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.

 

Reading Flip Guides

This beautifully simple. yet effective idea was shared on the internet mailing group SLN, and I immediately asked the librarian, Gavin Jones from Melbourne Girls Grammar, if I could share this with all of you.  Gavin runs the website Read it! Loved it!  and tweets about his love of books at @readitlovedit 

The flipguides are a beautifully simple way for pupils to be independent in finding books, yet under the remote guidance of the librarian.  They are simple and cheap to put together, and easy to add and take away books from once made.  Laminated, they are durable and will survive much handling.  Gavin has agreed to share his template with us, so that everyone can build their own guides, and it can be found here on his website, where examples of the flipguides he has already built can be found.  If you do find this useful, a shout out to Gavin on Twitter would be great!

2018 Book Advent Calendars

Sarah Masters, of Thomas Deacon Academy, usually kicks off the Christmas season on Heart by sending me her powerpoint Advent calendars, which she sends round to all tutors in December.  This year, we have two from her, one for seniors and one for juniors.  Enjoy!

The Senior calendar is too large to show in a preview, but you can download it with this link:Advent calendar 2018

And for the Juniors – the download link is under the presentation

Bear Hunt Summer Reading Challenge

Librarian Rosie Pike from Bishop’s Stortford College wrote to me about the wonderful Summer Reading Challenge she ran.  It attracted 25 entries from pupils between years 3 and 6. She writes:

‘It was based on We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and there were 8 different challenges to complete. Photos of the work have been displayed in the library since the beginning of the term.Photo diaries of travelling bears have seen them captured  in places as far afield as the top of Ben Nevis, theatre shows in London, Lanzarote, and an unknown journey which looks remarkably like being back at school!  Equally impressive are the many different versions of the Michael Rosen poem, which see them going on a ghost hunt, a person hunt or a hare hunt. All of the pupils were awarded a certificate and prize.’

 

Combating Far Right views with Literature

If you are concerned about the rise of the far-right and fundamentalist views, and wish to point out books in your library that counter this worrying trend, or create a display around this topic, that Matt Imrie (@mattlibrarian) who writes the Teen Librarian newsletter, has crowdsourced a list of books that you can use in displays or point out to students.  Find it here.

You can also read the latest copy of Teen Librarian here – it is well worth signing up to this to get Matt’s great monthly newsletter – always good value.  And his website has lots of great posters for school libraries as well!

 

Harry Potter in many languages!

Jennifer Lees from Wolverhampton Girls’ High School tells us about her school’s obsession with Harry Potter – and how she became obsessed too!

‘The students at our school are OBSESSED with Harry Potter. When I first started 2 years ago (having never worked in a school library before) they were incredulous to hear that I had never read any of the books and from that day forth made it their mission to ‘encourage’ (or browbeat) me to get on board. I eventually did, and obviously fell in love with the whole series. A few weeks ago I ended up taking part in a Harry Potter quiz at a local arts centre. It turned out that a team of Sixth Form library ‘regulars’ from school were also taking part. I immediately knew my team was scuppered  – the girls won, of course! I thought you might be interested to see how our prefect has used the series to highlight different aspects of our library collection, even though we don’t have much space.”

 

hp-1 hp-2

Library lessons – designing a Library

 

School Librarian Kim Davis from Fort Pitt School in Chatham recently shared her excellent lesson plan for getting pupils to think about libraries and their purpose.  This is what Kim said about her innovative activity:

‘I thought that possibly some of [the students] would have only experienced one type of library and that might have formed their impression of all libraries. We did a little library history, looking a bit at the great Library in Alexandria and why it was so important, the concept of chained books and then Carnegie libraries- how books were made accessible.

We also looked at cool libraries around the world- a pop up library on Bondi beach, Biblo Toyen in Oslo and Stuttgart’s crisp white cube library. Finally we looked at an infographic of weird things some libraries loan and also a meme about what librarians do.

The students sourced their own materials, although I kept some boxes aside in case. They were allowed to present it in any way they wanted so some just drew a picture, others presented me a floor plan and one even used design software to create the library. … one of the libraries[was] made of post-its as that was all they had at home! One created an eco-friendly library using their recycling. They didn’t have any lesson time but they had a month after the presentation to complete.’

The libraries are lovely, and what a great way to get pupils really thinking about the function of a library!

The Tri-Wizard Tournament: World Book Day Festival 2016

Debbie Kennedy, the Librarian at Wilmington Academy wrote to tell me of an amazing event her school held for World Book Day:Hogwarts teachers

‘Each year the Director of Literacy and myself choose a theme relating to the wonderful world of books and hold a “Festival” for two weeks around World Book Day. The aim of these festivals is to not only promote literacy but to allow students to use a variety of other skills including creative thinking and problem solving. 
Last year we held our very own ‘Hunger Games’ which centered around the Trilogy and we won both the Dartford District and Kent Regional Literacy awards for “The Most Engaging Book Week Theme.”

So this year’s theme needed to be even bigger and better and after a lot of deliberation we chose the Harry Potter series, turning our Academy into Hogwart’s to hold a Tri-Wizard Tournament.
It certainly was the best festival so far.  We held a series of challenges including a Horcrux Treasure Hunt, Quidditch Cup, Magical Spelling Bee and Wizarding Trivia Duels, as well as setting a task for each tutor group to prepare a series of relics.  The relics included designing their own wizarding school, a founder’s wand, school uniform and a Marauder’s map.
Students competed for points for their tutor group and of course the glory of becoming a wizarding champion.   
We also held a Care of Magical Creatures Workshop for KS3 students with Eagle Heights bringing along their birds of prey (eagle, hawk, peregrine falcon and owl). The fantasy author Sara Grant was also invited along to hold Creative Writing Workshops.Hogwarts owl
Once again we have been nominated for the most engaging book week theme so fingers crossed.
For more in depth detail of our event please see below.