Letters from the Library

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Can you believe it has been four months since my first 'Letters from the Library' post?! The plan was to make it a regular feature but, as you will know, life can hectic and get in the way of the best laid plans!

It is hard to fathom that my initial 12 month contract within the Library will be coming to an end in just over a months time. This past academic year has just flown by! I am happy to report that I am still enjoying working in the Library as much as I was in March. Although with the six weeks holiday starting next week I will be glad to get some peace and quiet at work without the students!

Life in the Library has been as busy and varied as usual. I have had the chance to shadow the Carnegie Medal with a lovely group of girls who were all so keen to meet and talk about the books during the last term. We really struck gold with our Carnegie group this year. It can sometimes be hard to get a conversation out of a group students, with comments such as 'yeah the book was good' being about as far as you get. Not with this group though, oh no. We had intelligent and insightful debates every time we met and it was rewarding for me and the Librarian to witness a group of girls exploring their ideas about each of the shortlisted books. I think that I will look back on the Carnegie group from this year with pride and fond memories for many years to come.

The Library lessons have also carried on with the Year 7s progressing with their reading challenge and the Year 8s getting the chance to look at the shortlisted books for the Kate Greenaway medal. Unfortunately I was feeling under the weather for most of the April-May term so didn't partake in many of the lessons. However I have jumped at the chance recently to run the Year 7 classes and it has been wonderful seeing how they have got on with the reading challenge. As expected some of the students had given up or forgotten about it but we have had a few girls gain their Gold awards, which is brilliant. Something that has made me incredibly happy is seeing how many of our Year 7s are keen readers. Even though some of them hadn't carried on with the challenge they had done this because they just wanted to carry on reading books of their own choosing with no restrictions. We also seem to buck the trend with boys not wanting to read as some of our most prolific readers are boys!

One little success story I will take with me is a boy who was adamant that he didn't like reading when he came for his reading challenge update in January. I am a firm believer that most people will like reading if they find the right of book. I took this approach with him and talked to him about why he didn't like reading. Sure enough his response was 'I just don't know what to read.' It can be so frustrating for some students, who really want to read, but are overwhelmed with the choice available to them in the Library. I decided to walk around the Library with him to try and narrow down what he thought he might like to try. He isn't a confident reader so we steered clear of big books. I pointed him in the direction of the Graphic Novels and Manga section and explained to him that they are made up of images and words, telling the story in a different way to a normal story book. He had told me he liked supernatural things such as Vampires so I though The Saga of Darren Shan Manga series might be a good start. He took the first one to his table and after clarifying that Manga is laid out differently, he sat down and read quietly for the rest of the lesson. What makes me especially proud of this story is that he is still making his way through the series and has branched out into other Manga series as well. He is now a semi-regular face in the Library and I always make sure to engage him in conversation about his reading when he does come in.

And that is what I am enjoying most about this job. Of course I am still enjoying everything else such as the displays and the behind the scenes work. But it is the day to day interaction with the students and seeing their love of reading grow that is the main reason why I love working in a school Library so much. As I have said before I am so, so passionate about developing literacy skills and instilling a love of reading in young people and the only way to do that is to ensure you are constantly interacting with the students and making sure you do your best to promote what the Library has to offer.

As for my professional outlook? I had applied for a job within the school that would see me move out of the Library and into the English department as a Faculty Support Officer but I was unsuccessful. At the moment I have two career paths that I may want to follow. I could either stay in libraries and continue within the school library environment or I could move into the more academic side of things in a student support role and maybe one day gain a teaching qualification. I know that it is a slight change of tone from my last post, as I wrote about wanting to become a qualified Librarian and maybe even branch into other areas in the library sector. That has changed slightly. A career as a Librarian is still very much at the forefront but I know now I would only ever want to work in a school setting. I am confident that working in education is where I am going to make my career. The reason I am contemplating moving towards the more academic side is because opportunities to work in school libraries can be few and far between and it would be a way for me to carry on working with my interest in literacy. A lot of jobs advertised can be poorly paid or entail working part time and that is something, being at the beginning of my career, that would set me back rather than help me progress.

I have applied for a job in another school Library that would be a progression from this post, it is also permanent which would be brilliant. I would be gaining more responsibility for implementing projects, which is something that excites me. I am waiting to here if I have an interview so keep your fingers crossed!

I can spend another year in my current role if that job application doesn't work out. As it is a graduate placement it will have to come to an end next August but it is reassuring to know that I won't be jobless come September. Although it would be ideal both for me and for the school if I do move on, I know I will thoroughly enjoy working there for another year if needs be.

So, the next update (whenever it will be!) may include an announcement about a new job. Whatever happens over the coming weeks I know that I have gained valuable experience in my current job and I continue to enjoy each and every day. Libraries are incredibly important to me, school Libraries and I feel privileged to be able to provide such a service to the students at the school I work for.

Until next time!

Bye x