Library Insights -A Day in the Life of an SLS Manager

SLS boxes of books ready for delivery

My day starts early as I like to be at my desk by about 7.30am to go through my long list of emails, which seem to multiply like ants overnight. There are several from school librarians and teachers around the country via http://schoolslibraryservices.org requesting information on suitable Library Management Systems. SLS-UK and schools library services around the country don’t endorse a particular system so I send out details of different options for the schools to make their own choice. Cost and simplicity usually determine which system primary schools will choose “something that we can use for issuing and returning books”. Secondary schools usually want a more sophisticated option with more functionality but also a robust product that has a good help desk they can easily access when they have problems.

I have received an email from a school we support with Pergamon LMS. They have just moved to the cloud-base version. The English coordinator wants me to print the class barcodes. Because access is now through a URL link I can do this work remotely from my desk in the office. I also tidied up their readers, removing students who had left. My team and I will also be able to catalogue the boxes of new books they have waiting to be added from our office and add teachers to the list of borrowers.

Next week we are hosting an author event with Onjali Rauf, whose book, The Boy at the Back of the Class won our 2019 Redbridge Children’s Book Award. Because we have at least eleven schools and around 280 students wanting to attend, we’ve booked the local theatre for the morning. I send out booking forms, information and book-buying sheets for the teachers to fill in. This means we can prepare the books in advance, include post-it-notes of names so hopefully the book signing goes more efficiently and students aren’t disappointed.

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Several topic loan requests have been sent in to the SLS inbox from teachers who didn’t manage to submit them at the end of term or who have found they urgently need a particular class set. I select the books requested along with story sacks, photo packs and multi-media. My trusty team issue and box the loans ready for our library drivers to deliver.

A teacher from one of the nearby High Schools calls to arrange a visit. He wants to borrow a couple of our Suitcases of History on World War 2 for an open evening. The school doesn’t subscribe but we agree a price. The suitcases are taken downstairs and loaded into his car and he has promised they will be returned next week.

At four in the afternoon I’m due to do a webinar with a company in New York. They have a wonderful extension for chrome, firefox and IE called Newguard https://www.newsguardtech.com/, which is a free tool for assessing online sources and teaching fake news. It uses a simple traffic light system to rate each website. The company wants to make the documentation more UK friendly. Before lunch, I do a last minute check-through of my comments and make sure the headphones and microphone are working on my desktop.

A school in a neighbouring borough has sent in a request via our SLS-UK website https://schoolslibraryservicesuk.org/school-library-award/ to do the SLS-UK School Library Award. The aims of the award are to:

  • To accredit school libraries through a straightforward and cost-effective self-assessment process that is robust and equitable across the UK
  • To recognise the work of library staff especially in designated library posts
  • To highlight the work of school libraries and their staff in raising the educational achievement of children and young people
  • To raise awareness of good school library provision in school communities and the profession locally and nationally.

I send the librarian the relevant details and an application form and explain that it is an easy self-evaluation process that shouldn’t be too time consuming or difficult to complete. It would be good if more schools went through the process as it is an excellent tool for evaluating the school library to, either shout to the school SMT about how amazing the school library and school librarian are, or to use in a case for requesting more budget, help and recognition.

The afternoon’s conversation with Newsguard goes well, despite IT letting me down. I don’t think our internet connection was up to a Webinar and we ended up working through the document via conference call. But all parties were happy with the outcome.

Grabbing a quick cup of tea I change metaphorical hats from SLS manager to public librarian as on Tuesday evenings, I facilitate a creative writing group for adults in the SLS showroom. I’ve been doing this for about 12 years now and have a lovely group of diverse attendees who have fascinating stories and poems to tell about their lives and love having a quiet, safe space to express themselves on paper and in conversation.

My day is finally over, the computer and lights are turned off and I leave to catch my bus home.

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