A day in the life of Sarah Seddon, School Librarian at The Piggott School, Wargrave
7:55 Arrive at school and go to take off my coat and put my bag away. Already there are half a dozen pupils in the library, mainly Years 7 and 8. I cannot lock the library door, and I have never yet found out exactly what time it is opened up in the morning. After switching on my computer at the desk, I check the kettle has water in and boil it for my first fresh cup of coffee for the day.
By now the library is pretty busy with about 60 pupils. This is the one free access time that I do not have any staff support. The library is popular with those who want to shelter from the cold and the rain. Some are doing homework and using computers and the printer. Some are reading quietly and others are chatting and standing around in groups. I ask them to leave if they are just socialising and standing in large groups. They never quite take on board that I object to them sitting on tables; eating is also a no-no. Lots of pupils want to return and take out books. A queue of children is building up – they all want to buy protractors, compasses, rulers, pencils and other items of stationery which we sell at cost price.
8:40 The official bell for registration is due to go in 5 minutes time, so I ring my old-fashioned hand bell as a warning for them to tidy up and log off the computers. By the time the official bell has been rung, the library is looking a little untidy with books and newspapers on the floor and chairs out of place.
9:05 My first English class of the day arrives, a Year 7 group. The class has a cover teacher and I have been asked to run a library activity for them. We start with a library bingo treasure hunt, and then use one of Sarah Pavey’s lesson ideas for the first time: starting with the word ‘happy’ I ask them to use a variety of dictionaries and thesauri to find meanings of the word and create a spider diagram looking up all the definitions they can find and extending it to find unexpected links. The most amusing meaning which one group finds is ‘slightly drunk.’
10:05 Second English class of the day also with a cover teacher. This is a Year 9 class and I give them a worksheet to help them plan their research, think about plagiarism and explore different types of resource. I am pleasantly surprised by pupils who usually cause me grief at lunch-times.
By this time my part-time assistant, Alissa has arrived. Today she is working 10:00-2:00 as she is covering the lunch break for me so that I can run my book club. Usually she works 9:30-1:30. Alissa is calm and efficient and deals with the issue desk for most of the time, as well as doing some cataloguing and a wonderful job of shelving and tidying the books.
11:05 A noisy break-time with lots of pupils taking out and returning books. This is always easier when Alissa is working, as she deals with the issue desk and I can help pupils in the library looking for books or having problems with computers. There is also a duty teacher to help manage behaviour.
11:25 I make myself another cup of coffee and take it back to my desk. I then spend some time checking my plans for World Book Day, writing lists and sending out relevant e-mails.
1:20 Unusually today, Alissa is are running the library at lunch-time, with the help of the usual duty teacher. The library is always busy and a shelter from bad weather at lunch-times. I go to one of the English classrooms for Book Club. Today we have a fun discussion based on ‘Desert Island Discs’ and discuss book characters and books we’d like to be marooned on a desert island with. Next week we’ll be getting back to talking about the books nominated for the ‘Berkshire Book Award.’
1:50 I have about ten minutes to eat my lunch in my work room behind the issue desk. Usually I take half an hour, but today I have agreed to take part in the Year 8 English lesson. I am using some Shakespeare worksheets from one of the helpful ‘Carel Press’ books. These activities are always done using books from the library shelves. Fortunately the teachers are as keen as I am to encourage the pupils to use books for their research. It is quite a lively class. They are trying to find the source for some well-known lines from plays. As they are currently studying ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ I cannot resist telling them that I was a singing fairy in an open-air production a few years ago. I agree to bring in the DVD for them to watch, as they are so keen.
3:00 The school day has finished and we are open for an hour after school. Rachel, an associate teacher, comes to help supervise the library after school and run an informal home-work club. Many of the pupils are just waiting for lifts from parents, but we are happy with that as long as they read or get on with their home-work. I ask Rachel to cover for me whilst I try to finish eating my lunch.
3:30 We have a problem with some Year 8 boys who cannot get the hang of sitting quietly in the library. They have been cooking today and decide it is a great idea to sample the results in the library, as well as talking loudly and being very cheeky. I decide to take the matter further, and Rachel suggests I e-mail the Head of Year about their behaviour. She e-mails me back half an hour later and promises to tell them that they are banned for a week. The ban only applies when they are on free time (all Year 7-9s have English lessons in the library).
4:00 Time to go home! I ask the few remaining pupils to log off, tidy up and go home. I cannot actually lock up, so don’t worry about what happens after I have left. I always leave on time, as my husband is my chauffeur, and I never take work home. It is not life or death!