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Armed with the latest knowledge about school libraries gave me inner confidence

Nalayini Indran is a school librarian at Hendon School and has been a member of Engaging and Empowering School Libraries from the beginning. I have seen her flourish and grow and I am delighted to share her blog as part of my Behind the Membership series.


Poster for behind the membership series
Behind the Membership by Nalayini Indran

Starting my Career Journey


I have worked in libraries for over 25 years across five London Boroughs, spanning various sectors including public, medical, and school. After completing my first degree I began my career as an Archivist in Sri Lanka and upon relocating to the UK, I initially anticipated starting from scratch. However, fuelled by my passion for books and libraries, I redirected my focus and pursued an MA in Library and Information Management. This decision enabled me to qualify as a librarian, leading to various positions ranging from Library Assistant to Librarian, and Library Service Manager.


All those years haven't been without their challenges, such as redundancies and the reduction of libraries. However, I have learned a great deal from these experiences. Working with various partnerships and projects has presented valuable learning opportunities about myself, interacting with others, serving the community, promoting literacy, and understanding the evolving role of librarians. I still firmly believe that not only the experiences, but continuous professional development (CPD) is invaluable and has consistently enriched my career journey and shaped me as a librarian.


Becoming a School Librarian


The years I have spent in this role have brought a deeper sense of impact and meaning into my career. Initially, I started to enjoy working and put all my effort into delivering the best service to develop a culture of reading and reading for pleasure with reader development initiatives which is what I understood school libraries to be all about.


Continuing with CPD


Recognising the crucial need to advocate for the essential role of librarians in students reading and learning, I felt the need to educate/inform school staff about the importance of librarians’ role within the educational setting. To equip myself with the necessary knowledge and skills for this task, I remained committed to my CPD actively pursuing courses and maintaining memberships with esteemed organisations such as CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), SLA (School Library Association), and other professional organisations which have been crucial to my journey. Notably, I also joined Elizabeth Hutchinson’s membership, further enriching my professional knowledge and understanding.


Armed with the latest knowledge about school libraries

 

Being a member of Elizabeth’s Engaging and Empowering School Libraries membership has given me a deeper understanding of school librarianship and how we can play a significant role in the school setting as a librarian. I now understand that it extends far beyond the traditional focus on delivering reading-for-pleasure activities, illuminating the profound impact librarians play in shaping student education and learning experiences. I have gained insights into innovative strategies and approaches that have made me more effective in communicating and working collaboratively with teaching staff and departments to support students’ learning. It has taken my knowledge and understanding of school libraries to the next level and beyond.

 

The weekly updates to read, listen to, or watch something about school libraries have also helped me consistently build up my industry awareness and stay up-to-date with the latest developments within school libraries. It was also really encouraging to see how great an emphasis Elizabeth placed on providing only the most thorough training and updates to her members, which included deep insights into interesting trends and their convergence with the education sector, including artificial intelligence. This allows me to open up conversations with teaching staff to discuss the impact these trends could have on teaching and learning.

 

The training sessions and discussions have been invaluable in building my inner confidence and communication skills. Armed with the latest knowledge and a deep understanding of the role of the school library from the resources provided, the workshops – especially those around Inquiry Learning – provided me with a great space to learn about how best to open conversations with teaching staff and departments regarding reshaping the school library and reading environment and how best we can apply these to positively impact student learning outcomes. Through this, I was also able to apply these key learnings and experiences to some of my classes in our school and look forward to doing more in the future.

 

I do encourage you to take a look at Elizabeth’s membership. It really is a friendly place to learn and grow.

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