Jennie Paton, Librarian at Plumstead Manor, held a very special celebration at the end of last year. This is what she told me:
Plumstead Manor is a London girl’s school with a little under 1500 students and last term at PML we noticed our students were on the verge of doing something spectacular: they were well on their way to borrowing 20,000 resources in just one year! Well, we couldn’t not celebrate, could we? We had high hopes and lots of plans but with the end of term approaching we had to settle on just three of our original schemes. So, we chose one idea which would reward the whole school, one to celebrate our best readers, and one that would let us share our student’s love of books with the world.
To reward the whole school we allowed students, much to their delight, to take a book over the summer holidays. It might not sound like much, many schools do it every year, but after years of books lost in exotic locales it was quite a leap for us (and were waiting with baited breath to see how many we get back!). There’s nothing like getting a cheer from a class full of year 8’s when you tell them they can read more, that is what they mean by ‘reading culture’!
To reward our best readers and our regular visitors we gave awards for some of the more (and less) obvious achievements, most books borrowed, most reviews written, biggest otaku; and prizes for the borrower of every 500th book until we reached our total. Students loved checking our totaliser in the school reception every day to find out if they were the umpteenth-hundreth borrower.
The hardest and most ambitious part of our celebration however is the one that is going to continue to be the most rewarding for years to come: we decided to Bookcross (www.bookcrossing.com) 100 of our school’s favourite books of all time! Bookcrossing lets you ‘release’ a book into the wild and track its journey wherever it goes.
Leading up to the last week of term we sent surveys to every form group and every member of staff asking them to nominate their top ten books of all time and let us know why they were so great. Then we had a couple of weeks to work out the top 100 (surprise, surprise John Green got a lot of votes), find the books, and get them all labeled up ready for their adventures.
On the last Wednesday of term our Readers’ Club headed out to London with many bags of books, to drop off as many as we could at landmarks around the city. We live tweeted our whole adventure (@pmschoollib) and the girls, and even some of the authors loved it! Cathy Cassidy sent her followers straight out to find the copy of Cherry Crush we hid in Leicester Square! Though I think by far the best moment of the day was outside the Tower of London, when the girls spotted a couple picking up the book we had just left. They were ecstatic!
Anyone else have comparable figures? I would be very pleased to loan out half as many books!