National Survey Results – Could do better!

School Librarians deliver their report card to Education Minister Nick Gibb.

Key findings include:

  • 9 in 10 schools in England that participated in the research have access to a designated library space, falling to 67% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland however;
  • Schools with a higher proportion of students on free school meals are more than twice as likely not to have access to a designated library space;
  • Employment terms for librarians and library staff fall below national standards, with low pay and little investment in professional development and training.

 

Commenting on the publication of the research, Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP said: ” We welcome this landmark report as the first comprehensive picture of the state of play in our school libraries. On the one hand, it is a testament to the Head Teachers, Governors, Teachers and Librarians that value and promote the importance of school libraries for their learners and their schools. On the other hand the research paints a picture of inequality of access and opportunity and insecure employment that we cannot accept. The findings highlight the urgency of securing a national School Libraries Strategies and investment in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, drawing on the example of Scotland.”

To find out more about the Great School Libraries Campaign, please visit their website: www.greatschoollibraries.org.uk

Riding the Book Bus to Zambia

Jackie Rice, JCoSS LRC Manager spent two and a half weeks of the summer holiday in Zambia, Southern Africa, volunteering with a charity called The Book Bus. This is a review of her experiences.

During the summer break I spent two and a half weeks with The Book Bus charity in Livingstone, Zambia. I first heard about The Book Bus a few years ago when reading a report from one of the volunteers. The report explained how volunteers travel to Zambia to take part in a literacy project, driving out every day on Book Bus Charlie to schools in rural areas. Elephants and giraffes can be seen from the bus on the way to the schools. Combining a literacy project and an adventure – I knew that I wanted, if possible, to join the team on that bus!

 This year my plan was realised. An exhilarating and life-changing trip was about to begin. Travelling with a fellow Barnet librarian, we flew via Johannesburg and on to Livingstone. Our suitcases, safely stashed in the hold, were bursting with books and craft materials. We were met by members of The Book Bus Zambia team and settled into our accommodation.

During the holiday programme which runs in Livingstone from June to September, international volunteers join the Zambian team.  The team works with teachers to introduce books in English to children aged from 3-16 years of age – some older children are still completing their primary level. We would travel to rural primary schools, share books and stories and literacy-related activities such as singing, arts and crafts and playing games. The programme aims to make reading books a fun and enjoyable activity.  The children were always excited by the arrival of the bus and books. Some children will walk or run 15 miles each way to reach school.

Twice a week we also visited a Book Bus supported library where we could read one to one with the children and sing songs. Again, the children were filled with joy and delight to see the bus arriving. The volunteers are accepted as part of The Book Bus community and greeted warmly.  In contrast the library had few shelves and a small number of very well read books.  On returning to our accommodation we prepared for the next day’s classes, choosing the books, songs and craft activities. Sometimes we experienced a power or water cut as the government regulated scarce resources.

Why Zambia?

Zambia is one of the poorest nations in the world with more than half of the population living below the poverty line. Over half of the population are under 18 years of age, and most people live in rural areas. Although there are over 75 local languages, English is Zambia’s official language – learning to speak and read in English massively increases a child’s life chances. However, most children do not complete their primary level education.

Tom Maschler, a publisher in the UK, travelled to Zambia in 2006 and saw first hand the scarcity of books in remote areas. Teachers and community leaders welcomed the idea of a Book Bus. In 2008, the first Book Bus, with 5000 books on board, left London for Zambia. The bus was beautifully decorated with illustrations by Sir Quentin Blake. Since then staff at The Book Bus have built relationships with school teachers in communities which have very few books or resources. These are all provided for the programme by The Book Bus.

The harsh reality of life in Zambia was brought home to us as we visited a traditional village beside one of the schools we were working with. The riverbed was dry as the rains had failed. The villagers could therefore not grow their crops which they rely on to sell at market. They had to pay for fuel to work the pump to raise the water they need from deep in the ground. Only 17 miles away, back at our accommodation in Livingstone, the grounds were being watered daily to look attractive.

The Book Bus programme has been extremely successful so far. The UK based charity now operates all year round in Malawi, Zambia and Ecuador and has five buses. Since 2008 the charity has worked with over 200 schools, reaching 100,000 children. Literacy programmes are being expanded and reading levels and school attendances have improved.

Zambia is a beautiful country and volunteers have the opportunity to visit the Victoria Falls, the greatest curtain of falling water in the world, and see the sunset on the Zambezi River. You can also see stunning wildlife by taking a local trip see rhinos, elephants and giraffes or simply by looking out of the window of the bus each day. Highlights of the trip for me: meeting and becoming friends with the Zambian team – such gracious, dedicated and kind people; making a positive contribution to literacy in Zambia in such an enjoyable way; getting to know the children and being greeted with such joy as the Book Bus arrives; seeing three elephants take turns to swim across a river; swimming in the Devil’s Pool at the top of the Victoria Falls; spotting two giraffes standing on a roundabout. This was an unforgettable experience and one I will always treasure.

Does this sound like a project you would like to get involved with? I would recommend the experience to anyone of any age. For further information about The Book Bus, to volunteer in Zambia, or donate go to www.thebookbus.org

Contact me if you require any further encouragement to volunteer.

Jackie Rice  September 2019

 

Phil’s amazing offer!

As you may know, Phil Bradley retired at the beginning of this year, but fortunately it’s still possible to make use of his expertise. He has produced two courses in video format aimed at information professionals, Apps for Librarians and Advanced Internet Searching. Each course consists of 40 or more videos covering different aspects of the appropriate subject. The apps course covers subject areas such as browsers, guiding tools, making videos, multimedia tools, news apps, photography apps, presentation apps and so on. In fact, everything that you need in order to get the absolute most out of your smart phone or tablet, and versions of apps for both IOS and Android are included. The good news is that Phil has made this resource entirely free of charge for personal use. Simply visit his wiki at http://appsforlibrarians.pbworks.com/ and dig in!
The second video course on Advanced Internet Searching covers exactly that. There are a lot of videos on how to get the best out of Google, alternatives to Google, image search engines, multimedia searching, videos on specific search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Yandex. Phil also covers social media searching, multi search engines and much more. This collection is available for personal use for a one off fee of £20, and you will have complete access to the collection indefinitely. Phil is happy for you to use the videos in your own teaching sessions, and simply asks that you do not use them in any commercial form. If you want to know more, or wish to purchase the collection, email Phil at philipbradley@gmail.com for payment details.

#GreatSchoolLibraries Campaign is officially launched!

I hope that most of you noticed that this wonderful Campaign was launched yesterday, 20th September 2018.  I was certainly busy on Twitter with it!

Most of you know that with my other hat on I am Chair of CILIP’s School Libraries Group, and in this capacity I am on the team that launched this initiative.  Working in partnership with Alison Tarrant of the School Library Association and with other partners, we have started a three year campaign with the objective of raising the profile of school libraries with the government, Ofsted and educational professionals everywhere.  Our aim is to get them to realise the value that a school library brings. and therefore to properly fund them where they exist, and put them back in schools where they have been taken out.

To this end, we would value your help!  We have a data collecting team who is compiling a lot of information to prove the value that we bring.  If you could help us by sending us a case study (or two!) on how you have made a difference to teaching and learning.  I am attaching a template here, and an exemplar case study for you to look at.  If you need any further help with this, please contact me on this page and I will put you in touch with someone on the team who can help.

On the website you will also find two wonderful posters to put up in your library, and an exercise for your students to do as well, celebrating your library and what it means to them.  You can send pictures of these to us – send them to me and I will put them on the page.

Let’s celebrate our #GreatSchoolLibraries!  Please tweet about your successes using that hashtag, and let’s make this three year Campaign make a difference!

Draft guide and template

Case study example

Research Smarter!

 

CILIP’s Information Literacy Group have produced a great set of research sheets aimed at schools, and even better, they have chosen to allow this as a free download for everyone.  They were originally created to go with the Teen Tech Awards, but they adapted them for use in all settings.  These ten sheets help students become information literate and smart researchers themselves.  Download them here. CILIPILG has also produced a very helpful new definition of what Information Literacy means in all sorts of contexts, and you can download that here.

#GreatSchoolLibraries – a great campaign!

With my other ‘hat’ on, Chair of CILIP School Libraries Group, I am really proud to tell you about the new campaign backed by CILIP that was launched at our 2018 Conference.  The Great School Libraries campaign was launched by CEO Nick Poole in his opening speech. Working closely together with the SLA – School Librarians Association – CILIP, CILIPSLG and SLA are campaigning for the end of the closures of school libraries all over the UK.  Not only that but we would like to go further and we are stating that every secondary school should have a professionally staffed, fully funded library.  Please follow the link to register your support for this campaign, and to watch the presentation to see how we hope to achieve this together.

A (school) librarian abroad

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to transport yourself to work in another country?  International Schools very often advertise, but what would it really be like to take up that offer?  Marion Prickett tells all…

In August 2014 I set off on the biggest adventure of my life. After a whirlwind of interviews, packing and moving I was off to Malaysia as the first Librarian at Epsom College in Malaysia. I would like to say that in true Librarian style I carefully researched by new home and workplace, but there was no time for that and so I arrived to the heat and humidity of the tropics in high summer. I enjoy something different and a challenge and I got both. Unfortunately, the building programme was delayed and so our accommodation was not ready, however, what we lost in permanent accommodation we gained in team building and bonding. We started off with about 28 academic staff, and a small but vital team of admin staff. The school opened after three weeks of hard slog to try and turn a recently handed over building site into a functioning school of 140 students. The College had intentionally omitted recruiting for years 11 and 13 as it would be unreasonable to expect a start-up to run exams at the end of the first year.

The library was bare when I arrived, the furniture was in plastic wrapping, the books were a far off dream, there were no computers for the students and my assistant, Atiqah and I had one laptop between us. Luckily I had bought my MacBook. The lack of computers hardly mattered as the internet was inadequate. We borrowed books from families to cover the first weeks and thanks to a brilliant idea from Val Dewhurst (QEGS) we appeared to display books we had ordered on the shelves.

By half term we had taken delivery of 3,500 books – not as many as I expected but there had been some adjustments to the book order, we also had nearly 300 DVDs, various online resources, some locally bought resources, a really good selection of posters and surprisingly happy Library users. Unfortunately, when the Library management system was eventually installed and the data loaded it was found to be flawed and everything had to be re-entered. Right from the beginning the library had been running lessons for students from nursery to Year 7 – this was later extended to year 8. I did induction sessions and teachers enthusiastically used the library.

I visited any book shops I could find, although they were very few and I really had to travel to Kuala Lumpur, over an hour’s drive away. The Malaysians are very kind and helpful and our local staff helped us all to feel welcome and at home.

I am now in my fourth and final year at Epsom College in Malaysia and it has been the best working years of my life. Unfortunately, if I am to see my husband for more than two short visits a year then I have to return to the UK where he works.

The pluses of living and working in Malaysia? The best job ever. I have worked in a fabulous school with colleagues to match. I am a Head of Department, I have an excellent assistant, I am never questioned about how I run the Library because I am trusted. The governors come and say hello whenever they come to the College for meetings. I feel as if my contribution and opinions really matters to the life of the College. I have been expected to join academic committees, I help to run a competition with other international school librarians to challenge our readers. I choose the stock. I am well paid by international standards and very well paid by UK standards, I have a benefits package exactly the same as the teachers – because I am on a par with them, including ID90 which gives us 90% off the price of Air Asia flights. I suffer none of the problems commonly encountered by many UK school Librarians.

The minuses about living and working in Malaysia? There are very few. Family are a long way away, Skype is great for day to day contact but it is still a long way and the difference in time zones means it can be difficult to keep in touch. It often takes longer to get things done than in the UK, The College is a long drive from anywhere, when we first arrived the nearest really nice supermarket was about an hour’s drive away, or it was a trip to Kuala Lumpur. I don’t like chillies and spices – a real disadvantage when even babies chew on a chilli (OK, not quite but they are definitely brought up on spicy food). I wish we had all been encouraged to learn the local language of Bahasa or Mandarin. Living on campus means it is hard to switch off (which I am not very good at anyway). There are some very unpleasant diseases here that have no cure. You are recommended to have rabies jabs if you plan to do anything wild and adventurous, dengue fever is vicious as my colleagues who have suffered can testify. The heat can be over-powering – thank goodness for good quality air con – everywhere. The driving standards are very different to the UK. I imagine if you lived in Kuala Lumpur it would be very easy to spend money on food and entertainment. Not a problem out here as almost the only booze is on the campus – the local commercial/retail development is owned by the local mosque and unsurprisingly they do not permit their tenants to sell alcohol.

Back in the summer of 2016, I visited Epsom College, UK. I wanted to see their library – I love to visit different libraries and see if I can improve what I do and share my ideas too. My headmaster mentioned exchanges often and so I suggested to the UK Librarian that we might be the trail blazers for this scheme which at that point was really only an idea. On returning to ECiM I suggested the idea to the headmaster who agreed, although I am not sure how certain he was it would come to anything. Anyway, Sue Nichols and I organised the exchange between us, kept our schools informed, sorted out paperwork (there was a surprising amount), and then in January swapped our lives. I inherited her lovely house in Dorking, her cat, and her job, including her three assistants. I had the easiest end of it as I am obviously familiar with life in the UK, although the cold was colder than I remembered! The staff at ECUK were very welcoming and kind, especially the Library assistants. The library provides lots of resources to year nine for various projects they undertake across the curriculum, year 12s and 13s were frequent library users and small groups used the Languages room on one side of the Library. Year 7and 8 also use the library weekly for silent reading. Epsom having been established since the mid 1800s has very impressive archives in the dungeons, clearly a lot of time and effort have gone into the creation, care and use of these. ECUK has twice as many students as ECiM and all in years 7 and above, this gives the school a very busy, bustling feel. It was surprising how small a group of Year 6s looked when they visited the school as part of their student recruitment programme. ECUK have an excellent book supplier who was extremely helpful – and so quick to deliver. I felt enormously envious as quick book delivery is something we cannot do. There are book suppliers in Malaysia but their stock is not as wide or diverse as UK suppliers. It was strange driving into work again and the state of Surrey roads was a shock – definitely worse than Malaysian roads. However, the joy of going home at weekends – I only had to work one Saturday during the exchange instead of almost every one as I do in Malaysia – was fantastic.

Since I have been back, everyone has asked if the College in the UK is ‘better’ – no it isn’t, but it isn’t worse either. It is different. ECUK is a traditional English boarding school with a long and proud history which they are very aware of, it caters for 11-18 year olds, the vast majority of whom have English as their home language. This makes some things easier but it is surprising how quickly you miss the diversity we have. Here our students range in age from 3 years old to 18+years old. Only a minority have English as their home language although many are very proficient in English as well as one two and sometimes more languages. So the voices raised in our corridors are often higher and beyond my comprehension whilst in ECUK you most hear English spoken by more mature voices as students in both places hurry from one class to another.

I would recommend anyone who can to do such an exchange, it is always interesting to see your life and career from a different perspective. You cannot help learn new things and take away new experiences. You will see things differently to your exchange partner and may be able to make useful suggestions, if you are a little nervous of working overseas but think it might be for you then this may be an excellent way to test the water and see how you like it.

Go on, go to the International Jobs section on the TES website and see what is there. You might surprise yourself. I did and love it.

Marion Prickett

College Librarian.

Epsom College in Malaysia.

library@epsomcollege.edu.my

School Librarians Network – our lifeline!

Do you belong to the internet group School Librarians Network yet?  If not, I really have to ask, why not?  SLN is a lifeline for school librarians everywhere.  Many of us are solo librarians, without anyone else to bounce ideas off, unlike teachers who have departmental colleagues to do that with.  Therefore many of us struggle on, inventing everything from scratch, creating everything and not having anyone to consult about problems that are solely library related.  Well, SLN is the answer to that!  Started by the inspirational Elizabeth Bentley more than 15 years ago – and I have certainly been a member for that long and it wasn’t new then – SLN was a Yahoo Group.  It is a safe place to bounce ideas around, ask Dewey queries, ask LMS questions, share problems and find a sympathetic ear, ask copyright questions and much, much more! SLN has a wealth of files that members can access, where generous librarians have shared displays, book lists and quizzes.  You need only to ask, and generally somebody else has done that and will share with you.

The reason why I am writing about this now – although it is always a good time to join SLN – is that Elizabeth has migrated the group from a Yahoo group to a Groups.io group instead.  This is a more reliable platform, and will give the group greater flexibility.  All of the files have been migrated too, so years of work has not been lost.  All current members were automatically migrated, but if you are reading this and are thinking that you need to belong to this inspirational community – and who wouldn’t! – then the joining details have changed.  Simply send an email to: SLN+subscribe@groups.io to join the community.  See you there!

Image courtesy of Britannica Image Quest.

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