This post is so eagerly anticipated that I have had people emailing me to ask when it is ready! Every year, the talented Helen Smith from Eckington School in Derbyshire compiles this wonderful Christmas TV list – full of films made from books. This year the design is even more stunning. Feel free to download and share, but please ensure that Helen’s hard work is credited.
Hosea Tokwe from Zimbabwe is well known to members of the mailing group SLN. He runs a School Library month and Conference in Zimbabwe every year, and members of SLN help to fund this financially every year. Hosea asks no money from the delegates, which is where we come in. This year he has sent me a great report from this year’s work, which I have posted below. Thanks to Hosea and his work, school libraries are being valued in Zimbabwe. This is a great example of cross sector work, as Hosea is a University Librarian with a heart for school libraries. Enjoy the article!
To contribute towards this Conference next year, please contact Elizabeth Bentley (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will be only too pleased to help.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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
It’s the time of year when inductions start happening for new students, or we start thinking about how we introduce the library to our incoming Year 7 students. This introduction is from Matt Imrie, blogger at Teen Librarian. If you haven’t yet discovered this wonderful resource, then sign up today! Matt has created one of the best fun introductions to Dewey – in my opinion! – with this fun activity using the Dewey Decimal Classification card game. Playable in several ways, Matt provides the rules and a free download of beautifully visual cards. Feel free to use this resource – but remember to credit the Teen Librarian!
If you have any great induction activities you’d like to share, please contact me.
Has your school ever taken part in the wonderful collaborative writing project called The Write Path, run by Bev Humphrey? Mine has – and I can tell you it is a wonderful and enriching experience. Students carry on writing each others stories, all around the world, so that the completion of a story can take 24 hours and go all around the world! Students get the chance to Skype with the school before or after them – my school loved talking to the school in Australia which had kangaroos in the distance! To find out more about how your school can take part in this wonderful collaborative project, see this page on Heart.
Jo tells us of her work in promoting wellbeing in her school.
I wanted to share some work I have done regarding wellbeing for Students with other librarians as I am aware this is a growing area of concern for schools, which may fall within our gifts to support.
I’ve been in my role as Library Assistant at a large Hampshire secondary school since the end of September, when I changed careers having spent a few years at home with my young daughter. I’ve learnt so much about working with teenagers and in a school but have so much more to learn!
I was originally asked to host an assembly for every year group at our large secondary school , providing an outline of how the library can support them. Feeling fairly confident of what I would say to the lower years who are much more engaged with reading than the older GCSE years, I wondered what was the best angle to approach it from that felt interesting and relevant to the students. So I created a very short anonymous survey and asked the following questions:
– what is important to their friends right right now?
-what is exciting their friends?
-what are the challenges facing their friends?
I pitched it from the ‘friends’ angle to enable students to be more likely to open up about others than themselves. Distributing the survey to all in Year 10 and 11, I received many results within 24 hours that highlighted some very interesting themes, so I decided to roll the survey out to all year groups. About 80% of tutor groups completed these surveys, the results of which were very enlightening.
The main theme that ran across the year groups was the importance of ‘gaming’ – I’d never heard of Fortnite, the X-box game, before reading the survey responses but I made sure I read about it afterwards as about 60% of all surveys across the year groups mentioned this as important and exciting! Anxiety was a common thread, the ’causes’ of which differed between the year groups. Years 7-9 suggested anxiety was mainly due to navigating difficult friendships, starting to think about choosing options, and completing a lot of homework. Years 10 and 11 suggested anxiety stemmed from a pressure to achieve in their exams (self imposed or from family), coping with the amount of revision, balancing revision with hobbies, not having enough time to do everything, eating poorly, worry about starting college, and concern over what they are going to do after college. Interestingly spending too much time on phones/gaming was also cited as a cause of stress!
I took the survey results and looked at how well the library supporting the emerging themes of Wellbeing and Gaming and worked with Peters to identify a bespoke book list relevant for these themes. I also looked at the Literacy Trust’s article on GameLit which proposes a new genre, of fiction set in the same alternative realities to what users of video games experience. https://www.booktrust.org.uk/whats-happening/blogs/2018/january/5-virtual-reality-books-for-your-gaming-mad-tweens-and-teens/
I captured images of the new books that were coming in and included these in my assembly presentation, as well as creating a ‘New in the Library” display in the corridor outside the library
For Years 10 and 11 I drew upon the wisdom of Danielle Marchant, founder of the Pause retreats who had previously acted as my business coach when I was working in a senior HR role in Asia. Danielle, who had experienced burnout and set about to design the retreats that she needed but weren’t available, is the author of “Pause@ by Octopus books https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pause-press-pause-before-life/dp/1912023091 and we came up with 5 tips to Pause that were relevant for Years 10 and 11.
1) Breathe – I demonstrated the different between belly breathing which we do when relaxed and fast upper body breathing that we do under stress
2)Worry Jar – the act of writing down your worries and putting them in a jar, taking the worrying thought out of your brain and onto paper helps you to question if it really is something worth worrying about, stopping your mind worrying over and over about the issue causing it to be bigger than it really is, freeing up space to concentrate on other things!
3) Importance of Blank space – allocated unstructured time to help deal with the constant busyness of their life. This also included tips on using their phones less – e.g. not charging overnight in their bedrooms, switching off devices two hours before bed and picking up a book instead, ‘see the Sky before a screen’.
4) the importance of getting outside to re-energise – whether its walking the dog, playing football with friends, going for a run or eating your lunch outside
5) Readaxation – I referred to Nicola Morgan’s work on Readaxation and positioned this as the link between the library and wellbeing. That by finding a great book they can lose themselves in will help them reach ‘flow’ and take their mind off their anxieties or exams, as well as helping them sleep if reading before bed!
I signposted the following categories of books to them:
Since the assemblies, the books have flown out with reservations constantly being made. The GameLit has certainly been popular with the boys, they have been shocked to find something that taps into their game playing passions!
I am also hoping to set up a ‘Thrive’ lunchtime club to support wellbeing, and am in discussions about inviting Nicola Morgan in to the school to speak to Year 10 and 11 students, as well as parents, in October as they enter the crucial GCSE years.