This article was originally published in the Information Professional in September 2019.
Looking back over my previous articles for the Information Professional I realised I have mainly focused on school libraries, however, having spent the last 16 years working for our local Schools’ Library Service in Guernsey and only 2 of those years in a private girls school as their school librarian, why has my focus not been more on SLS’s?
I think it’s because our focus is on helping our local schools integrate our SLS librarians across the curriculum whilst also looking after their libraries too. If it’s working well our SLS Librarians become the School Librarian support our schools need and I then I can talk about what we do in that context. What I never explain is how this can happen when we are only in some of our schools half a day a week?
Whilst the SLS librarians are the face of our service through providing support and advice in running a school library as well as teaching independent inquiry skills and run activities to enhance reading for pleasure. Our central team behind the scenes is providing the network of support which enables our SLS Librarians to achieve as much as they do. I thought it was time to tell you why the Schools’ Library Service is so important.
Our Centre team curates, buys, processes, selects and arranges deliveries of all the stock that eventually arrives in schools. From our personally selected project boxes to our annual fiction loans that put books into school libraries and then into children’s hands is a core part of our service. We provide book club sets, audiobooks, ebooks and online resources such as Q-Files and History reference Center to name just a few. These resources enable our SLS librarian to teach in the classrooms knowing that the tools they need are already at the schools ready to use.
Beyond our book loans, we are always looking at how our service is moving forward in line with our schools’ needs. With this in mind, we bring authors over for book week and take them out to the schools. In collaboration with Guille-Allès Public library, we bring school children in for craft and stories twice a year and can see over 1000 children in a fortnight. We put on many events throughout the year including World Book Day Quizzes, events for Carnegie and Greenaway book awards and Non-Fiction November. We do this because we believe that children should be encouraged to use every resource available to them and the public library is an important part of that.
We are also aware that we need to keep our offers fresh so have introduced a reading for pleasure scheme called Reading Roadmap (thanks to Islington SLS), access to a tool called Fiction Express to support reading and a Channel Island Children’s Book Award too. We keep up to date with new technology, like Flipgrid and Padlet and learn how to use it to support learning. The SLS librarians are able to use all of these resources to encourage schools to work with them for the benefit of their students.
This is just a tiny snapshot of what we do at SLS Guernsey, other SLS’s across the UK provide different services too as we believe in making sure the SLS is there for the local population and provide for its individual needs.
In my opinion Schools’ Library Services are the quiet champions of school libraries. Working in very difficult times where budgets that are closing school libraries are putting pressure on SLS subscriptions too. SLS’s provide cost-effective support that can be tailored to each individual schools needs, local books awards, the school library award and more. So if you have a school library or not, maybe it is time to look again at what is on offer from your local SLS. Take a look at the national website https://schoolslibraryservicesuk.org/ to find out who can support you.