Library re-opens in school – Carterton College in Oxford.

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!’

Barbara Band speaks up for school libraries

Watch this TES web chat where school librarian Barbara Band, who organised the recent Mass Lobby of Parliament speaks up for school librarians and puts the case for keeping libraries in the heart of every school.  And watch out for a mention of this website round around the 10 minute mark – what we say and do on this website is important in advocacy, so please keep your stories coming in!

School Librarians lobby Parliament!


The day finally came – the day that school librarians in the UK lobbied Parliament about making school libraries statutory, and inspected by Ofsted (thus ensuring that schools had libraries and librarians). School Librarians in Scotland lobbied their Parliament on Saturday 27th, as they were not on half term this week, and School Librarians in the rest of the UK lobbied Parliament on 29th October.  It was a momentous day, with authors joining the lobby, and even Guardian books tweeting about the day.  Those who couldn’t go tweeted about the day, and showed their support.  To read a Storify of these tweets, go to this link:  Not every tweet from the day was there, as many of them were asking for support, but the story of the day in tweets and pictures is there.  As you can see from the tweets, some good stuff was done with MP’s, and some promises made.  It is not too late to contact your MP and ask to meet him in surgery, or just put your point over in a letter.  As many MP’s around the country should be contacted – we need to ride this wave.  The lobby doesn’t end today – lets keep up the pressure.  One of the greatest blogs of the day came from Jeff Norton, who completely ‘gets’ what school libraries are about.  With especial thanks to Barbara Band, newly appointed CILIP Vice President, for her enthusiasm and initiative, and Elizabeth Bentley for ensuring that everyone was kitted out in the fabulous T shirts.  If you want to add comments or congratulations the the Facebook page, here it is.  Enjoy the tweeted story of the day, and keep up the good work!

The cartoon was drawn for the day by Sarah McIntyre, and was used by kind permission.  It depicts Sarah and Philip Ardargh on the campaign trail.  Sarah’s great blog post about the day with some wonderful photos is here.

Write Path International

It’s the time of year to sign up to the amazing collaborative storywriting experience that is WritePath:  This innovative event first took place in 2008, the brainchild of then school librarian (now consultant) Bev Humphrey.  Last year 56 schools took part from all over the world, and it was an amazing interactive blogging experience.  Everyone who takes part is amazed at how enthused the students are about writing and creating stories.  If you haven’t taken part yet then head over to the website to find out more and to sign up.  You can be anywhere in the world – the further the better!  Hope to see you on there this year!

Excelsior Award winners

The winners of the second Stan Lee Excelsior Award have been announced – see the website for details:  This is only the second year that this award has won, but 57 schools took part and it is rapidly becoming one of the big events of the school year.  The author of the winning book, Tom Taylor, was thrilled and tweeted about getting the award.  This is an inspirational and unique award, the brainchild of school librarian Paul Register.  If your school did not take part this year, perhaps you will consider taking part next year.  The role of graphic novels/comics in children’s reading has long been neglected and ignored; Paul with his award has pushed it right to the front and shown how credible reading these books can be.  All of the books in the shortlist deserve a place in any school library – have a look at the website for more details and an interview with Paul himself.

Have your say on public libraries

Voices for the Library, a public library campaigning group, is keen to gather ideas for what a 21st century library service should look like.  As school librarians are experts in the field of teenage readers – as well as usually being keen library users ourselves – our views on public libraries would be invaluable.  So please follow the link to their site, and join the Facebook page, to join the very interesting discussions taking place around this subject.

School Librarian’s winning TES entry

School librarian John Iona won the World Book Day 2012 competition in the TES. Competing against teachers, he won the prize for an innovative resource about the performance poet BRIES.  See more details about John and the competition here 

John says: “This lesson was put together as an introduction to the poet BREIS, who visited the school to perform for years 7 and 8 in celebration of World Book Day.  Learning objective for the lesson was to get pupils to think about poetry, and the way in which poetry can come alive when read aloud.  The lesson was delivered by English teachers during year 8 English lessons, and myself during year 7 Library lessons.”

John has kindly agreed to provide us with the powerpoint and the lesson plan which he used, and these can be accessed in the Best Practice document folder to the right of this page.