Dear Justine Greening – please save our school libraries!

Today a missive has been fired in the battle to try and halt the fast rate at which school libraries are closing.  With school budgets increasingly squeezed, it is very often that school librarians find they are suffering.  ‘Best’ case scenario is that the school library finds that it has no operating budget, and so pupils are left without access to the latest and best children’s books, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal books.  Worst case, the library is closed, or they make the librarian redundant and let the ‘library’ stumble on as a room full of books.  For of course, as we all know, a room full of books doesn’t become a library until and unless it has a skilled practitioner at the helm.  And a budget!

Former school librarian, author, and past CILIP President Dawn Finch had had enough.  After one particularly poignant tweet she decided to contact Nick Poole, the CEO of CILIP, and together they drafted a letter to Justine Greening.  As Chair of CILIP’s School Libraries Group I was also contacted, and was very proud to be a signatory to the letter.  At about five yesterday there were about 20 signatures.  Just before he went into a meeting Nick Poole tweeted that he wondered if any more authors would like to join in and sign.  When he turned his phone on after the meeting. Nick said ‘twitter had melted!‘ By the time the letter was published this morning, there were 150 signatures.  But authors have continued to tweet their support, and so the list of those who support school libraries is growing. The Bookseller also wrote a great piece in support of the cause.

The letter has now been sent to Justine Greening, and you can read the full text of it here.  There is so much more to add – as others have pointed out, we haven’t even touched on the role that librarians play in digital literacy yet, or in wellbeing.  But first things first!

There is also a hashtag going around called #schoollibrariesmatter. Please tweet using this hashtag.  Follow @NickPoole1 @dawnafinch and @CILIPSLG to retweet all the wonderful replies.  Let’s give this legs!

Finally, for a piece of work connected to this, Nick Poole has asked me to collect data around the running costs of STATE school libraries.  Please could you add your data to this Google Document. It is completely anonymous – all we want is Salary+budget  and County.  If more than one librarian included in that salary please indicate, and if zero budget please indicate too.

Thank you all!

 

UKEd nomination for best Educational blog!

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I am proud to announce that Heart of the School has been nominated as one of the best Educational Blogs in 2016!  This is in UKEd Magazine, and the blog is featured alongside teacher’s blogs.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed stories to Heart – all your hard work has been acknowledged!  Please do keep your contributions coming in – everything from lessons you teach on information literacy to displays you put up.  It is really important to show the breadth of things that school librarians do – we don’t just stamp books, we have a vital role to play in educating children.  If you wish to read the UKEd magazine with the nomination in, then you can download it from here.  Thank you everyone – and keep it coming!  We passionately want to show that school librarians make a difference to every school!

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Programme

This year, nanowrimoin my school, we plan to take part in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.  There is a Young Writer’s Programme for the under-18’s.  So I have created my Virtual Classroom, added in the participating students and their teacher, and await November 1st to see how it all pans out.  Has anyone else taken part in this with their students?  How did it go for you?  Leave a comment!

Here’s the website if you want to join in too: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/

Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award

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The Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award is a joint venture between the School Library Association and the CILIP School Libraries Group. As well as promoting the work and achievements of pupils within their school libraries, work which involves dedication and commitment but which often goes unnoticed and unrewarded, it also highlights the benefits and values of the school librarian.

Do you have a pupil librarian who could become the Pupil Librarian of the Year 2017?

Someone who is reliable, volunteers regularly and who has made a difference to the library, being a role model for others?

Someone who is an example of the synergy between a school library and the pupils?

Why not nominate them?

Watch out for more details when the award opens on September 19th

The award is supported by a number of leading children’s books publishers and the company, Authors Aloud UK, and judged by a panel of leading figures from the children’s book world and school library community.

For further information including nomination forms, contact details and sponsorship: http://libpupilaward.wixsite.com/home

About the CILIP School Libraries Group

The School Libraries Group (SLG) of CILIP affirms that school libraries and school library services are fundamental to the development of a literate population able to participate fully in a thriving democracy, culture, civilization and economy. www.cilip.org.uk/slg

About the School Library Association

The School Library Association is an independent charity that believes that every pupil is entitled to effective school library provision. The SLA is committed to supporting everyone involved with school libraries, promoting high quality reading and learning opportunities for all.  Website: www.sla.org.uk

Cutting the posts of all School Librarians in Argyll and Bute

School Librarians across the UK have always looked to Scotland as an example of best practice.  In Scotland, for years, all school libraries had to be overseen by a chartered school librarian, and were well stocked.  Unlike England, where professional qualifications were less and less valued, and the cheapest option often held sway – often with libraries closing altogether.  Well, no longer.  Argyll and Bute have now decided to do away with ALL of their school librarian posts – but not to worry, they have decided to keep their hanging baskets and municipal flower beds instead.  The towns will carry on looking pretty whilst the children lose a valuable educational resource – so that’s all right then, isn’t it? Children in Argyll and Bute will now be educationally disadvantaged compared to their peers in the rest of Scotland. If like me, you think this is certainly NOT all right, please protest.  Write to the council, and please do sign this petition to Save Scotland’s School Libraries.

SLN – are you a member yet?

Most – though not all – of Heart’s readers know about SLN (School Librarian’s Network) and are members of this Yahoo Group.  Most of the work on Heart comes from members of SLN.  However, if you are a school librarian anywhere in the world, and you are not a member, you are missing out on a fantastic source of support and CPD.  The group was set up by Elizabeth Bentley, who is on the SLG Committee, more than 10 years ago.  The group runs as a completely free chatroom where we can exchange ideas, put those questions that only another librarian colleague can answer, and have the occasional moan!  The group also has a large collection of very useful files.    If you would like to join, create a Yahoo profile which includes the fact that you are a school librarian.  Then send a blank email to this address and Elizabeth will join you up.

sln-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

It is a closed group, but it doesn’t take too long for you to be approved.  Then you can join the most lively and informative online group of school librarians I have ever come across. You will still need your Yahoo Profile to access the files. See you there!

World Book Day tree

 

World Book Day tree

What are you planning to do for World Book Day – March 5th 2015?  This great idea from last year was sent in Shirley Greenough, Librarian at The Lancaster School in Leicester.  Shirley explains:

“Each boy (I am librarian at an all-boys state school) wrote the title of their favourite book or books on a leaf. I then added these to a Book Tree Display. The staff did the same on coloured flags which formed the border of the display.

 I was amazed at the amount of boys who completed the task and my tree grew and grew. Not as many staff completed their flags, but it made a wonderful display and I would recommend it for any school librarian on World Book Day.”

Carnegie and Greenaway winners – and all that fuss!

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Congratulations to Jon Klassen for winning the Greenaway Medal with ‘This is not my hat’ and Kevin Brooks for winning the Carnegie with ‘Bunker Diaries’.  You can read more about the winning books on the official page.  However, you can’t have missed the controversy surrounding the Bunker Diaries, with some newspapers deeming it unfit to be read  by children, too disturbing and damaging, whilst others took the completely opposing view.  Here are the links, judge for yourselves.

Telegraph: ‘Why wish this book on a child?’

Guardian: ‘Why teenagers need bleak books’ and ‘Why we’re glad the Bunker Diaries won the Carnegie’

Also Shoo Rayner, children’s novelist, believes that the Carnegie has taken the wrong turn, and that the Carnegie Medal should be for children’s, and not young adult, books.  It has caused a Twitter storm from angry YA authors and librarians – read his post here.

And finally, Barbara Band, CILIP President and school librarian made an excellent speech about school libraries on announcement day, advocating for school libraries.  Read her blog post which includes the speech in full here, or watch it on Vimeo here.

Let us know what you think – at least it has got people reading the book,  and commenting, if nothing else!

It’s World Book Day today!

World Book Day bannerWhat are you doing in your school today?  Do you have anything exciting to share with other Heart users – please send photos and stories to me, I would love to feature them here.  I love the World Book Day site, there is so much on there! Or did you take part in the Robert Muchamore live webcast?   How did that go?  Share all of your World Book Day news with other users of the site – hope you have a wonderful day!

School Librarian Lyn Hopson amongst top 10 Literacy Heroes!

National Literacy Trust logoOn Heart we are really pleased to announce that Lyn Hopson from a school in Doncaster is one of the top 10 Literacy Heroes named by the National Literacy Trust.  Also Teaching Assistant Velda Jackson from Leeds was nominated by her school librarian, and made the list.  They share the honour of being in the top ten with luminaries such as JK Rowling and Henry Winkler.  Read the report on the BBC website here or on the National Literacy Trust website here.  Congratulations to Lyn and Velda – and everyone else on the list who is working to show that reading – and libraries – DO make a difference!