Rachel Huskisson, school librarian, has been a member of Engaging and Empowering School libraries since June 2022. In the first of this series of blog posts that look at successes behind the membership she shares her personal achievement gained through writing her annual report.
I had been in my school for a year and had come across Elizabeth's blogs. I was just starting to see the end of term approaching and I felt relieved to have survived what had been a turbulent, yet exciting new role and writing an annual report was not on my radar.
I decided to have a go at writing a really basic report, mainly as a way of reminding myself of all of the things I had achieved that year. I had gone from being a library assistant to single-handedly running a library and it had been a steep learning curve, it really helped to be able to reflect.
Having the space over the summer to consider the year ahead, I started to ponder the idea of working towards CILIP Chartership, and decided it was time to get stuck in. As part of the process, I had to look at skills I wanted to develop and felt that advocacy was something I wanted to work on. What better place than to pick up where I left off and look at how the annual report could be used as a tool for advocacy.
But where to start? I couldn't find many examples online and was relieved to see that the SLA were running a course which I quickly signed up for, this was enlightening as they provided a template for a termly report which would help with the final report writing. I did feel happy sharing this with my line manager which immediately made these meetings feel more structured and gave me the confidence to raise issues.
Later that year, I signed up for Elizabeth's session on Annual report writing which really built on what I had been learning. The lightbulb moment for me was understanding the huge importance of linking in with school aims. I realised I had been having a great time, doing all of this wonderful stuff but actually, in order to really make an impact and for senior leaders to take notice, I had to use the right language and look at everything I do through the lens of the school aims. This was backed up by the requirement in my Chartership portfolio to give evidence of supporting my organisation's aims. Elizabeth also challenged me to think about who I was writing the report for and tailoring it for the right audience.
I found the report writing process really useful, it made me reflect on the year gone by and think about areas to focus on for the upcoming year. By having a clear idea of priorities at the start of the year, I have been able to work more strategically and gather the data needed to show the outcomes.
Why I Joined the membership
During Elizabeth’s session we were encouraged to talk with other delegates and I became aware of her membership. The people who were already members knew each other and it felt like an engaged and friendly group. I realised that although I had some great networks in place, this group was offering something that I was missing. The emphasis on developing librarianship skills around teaching information literacy through inquiry and reading for learning was something new for me and I wanted to learn more. I did join her membership after this session which enabled me to get involved with the forum discussion following this training. It helped me to think about my vision, library aims and terminology and it was great to continue the discussions after the training which is often missing from other training, and when I have the most questions. The community within the membership is really far reaching which means there is a real international flavour to the discussions, again, something I hadn’t been exposed to before and am really benefiting from.
Behind the Membership: Benefits
Once I was happy with the report, I sent it out to the Headteacher asking if it could be shared with governors, another suggestion of Elizabeth’s. She was really happy with it and shared it at the next meeting, which helped me to raise my profile within the school which was really important. I felt confident enough to share it with the SLA which helped them to build up a picture of school library impact on a national level. This all came about through being part of Elizabeth’s membership.
The whole process has given me more confidence to showcase the library and all of its programmes. I will be starting to put together this year’s report soon, and I am looking forward to showcasing the library and my achievements as well as thinking ahead to next year.
If you are looking to join a small but friendly membership that enables you to learn from an excellent trainer but also from each other I would recommend you look no further than Elizabeth’s membership Engaging and Empowering School Libraries.