Tag archives: primary school library

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Running a primary school library – sources of information, advice, ideas and support

Oxford Gardens 26People with responsibility for the primary schoool library are often not given the help they need. They may have little knowledge of its role, and how to manage it effectively to support the curriculum and children’s reading and wider learning. Preparing a course on running the primary library today, I realised it might be useful to list sources of information and advice, so the library can be, in Michael Morpurgo’s words, ‘the heart and soul’ of the school.

Schools library services are invaluable for support and resources. I cannot recommend subscription to an SLS highly enough. Here are links to all the SLSs in the UK and a map so you can find your nearest one, helpful now that many local authorities unfortunately no longer provide this crucial service.

The School Library Association, producers of the list and map, is extremely useful. They too provide support, and their publications are excellent, very practical. Making a Start with Your Primary School Library is, as the name suggests, a good starting point, but do check out their other titles too.

There are masses of ideas and information in the Primary School Library Guidelines.

Though not new, Ofsted’s report Good School Libraries: Making a Difference to Learning remains useful.

The School Librarians’ Network is a forum where school library staff can exchange news, views and ideas. The majority of members work in the secondary sector, but there is plenty that is relevant to primary libraries too.

Heart of the School has a secondary library focus, but is well worth a look.

The photo shows an inspiring library lesson at Oxford Gardens Primary School.


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Reading and the primary school library

I loved giving training at Heath Books this week on promoting reading through the primary school library. Such an important topic, and one that fits in well with the revised national curriculum in England framework document which exhorts schools to provide library facilities and do all they can to promote wider reading. The library has a big role to play too in terms of literacy across the curriculum, another priority in the new curriculum, and in the eyes of Ofsted.

We had useful discussions on practicalities like budgeting, stock selection and acquisition, issue systems, library layout and guiding. My favourite part was when everyone shared ideas for making reading attractive and exciting. How about a dressing-up box or a puppet theatre in the library? Buddy reading and reading clubs work really well in a library setting.
Reading treasure hunts are great. We were all very taken by one school’s strategy of celebrating the arrival of boxes of new books for the library in assembly. What about each class taking turns in making book-related displays? The heart of good library provision is of course the books. There must be a wide variety of appealing, up-to-date picture books, fiction and non-fiction, so that every child, whatever their age or abilities, can find things to read that suit their tastes and their interests easily. We must teach children how to browse, and we must give them freedom of choice. It is fundamental to reading enjoyment. These are the words of Terry Pratchett: ‘The way to get children reading is to leave the library door open and let them read anything and everything they want.’

These websites have excellent support for anyone with responsibility for the school library: Primary School Library Guidelines and School Library Association. I also recommend the SLA publications.

I always show photos on my courses, to give everyone new ideas. The one here shows a lovely year 6 library lesson in Martin School in Barnet that I was lucky enough to be involved in.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Primary school library training

I always enjoy giving training on school libraries, and was delighted to run a course for Dorset Schools Library Service yesterday for primary staff with new responsibility for the library. We had a fabulous mix of schools represented. Despite differences in size and approach, there was a shared concern about insufficient use being made of their libraries, something certainly not unique to Dorset. We discussed libraries’ role in supporting teaching and learning, and fundamentals like budgeting, selecting and buying resources, issue systems and furniture, layout and guiding. The bulk of the day was devoted to exploring ways to make the library a dynamic, relevant and effective part of the school: a place that can change attitudes to reading, and that teachers and pupils all want to use. The debates about appropriate resources were fascinating, and by no means limited to books. We were very lucky that one of the literacy coordinators on the course had previously been SENCO. Her insight into supporting pupils with low reading ability was so valuable. I loved the schemes that emerged for promoting reading in the library. How about a drama area with a puppet theatre? Fantastic. A bedtime reading event with the children in pyjamas sounds lovely, and, as the teacher who organised this suggested, great for modelling good reading practice to parents and carers. We heard about popular reading clubs one participant runs at lunchtimes. Pupils from different year groups enjoy sharing books together. The key to success is giving the children choice about what they read and how they share it. Freedom of choice is crucial for reading enjoyment. And we must teach children how to browse, and give them time for it, so their choices are right for them. I took this delightful picture of browsing in action at Martin Primary School in Barnet.

Thanks to the great delegates and Dorset Schools Library Service for an extremely stimulating day. I’m really looking forward to my course there in February on reading enjoyment at key stages 1 and 2.