Large numbers of pupils use the library outside of class (it’s open to pupils before and after school, as well as, at break and lunch). In 2011 a single week in November clocked 1676 pupils through the door outside of class times. Regular numbers at break and lunch are around about the 70 to 90 mark.
I try and encourage pupils to have ownership of the library and, on top of trying to meet book requests or get their help to suggest resources and improvements, I have forty-five regular pupil helpers. Around thirty-five of them are in daily and are working on the SLA (School Library Association) Pupil Helper Scheme. I co-ordinate and support these pupils, many of whom found school a difficult place to fit in or are classed as MCMC pupils.
The library provides a place of safety and support for all it’s users. 86% of girls and 79% of boys said they liked the library in a survey I conducted during the 2009/2010 session. This is supported both by the numbers through the door and the annual increase in book issues.
Pupils and staff also enjoy the fortnightly displays. Often created by pupils or based on their suggestions, these displays vary in size and scale some being only in the library while others involve the whole school. Recently they have included International Talk like a Pirate Day (find the Pirate Reading and get a prize), World Book Day (Get Caught Reading in the library and win an Easter egg), Caravan Holiday Reads, Vampires, LGBT reads, and so on. The plan is to promote a range of books as well as encourage reading and literacy across the whole school at different points in the year.
To further promote books and reading I run a library blog which I use to post book pupil recommendations (usually written in teaching classes), my recommendations and other book and writing related inspirations and ideas. The aim is to provide an outside of school resource that offers inspiration and reading news at anytime. It would appear to be working so far this year (Jan – March 2011) 108 people have returned to visit the blog after initially being shown back in January or December.
A large portion of my term time is spent supporting and encouraging pupils to ask questions and seek information. This part of my role is hard to quantify and lacks handy statistics. I get a wide variety of queries, problems and challenges to deal with during a very short period of time. For instance on the 3rd of March 2011 over the course of lunch (45 minutes) I dealt with;
1) A pupil saying “That is so gay- but not in a homosexual way” – prompting a wee chat about how that didn’t make it less homophobic language.
2) Explaining how to ‘find & replace’ in Word to a S6 pupil.
3) I untied a pupil who had been tied into his backpack (apparently it was his request, though he admitted hadn’t thought through how to get out). Also spoke to the pupil who’d tied him in about the appropriateness of this.
4) Explained that a joke is only funny if everyone thinks so and at no point is hitting someone in the windpipe funny (this was also logged on the school’s referral system).
5) Sympathised with an S5 girl with a swollen knee (sent her to the PSA’s to get help).
6) Helped solve the mystery of why the kid with OCD had two fewer books on his shelf than on Monday (someone had taken them out).
7) Was concerned to hear one of the pupils could be pregnant and passed that information on to those who could help her. (Completed my hand written evidence after the bell went).
8 ) Discussed why Rangers and Celtic players should play by the SPL rules rather than feel they can just act anyway they want. Tried to explain flip side to the whole ‘it’s just what you do’ attitude.
9) Named 12 birds beginning with the letter P.
10) Discussed a range of topics with a range of other pupils including cute animals, Justin Bieber and the fact that it was World Book Day.
11) Caught 11 pupils reading and added them to the prize draw.
12) Introduced a new library monitor to the team.
There is no way to place a value on these interactions easily, though I do have anecdotal evidence of pupils improved behavior or social skills as a direct result of my investment.