Letters from the Library

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Way back in October I wrote a post titled 'Beginning my journey to become a school librarian' in which I wrote about the excitement of being at the very start of my graduate trainee year as and Assistant Librarian in a school library. 

We are now in the second week of March and I can't believe how much time has flown by since I wrote that post. I am now entering the sixth month of my placement and I am glad to report that I am still enjoying it as much as I was then. 

Working in a school library is hectic but extremely rewarding. My life is now set to the ringing of the school bell and it is sometimes a race to see how much I can get done in a particular period, as the next period will be taken up by lessons or students coming to swap their books. Days and weeks fly by and I am grateful that I work with a Librarian that takes part in so many different events and activities because I always have something to look forward too.

So far I have helped organise and run two book groups, one for the locally run Brilliant Book Award and another for the nationally run Stan Lee Excelsior Award both of which have introduced me to children's literature that I may have not picked up before. The Library also took part in the first annual Harry Potter Book Night organised by the publishers Bloomsbury. I jumped at the chance to fully flex my Harry Potter nerd muscles and the party was a huge success. I even got to show off my film replica collection as one of the activities required students to guess the name of ten objects. Don't worry, a member of staff stood with them at all times and no objects were harmed! I have also had the opportunity to see Marcus Sedgwick and Kevin Brooks speak to groups of students about their works and writing in general. Having the opportunity to see two well known and successful authors is definitely a perk of the job and it was great to see how inspired the students were after meeting them. I even managed to get my own book signed by Marcus Sedgwick. 

We also keep up to date with other events that go on in the library, education and literature world with our ever rotating system of displays. I have really enjoyed creating displays as it gives me the chance to use my creativity. I have also discovered that I need things to be symmetrical or I won't be happy! Below are two of my favourite displays that I have done. The first one was for Remembrance Day, the school got really heavily involved in the event, especially the Library so it was nice to add my own little contribution. The second one was for the Readathon the year eights took part in for the charity Readwell, I used quotes about reading by people such as Walt Disney and Lewis Carroll to encourage students to pick up a book and take part.

Another area I have loved taking part in are library based lessons. Years seven, eight and nine all have library based lessons. It was a steep learning curve at the beginning of my placement as I started in October and was thrown straight in at the deep end. Looking back I think it helped me as I was required to be confident with students and teachers from the offset. As we see all the years from KS3 it means that the type of lessons we deliver varies widely. For the year sevens, the lessons act as an introduction to the the library so my first experience of library based lessons was with an activity called The Reading Game, which allows year seven students to browse the various genres available in the library and write down any books that they might want to read. They then take part in a reading challenge and they have a lesson every half term which serves as a chance for us to catch up with how they are doing. The first lot of year eight library lessons acts as a refresher and they are given a quiz to complete which tests them on how much they can remember about the library. After that we do several activities with them during their lessons such as genre quizzes and showing them the new stock we have available. The year nine classes are a little more challenging. My favourite one so far has been the lesson based around the idea of creating a bibliography. The year nines struggled with this activity and it made me realise how strongly I feel about information literacy being integrated into the curriculum. 

Helping organise events, rotate the displays and delivering lessons has helped me appreciate just how busy and varied a job as a School Librarian can be. The school I am working in values the library and what it does for the school as a whole which is reflected in the expertise of the Librarian that I work with. Although sometimes it does feel that only having two members of staff working in the library means some jobs are left behind, especially when one of us is ill. It baffles me how some schools expect one lone Librarian to run an efficient school library and even more so when the offer a pittance for the role in terms of salary. 

Students are of course a handful. I have worked in people facing roles since the age of sixteen so I am used to problems that arise from the type of role I work in. However teenagers can be a force of their own sometimes. I have surprised myself in that area though. I don't let myself get intimidated by the older students (who are all taller than me!) and my behaviour management has improved greatly. Whilst I do have to deal with conflict as anyone in a school would, I love working with teenagers. Having the chance to help build a students relationship with reading is the reason I want to work in a school library. For every bad student there are three more who find the library a safe haven and I am part of what keeps that safe haven running. 

My time so far as an Assistant Librarian has done nothing but reinforce the fact that I want to be a Librarian. I recently visited the University of Sheffield on a Postgraduate Open Day and that also reinforced my ambition to become qualified. The Information School will be offering a Distance Learning Masters course in Library and Information Management which fits in with my plans for the next few years. I am hoping to enroll either September 2016 or September 2017. I know that gaining that qualification will open a lot of doors for me. 

Something that has surprised me is the shift from being solely focused on working as a School Librarian to the idea of exploring my options within the Library and Information sector. Whilst I think that working in a school and helping children develop their literacy skills will always be my main motivator, I have found myself looking at jobs roles in more academic settings and also thinking more about the information side of being a Librarian. As I mentioned earlier information literacy is something that I am really interested, not just from a school perspective but the state of it in society as a whole. This is something that I hope I can pursue through my own research and hopefully when I begin my Masters. 

That is what I like about the sector I have chosen to build my career in. There is not one set path that I need to take. I am really looking forward to seeing where I'll be in a few years from now. My interest in libraries is going from strength to strength and I am looking forward to getting fully involved in every aspect of life as a Library and Information professional. I took part in my first uklibchat the other week. I really enjoyed engaging with other professional and speaking to people with more experience than me. I am also hoping that I will get the chance to go to meetings and conferences that are run regularly around the country. 

I have come to realise that having a career in the Library and Information sector entails a lot more than just your main job role. It requires dedication and a constant advocacy for information literacy and the importance of libraries in society. Whilst I do plan on having a family, I think that being part of a sector that enables it's workers to be thoroughly involved suits me and where I want to go with my professional life. I love a challenge, so bring on being a mum and a career woman! 

Sorry that this is such a long post! 

I was planning on updating this blog regularly but as is the case with most things, real life just got in the way! I will hopefully be updating semi regularly from now on so there won't be too many huge posts like this one (although I do tend to waffle on most of the time)

'Letters from the Library' will become a regular feature, as the posts will be a way for me to talk about my professional development and how I'm feeling about my journey to qualification and beyond.

Until next time!

Bye x