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We have a school library so why do we need to use a Schools Library Service?

I regularly write about how important it is for teachers to use their school library and to work alongside their school library staff. I like to point out that there is really no excuse not to, when we know that collaborating with your school librarian leads to increased academic attainment. Having worked for a Schools' Library Service (SLS) for the last 15 years with a slight 18 month detour in a school library, I have seen how it works when teachers 'get it'. Collaboration and engagement are paramount to student success and I am strong advocate of the importance of every school having a qualified librarian, but where does that leave our SLS's.

If a school has a good school library with library staff why would you need a SLS? Well you wont be surprised to hear that I think that it is beneficial for all schools whether they have a librarian or not to be working with their SLS.

One of the things that I found when I was a school librarian was the loneliness of being a librarian surrounded by teachers. The constant battle to want to make a difference, the frustration of not being able to do this quickly enough and not having the budget to buy all the stock I needed. Having access to a group of librarians from an SLS gave me the moral support that I needed in times of crisis. Somewhere to turn if I did not know the answer and a wonderful source of knowledge, stock and support when I needed it.

Now that I am Head of the SLS in Guernsey I understand more about school libraries than ever before. The demands on their budgets, the barriers to collaboration, the lack of time for both teachers and library staff to name a few so what can SLS's do to support teachers and school library staff to make life easier?

From my point of view if a school is buying into an SLS (our schools here in Guernsey can access our service for free!) they are making huge saving due to the fact that a centralised collection of resources that can be shared across several schools which is far more cost effective than every school having to buy their own books.

Our service includes:-

  • Changing your library fiction stock via SLS on a yearly basis can refresh and enhance your school library stock giving your students access to more choice than you could buy. (They will even deliver, make it shelf ready and take it back!)

  • Supply good quality, up to date, curriculum resources that you don't have the budget to buy or room to store. (They deliver them the term you need them and take them away again!)

  • Provide access to book awards, author events, specialist knowledge of fiction and lots of ideas to promote reading for pleasure across the school.

SLS's provide access to professional support which can enhance teaching and learning through:-

  • Collaborative teaching of information and digital literacy across the curriculum to enhance independent learning.

  • Expert knowledge in referencing, plagiarism, copyright and academic honesty.

So if you don't have school library staff this service is essential in order to ensure your children have continued access to good quality resources and access to professional support to enhance academic attainment. If you do have library staff SLS will increase what you can offer and give you the support of a team around you so you are not on your own.

I know that there are many schools that do not have access to either a school librarian or an SLS in their county so it is worth looking that the SLS UK website to find out where the closest support is to you. Find them and use them!

Our aim is to support independent learning and literacy across our schools and together we can do this better!

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