com/7UndbOsdUSKCNBLm?ref=Link
https://sway.office.com/lzD0Eq0im28sTO2C?ref=Link

These Sways display without any problems on all types of phones too: the text and images automatically adapt to the size of the mobile phone screens.

What did we want to achieve?

Marketing and Raising the profile of the library. Sway can be easily embedded on Facebook and on Twitter: I have always wanted to use social media to promote new books and our recommendations but I have never been able to do so because I found that running a library account was very time-consuming and I could never quite ascertain the impact of my efforts towards lending figures, for example. Now we send our weekly Sways to the school marketing team so that I can use the school social media channels instead: a quick survey with our students has reassured me that students tend to follow the school Twitter account anyway for more practical reasons (i.e. info about sport fixtures, music or drama events, etc.) so this was a guaranteed way to reach them. Using the school account has another benefit too: it raises the profile of our library and we can also regularly highlight our expertise to the school community (including SMT), our parents and other possible stakeholders such as governors, ex-pupils and the general public. Finally, on a more practical level, we are helping the school marketing team who are really grateful as they sometimes struggle to find materials or information to publish on social media.

Promotion. Sway is a brilliant tool to promote the library books in a new and more exciting way because it is a very visual tool for a very visual generation. The following are just some examples of what we have been able to do:

– Booklists with book covers, quick blurbs and hyperlinks to Amazon. We quickly discounted hyperlinks to our library OPAC for these reasons: students are already familiar with Amazon and use it much more often than our library catalogue; they can read the book reviews about the book and even the beginning of the book before making the decision to borrow the book. It just works.

– Students like to discover what their peers/friends like to read so now I am finally able to add these peer-recommendations or the top ten books of the week for example. Beforehand, I used to display these recommendations on displays or on the library shelves but it always felt like a lot of work for a small audience overall. I have given my pupil librarians the task of creating book reviews in podcast form so we will be adding these soon: it will be another way to integrate peer-recommendations into our newsletter.

– I finally have a way  to add video book trailers from Youtube or even podcasts – I have never found a way to use them until now. A lot of publishers produce trailers for new books and they can be extremely successful at catching the attention of a reader. The feedback from the students has been extremely positive – they REALLY like the trailers.

There are so many other possibilities that we have not yet fully explored: in our first Sway, we created galleries of students’ artwork based on their summer reading. It is worth exploring this app to see how it can work for your library.

Library lessons. In our school, the English department is keen to bring their classes in the library for students to read or choose a new book. We found that sometimes students are lost when faced with so much choice around the library, especially the more reluctant readers. Creating regular Sways has provided a new format for these particular lessons. The week before October half-term, we invited all the Year 9 classes to the library and asked the students to go online (either on their phones or using our computers) and just browse/read/listen/watch our last two to three Sways. It was a success especially as the teacher made clear that they were expected to borrow a book by the end of the lesson. They responded well to the combination of clear expectation and also to the fact that they could freely explore. It did not feel prescriptive because they had so much choice. I am now treating each Sway with the same care and attention as I would every lesson: I try to think about the audience that I want to target and then add content appropriately.

Final considerations. Making our Sways on a weekly basis works for us for the reasons explained above. Overall, creating a weekly Sway can be very time-consuming so this is why I think that it is extremely important to use it in as many different ways as possible. The amount of effort invested into creating each Sway needs to strategically work in several different ways to make it worth it. However, as we all know, every school is its own micro-cosmos so what works for us may not necessarily be possible for another librarian. Sway is just a brilliant new tool in the Librarian’s arsenal to reach our school community in a different way.

 

The January Challenge from 64 Million artists

I asked this organisation to write a blog post about their initiative, because it sounded so wonderful, and I know a lot of you would love to take part in this!

‘Cultivating an open and accessible culture of learning? Encouraging creativity and collaboration? Developing dynamic spaces for staff and students to experiment and have fun together?

Have you heard about The January Challenge?

64 Million Artists believe everyone is creative, and when we use our creativity we can make positive change in our lives and the world around us. We think school libraries are amazing. And, as spaces of creativity and community, libraries make a very happy and inspiring home for The January Challenge.

Creativity is already in our lives, sometimes it just needs a little spark to wake it up or a quick reminder that it’s easy to access. That’s why in January, a month notorious for making us feel blue, we run The January Challenge – free and fun creative challenges every day for 31 days. The idea is simple. For each day in January we set a short creative challenge which only takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The challenge might be to write a poem about Mondays, to doodle to music, think your way around a problem or make something taller than you. It is a fun, quick and accessible way to get creative – and getting creative is good for you.

In 2019, over 15,000 people across the country took part. Over 95% of those surveyed said it had a positive impact on their wellbeing. Creative challenges took place in schools, hospitals, libraries, theatres, offices, community centres and homes across the country. We heard about flash mobs in school canteens, paper aeroplanes flying around libraries and friendships born online, and over a cuppa.

We have recently partnered with UCL Division of Psychology and Life Sciences to find out if our online creativity programmes really impacted symptoms of stress depression and anxiety and the overall wellbeing of our participants.

The research results found a ‘clinically meaningful’ increase in participants’ wellbeing and an overall decrease in symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Interview data also reflected that participants felt their well, supported and socially connected by taking part in simple creative activities online. Read the short report here.

Unlock the key to wellbeing in your school. Use The January Challenge to boost collaboration, connection and creativity for both staff and students. School libraries make an excellent ‘hub’ for Challenges – but they could also be used in staff meetings, tutor time, lunchtime clubs, in lessons! How could you use them in your school?

The January Challenge is free to take part in, and we offer optional extras to help you champion creativity across your whole school. Find all the information you need here, or get in touch at jemima@64millionartists.com. ‘

 

National Survey Results – Could do better!

School Librarians deliver their report card to Education Minister Nick Gibb.

Key findings include:

  • 9 in 10 schools in England that participated in the research have access to a designated library space, falling to 67% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland however;
  • Schools with a higher proportion of students on free school meals are more than twice as likely not to have access to a designated library space;
  • Employment terms for librarians and library staff fall below national standards, with low pay and little investment in professional development and training.

 

Commenting on the publication of the research, Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP said: ” We welcome this landmark report as the first comprehensive picture of the state of play in our school libraries. On the one hand, it is a testament to the Head Teachers, Governors, Teachers and Librarians that value and promote the importance of school libraries for their learners and their schools. On the other hand the research paints a picture of inequality of access and opportunity and insecure employment that we cannot accept. The findings highlight the urgency of securing a national School Libraries Strategies and investment in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, drawing on the example of Scotland.”

To find out more about the Great School Libraries Campaign, please visit their website: www.greatschoollibraries.org.uk

BBC Young Reporter Competiton

BBC Young Reporter is an excellent way for your students to get involved in the whole topic of information literacy and fake news, whilst also having the chance to enter a competition for their voices to be heard on the radio.   Josie Verghese who is Head of Young Reporter told me:

“BBC Young Reporter works in partnership with schools, colleges and youth organisations to provide young people with the skills they need to create and understand the media. It is an opportunity for 11-18 year olds to develop media skills, news literacy and share their own stories with the BBC.  Educational establishments and youth organisations taking part will benefit from access to exclusive events, training and resources, as well as mentoring and career talks from BBC staff and journalists.

The BBC Young Reporter Competition is a chance for anyone aged 11-18 to suggest a story idea that they think the BBC should be telling – original untold stories that reflect young people’s personal experiences, insights or their community or about a subject that really matters to them.  There are two categories, “My Life” and “Our World” and young people can upload their ideas online – as a text or a video or audio clip. It isn’t about creating a finished piece; at this stage we just need an outline of their idea.

 The closing date is Sunday 26 October and all the details and the link to upload a story idea is www.bbc.co.uk/youngreportercompetition 

In addition, we have some specific news literacy online resources (including video masterclasses and some suggested lesson / activity plans) which you can view via www.bbc.co.uk/realnews

There is also an interactive learning BBC iReporter game which puts the player in the role of a journalist working at the heart of the newsroom during a breaking news story: www.bbc.co.uk/ireporter (usable on any computer, tablet or smartphone).”

I know that some of you will already be using this, but it is new to me – as are the news literacy resources, which are excellent.  If your school gains a place and you would like to share this story with Heart, please get in touch.  #GreatSchoolLibraries

Riding the Book Bus to Zambia

Jackie Rice, JCoSS LRC Manager spent two and a half weeks of the summer holiday in Zambia, Southern Africa, volunteering with a charity called The Book Bus. This is a review of her experiences.

During the summer break I spent two and a half weeks with The Book Bus charity in Livingstone, Zambia. I first heard about The Book Bus a few years ago when reading a report from one of the volunteers. The report explained how volunteers travel to Zambia to take part in a literacy project, driving out every day on Book Bus Charlie to schools in rural areas. Elephants and giraffes can be seen from the bus on the way to the schools. Combining a literacy project and an adventure – I knew that I wanted, if possible, to join the team on that bus!

 This year my plan was realised. An exhilarating and life-changing trip was about to begin. Travelling with a fellow Barnet librarian, we flew via Johannesburg and on to Livingstone. Our suitcases, safely stashed in the hold, were bursting with books and craft materials. We were met by members of The Book Bus Zambia team and settled into our accommodation.

During the holiday programme which runs in Livingstone from June to September, international volunteers join the Zambian team.  The team works with teachers to introduce books in English to children aged from 3-16 years of age – some older children are still completing their primary level. We would travel to rural primary schools, share books and stories and literacy-related activities such as singing, arts and crafts and playing games. The programme aims to make reading books a fun and enjoyable activity.  The children were always excited by the arrival of the bus and books. Some children will walk or run 15 miles each way to reach school.

Twice a week we also visited a Book Bus supported library where we could read one to one with the children and sing songs. Again, the children were filled with joy and delight to see the bus arriving. The volunteers are accepted as part of The Book Bus community and greeted warmly.  In contrast the library had few shelves and a small number of very well read books.  On returning to our accommodation we prepared for the next day’s classes, choosing the books, songs and craft activities. Sometimes we experienced a power or water cut as the government regulated scarce resources.

Why Zambia?

Zambia is one of the poorest nations in the world with more than half of the population living below the poverty line. Over half of the population are under 18 years of age, and most people live in rural areas. Although there are over 75 local languages, English is Zambia’s official language – learning to speak and read in English massively increases a child’s life chances. However, most children do not complete their primary level education.

Tom Maschler, a publisher in the UK, travelled to Zambia in 2006 and saw first hand the scarcity of books in remote areas. Teachers and community leaders welcomed the idea of a Book Bus. In 2008, the first Book Bus, with 5000 books on board, left London for Zambia. The bus was beautifully decorated with illustrations by Sir Quentin Blake. Since then staff at The Book Bus have built relationships with school teachers in communities which have very few books or resources. These are all provided for the programme by The Book Bus.

The harsh reality of life in Zambia was brought home to us as we visited a traditional village beside one of the schools we were working with. The riverbed was dry as the rains had failed. The villagers could therefore not grow their crops which they rely on to sell at market. They had to pay for fuel to work the pump to raise the water they need from deep in the ground. Only 17 miles away, back at our accommodation in Livingstone, the grounds were being watered daily to look attractive.

The Book Bus programme has been extremely successful so far. The UK based charity now operates all year round in Malawi, Zambia and Ecuador and has five buses. Since 2008 the charity has worked with over 200 schools, reaching 100,000 children. Literacy programmes are being expanded and reading levels and school attendances have improved.

Zambia is a beautiful country and volunteers have the opportunity to visit the Victoria Falls, the greatest curtain of falling water in the world, and see the sunset on the Zambezi River. You can also see stunning wildlife by taking a local trip see rhinos, elephants and giraffes or simply by looking out of the window of the bus each day. Highlights of the trip for me: meeting and becoming friends with the Zambian team – such gracious, dedicated and kind people; making a positive contribution to literacy in Zambia in such an enjoyable way; getting to know the children and being greeted with such joy as the Book Bus arrives; seeing three elephants take turns to swim across a river; swimming in the Devil’s Pool at the top of the Victoria Falls; spotting two giraffes standing on a roundabout. This was an unforgettable experience and one I will always treasure.

Does this sound like a project you would like to get involved with? I would recommend the experience to anyone of any age. For further information about The Book Bus, to volunteer in Zambia, or donate go to www.thebookbus.org

Contact me if you require any further encouragement to volunteer.

Jackie Rice  September 2019

 

Open Evening leaflet

It’s the time of year when Open Evenings are happening, and a great time to promote school libraries to your parents.  SLG have produced a good leaflet to give to parents and governors.  Maybe you can emphasize what your school offers and invite them to use the leaflet to compare with other schools they are going around.  Get some good questioning going and support #GreatSchoolLibraries!  You can download the leaflet here: 

 

 

Phil’s amazing offer!

As you may know, Phil Bradley retired at the beginning of this year, but fortunately it’s still possible to make use of his expertise. He has produced two courses in video format aimed at information professionals, Apps for Librarians and Advanced Internet Searching. Each course consists of 40 or more videos covering different aspects of the appropriate subject. The apps course covers subject areas such as browsers, guiding tools, making videos, multimedia tools, news apps, photography apps, presentation apps and so on. In fact, everything that you need in order to get the absolute most out of your smart phone or tablet, and versions of apps for both IOS and Android are included. The good news is that Phil has made this resource entirely free of charge for personal use. Simply visit his wiki at http://appsforlibrarians.pbworks.com/ and dig in!
The second video course on Advanced Internet Searching covers exactly that. There are a lot of videos on how to get the best out of Google, alternatives to Google, image search engines, multimedia searching, videos on specific search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Yandex. Phil also covers social media searching, multi search engines and much more. This collection is available for personal use for a one off fee of £20, and you will have complete access to the collection indefinitely. Phil is happy for you to use the videos in your own teaching sessions, and simply asks that you do not use them in any commercial form. If you want to know more, or wish to purchase the collection, email Phil at philipbradley@gmail.com for payment details.

Great School Libraries Campaign – questionnaire on the way!

School libraries aren’t statutory, and in the UK no one knows how many there are, or if they are staffed or funded. The Great School Libraries campaign is a three-year campaign which aims to change this – collecting data about school libraries as well as working towards securing school library funding; producing a national framework for school libraries and recognition of school libraries within Ofsted.

It is about ensuring that all children receive the benefits a school library can provide. To watch a video about the impact of a school library click here.

For more information about the campaign, or to sign up as a supporter, visit: http://greatschoollibraries.edublogs.org/

We are conducting a sector-wide survey of primary and secondary schools to better understand the level of provision of both learning resources and staff responsible for them. As you know, there is currently no definitive information on how schools are resourced – something we want to change. We would appreciate your help in gathering this information to provide a clearer picture of the situation and would be grateful if you could complete a short questionnaire.

Your responses will be treated in the strictest confidence and BMG Research, who are conducting the survey on our behalf, abides by the Market Research Society Code of Conduct at all times.

The survey will be sent to schools shortly and will be open between Monday 25th February to Friday 29thMarch. If you want to make sure this survey has been completed on behalf of your school please do get in touch with Jamie Lawson, Research Executive at BMG Research, via e-mail at Jamie.Lawson@bmgresearch.co.uk. Alternatively, you can contact him via phone at 0121 333 6006.

If you are interested in finding out more information about the Great School Libraries Campaign, please contact Alison Tarrant, Chair of the GSL working group via e-mail at info@sla.org.uk

Reblogged from the SLA website with permission.