Cathy Cassidy and Cathy MacPhail

Cathy Cassidy has written a piece for SLA on the importance of school libraries. You can read the whole thing here:

Meanwhile, there’s an article from Cathy MacPhail in Books from Scotland: ‘Every child deserves to see themselves, the people they are, reflected in a story

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Open letter from Children’s Laureates

Current Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, along with the previous Laureates, has written an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education regarding school libraries in England and Wales.


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Australia: School Libraries: the heart of 21st century learning

Advocacy document for Australian teacher-librarians, the majority of which also applies to school librarians in Scotland.

School libraries: the heart of 21st century learning

Teacher librarians combine a command of 21st century pedagogies and curricula with expertise in information science: the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination, and protection of information.

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Barry Hutchison

A pupil from Oban High School wrote to Barry Hutchison about her school library.

This is the letter and Barry’s reply.

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How do School Librarians promote employability?

Please share onwards.

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How do School Librarians close the attainment gap in their schools?

Please share onwards.

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Manifesto for Libraries

cilips_democraticknowledgeCILIPS have produced a Manifesto for Libraries, highlighting “the incredible return on investment and impact on key policy areas that libraries offer”, covering public libraries, school libraries, digital skills and a national reading strategy.

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Libraries are important

Guest Blog by Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) as part of the ‘Scotland’s Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation’ Campaign.


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What do Public Librarians and Library staff do?

An excellent list from 2011 of some of the tasks Librarians and Library staff get involved with.

Good starting point for us too.

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School Librarians in Scotland: SLIC Library Advocacy 2015

DVD commissioned by SLIC and Cilips School Library Advocacy Group to promote the work of School Librarians in Scotland, collated, edited and produced by Julie Sutherland, Librarian at Forrester High School, Edinburgh.

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National Libraries Day 2015

Taylor High School Library was featured on the National Libraries Day website about our work with the Art and Design Department. Can’t believe we missed it, check it out!

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Libraries in the Internet Age

Useful video from Common Craft outlining the continuing value of Libraries in the Information or ‘Internet’ Age.

Common Craft have plenty of other videos explaining social media, internet safety, technology and using information.

I recommend the videos about wikipedia and zombies.

If you want to make your own videos using the Common Craft cut-outs, you can also join for a fee.


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National Digital Learning Week 2015 article on Glow

Last week there was a letter in my tray from one of our DHT’s from Education Scotland about their initiative called ‘National Digital Learning Week 2015’. This particular event celebrated the use of technology in schools. What better way than promoting the work librarians make to their school community than a Wiki on Glow? As librarians, we use technology every day, so I thought, why not promote this very fact?

Have a look.

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Staff Reading Confessions at Taylor HS

Check out an article on the Scottish Book Trust website about a recent project at Taylor High School for World Book Day. Librarian, Anna Leslie, organised a series of Reading Confessions, with pupils interrogating teachers about their preferences.

The article was also featured on the ‘Save Scottish School Libraries’ Facebook page.

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Today in a Scottish School Library

tiassl2Today in a Scottish School Library (TIASSL for short) is a Twitter account that collates information from School Libraries and School Librarians across Scotland.

TIASSL helps all of us to share news and good practice across authorities and builds a  collection of material that we can use to advocate for School Libraries in Scotland. Since being set up in November, there are over 100 followers and over 1100 tweets.

TIASSL can be read at or click on Tweet Tunnel and type in TIASSL. You do not need a Twitter account to view it.

Material includes class reports, discussions, meetings, special events, news, discoveries, author visits, cataloguing, projects, recommendations, photographs and images, competitions, funding information, collaborations with other staff, advocacy, showing off, daft stuff, interdisciplinary learning, school trips, extra-curricular activities and perhaps most importantly, the normal day-to-day, period by period, management of the School Library.

You can submit to TIASSL in two ways:

1. if you have a Twitter account, just add @TIASSL to your tweets

2. if you do not have a Twitter account, you can email tiasslnews @ (removing the spaces from the address). Contributions should be 140 characters and include your school/library name.

TIASSL also seeks out Twitter accounts of school libraries from across Scotland and retweets their existing posts. As a result, there are contributions from School Librarians in North Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Falkirk, Aberdeenshire, Stirlingshire, North Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, Edinburgh, Angus, Perth and Kinross, West, Mid and East Lothian and Shetland (with an honourable mention for a former School Librarian, now English teacher, in South Lanarkshire :-))

Many thanks to everyone that already follows and contributes to sharing the amazing work of School Librarians across Scotland.

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SLIC survey

[Just discovered this was still marked as private so have published it properly at the relevant date – Jen]

Back at the end of September, Rhona Skea and I found ourselves discussing Quantitative Indicators (QIs) with SLIC staff at the Scottish Learning Festival. We were told that the QIs were returning to gather further evidence promoting school libraries. While both Rhona and I thought this was a good idea, we also expressed our concerns that the QIs, by themselves, did not draw a representative picture of our respective libraries.

So it was good news to discover that SLIC had organised a survey of pupils’ attitudes to school libraries to provide a qualitative element to the research. The questionnaire took the form of ten questions, drawing on the work of Ross Todd and Carol Kulhthau.

Initial questions:

  • could we see a copy of the survey?
  • would the survey be acceptable to Senior Management?
  • how many pupils could fill in the questionnaire in the available time?

Fortunately, SLIC were happy to provide a copy,  the Headteacher was very supportive and our PT PSHE was happy for classes to be extracted from Tutor Time (four times a week, 30 minutes each session). A quick trial run suggested ten minutes would be enough for a Tutor class, meaning three classes could complete the survey in each available session. Finally, senior pupils had a PSHE day forthcoming, with one period for each group in the Library for Careers information, so we planned the day’s activities to accommodate senior pupils completing the survey as well.

Operational issues:

  • in order to have the maximum time available, it was essential that the computers were already logged in and ready at the survey page. This wasn’t always possible depending on what had been happening in the Library the previous period and whether the computers behaved themselves or not. And of course, pupils are well trained to log off when they leave (argh!), meaning computers were constantly having to be reset.
  • given the constant demand for Library access, I could only book survey classes in the occasional vacant spot over the course of the month; there was no opportunity to make a buzz about the survey and it was easy for staff to forget that their class was booked in, requiring replacement bookings.
  • to give the pupils confidence in answering honestly, I explained that their responses were completely anonymous and that no-one in the school would see their answers or know who said what. However, this also led to some misunderstandings that could have been cleared up more quickly as pupils didn’t want anyone to ‘see the answers’ (see below)


  • a large minority of senior pupils indicated that they couldn’t fill in the form as they ‘didn’t use the Library’. Since many of the pupils in question had actually used the Library over the previous weeks, their comments were a little surprising. It was obvious that some simply chose the most negative answer throughout without reading the questions.
  • a group of worried S2 pupils sat muttering with each other, and eventually explained that they didn’t know how to answer the question about schoolwork because they ‘didn’t use the Library’. Again this made no sense as the pupils in this class had used the library just the previous day. When this was pointed out to them, they all asked if class visits could be included?The pupils assumed the questions only applied to lunchtime visits i.e. use of the Library by themselves rather than as part of a class.

    It would never have occured to me to make clear the concept of ‘using the Library’, but it might perhaps explain some of the S5/6 responses too. There’s no way of knowing for sure. I’m quite concerned that pupils are not understanding that visiting the Library within classes also means ‘using the Library’.

  • the same statements were questioned repeatedly because pupils didn’t understand them:

    The school library has helped me work out the main ideas in the information I find.
    The school library has helped me do my school work.
    The school library has helped make me more aware of my own skills and abilities.
    The school library has helped me develop clearer plans for my future.

    It appears that many pupils were confused by the distinction between ‘the school library’ and ‘the school librarian’.  The school librarian is a person; the school library is a room.

It was an exhausting initiative, but it was certainly an eye-opener. I’m looking forward to the results and seeing how my experiences compare with others.

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Library A to Z

Library A to Z is a collection of materials collated for “celebrating the wide-range of services, resources and facilities that make libraries so fantastic

There are plenty of resources for downloading and sharing via a Creative Commons licence or the book (and ebook) can be ordered.

Image by Josh Filhol [CC BY 4.0]

Image by Josh Filhol [CC BY 4.0]

Unfortunately, ‘school libraries’ aren’t included, although there are ‘school visits’ and ‘teachers (supporting schools)’, possibly because this was originally focused on public libraries.

However, the Creative Commons licence does allow adaptation so we could add it ourselves.

Check out the website at

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School libraries play a huge part in pupils’ education

Report in Coventry Telegraph, 17th October 2014

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Book Burning Party

Don’t freak out. Watch first.

Shared with permission.

Vimeo is not blocked in NLC schools.


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School libraries transform learning

sl_transformThis is an interesting magazine supplement from the American Library Association entitled School libraries transform learning available to read online or download as a PDF.

Covering topics such as advocacy, enthusiasm, reading, collaboration, campaigns, presentations, ICT and general library goodness, it’s worth a quick read.

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