NLS comes to Glasgow

In autumn 2016 the National Library of Scotland will open its doors for the first time in Glasgow within a transformed Kelvin Hall.

More information here from NLS.

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The Crisis of our Libraries: A Talk by Alan Gibbons

If the video doesn’t show, please click here.

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National Libraries Day 2015

Pupils and staff at Taylor High School, New Stevenston have been busy getting ready for National Libraries Day 2015 over the last couple of weeks. Our fabulous Art department and some of our S1/S2 pupils were asked to create and design murals for the library.

The idea originally came from one of the Scottish Book Trust’s projects for ‘Book Week Scotland 2014’. I then began thinking about how my school could incorporate this for National Libraries Day.

Firstly, I had a brief discussion with my colleagues in Art and gave each one a copy of the National Libraries Day logo for inspiration. I followed this up with an e-mail suggesting possible ideas. However, it was really my colleagues who had the most challenging task.

Mrs Devlin’s S2 class became involved and she stated;

“Like previous library activities my classes have taken part in, I was keen and so were my S2 class to illustrate all the fantastic and wonderful things that happen in our school library.”

I gave each teacher and their classes the freedom to choose how to create their mural but asked them to follow three simple rules. These included;

(1)It must promote the work of the library.
(2) The mural can be completed as a class assignment or during lunchtimes.
(3) It should be either A3 or A4 in size.

S1 and S2 classes took part in this activity during their Art periods and the final results were nothing short of amazing. Each mural’s interpretation of life at Taylor High School library differed.

One of our S2 pupils commented;

“The activity was fun and different, a twist on what we normally do in Art. I am proud that our class’s mural is on the wall outside the library.”

Each mural depicted different aspects of life in the library. One was a collage and the other was inspired by the comic book format and both offered a valuable insight into life in the school library and the role it plays in our school community.

Mrs Ferguson’s S1 Art class also took part. She commented;

“My class were really enthusiastic about this project and came up with some amazing ideas. Once the class began to discuss possible ideas for the mural, there was no stopping them. As a class, they decided to design a mural like a comic book but using fictional characters from Beatrix Potter stories and Roald Dahl books to tell our community about life at Taylor High school library. ”

These artistic creations would not have been a success without the support and enthusiasm of my colleagues. It was a huge compliment to the library, as the murals proved our pupils hold our school library in high regard.

Thanks to all the staff and pupils who took part in this wonderful project.

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Librarians’ industrial injuries

Paper cuts: small but mighty!

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Cookie Monster’s first visit to the Library

An oldie but a goodie.

Shared with permission.

NB Vimeo is not blocked in NLC schools.

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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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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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St Aidan’s High celebrates Roald Dahl Week

With Roald Dahl Day falling on a Saturday this year (13 September), I knew the library would celebrate it in the week leading up to that date. And as it was my first big book event in St Aidan’s, I decided that the whole week would be devoted to Dahl.

As this year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we used that novel for our theme. The week before our events, our newly recruited army of pupil library helpers prepared the library, with the help of some talented S6 pupils, by turning it into Wonka’s chocolate room, complete with a chocolate river flowing through the centre and an Augustus Gloop-filled pipe. By the start of our Roald Dahl Week, the scene was set.

Monday lunchtime introduced pupils to the characters of Charlie… as they were given the opportunity to interview Mr Wonka and an Oompa Loompa (aka a couple of very game teachers!) and find out about their lives in the chocolate factory.

On Tuesday, the chocolate room truly lived up to its name as pupils were invited to make their own sweets from mixed fruit, marshmallows and the contents of a chocolate fountain. Beforehand, pupils enjoyed some time standing about in the playground as, in pure synchronicity, the school fire alarm happened to go off at the same time as I accidentally burned the chocolate in a smoke-billowing microwave. (I will remember that moment should I ever be interviewed for CILIP Update’s “Most embarrassing professional moment”.) Back inside, and with fresh chocolate, pupils were also able to sample some teacakes gifted to us from Tunnock’s as well as goodies provided by our pupil Fair Trade group. And all this to the accompaniment of my dulcet tones reading aloud Augustus Gloop’s story – a warning about chocolate-gluttony if ever there was one.


Wednesday was a much more peaceful affair, with our writing group creating adverts for their Roald Dahl inspired inventions. Top inventions included the Eye Glass (texting, facetiming and TV watching all available via your lenses when you put your glasses on), Hover Boots for when you’re tired of walking, and the Clobber Cupboard (giving you complete, ready-to-wear outfits). After all that excitement, we needed a relaxing finale, so we ended the week with a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film show (accompanied by the left-over teacakes).

The week’s events have seen our lunchtime visits soar, a trend which will hopefully continue over the next few weeks as we launch the Scottish Children’s Book Awards.

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Guardian: Scores of authors lobby government to act on school libraries

Report in Guardian regarding the letter to Government. This report’s findings apply to England, but all advocacy is good advocacy 🙂

Text published with permission of Alan Gibbons:

The report of the Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group, entitled The Beating Heart of the School, last week concluded that “it is vital that all schools have a good library to ensure children develop essential literacy and digital literacy skills in order to fulfill their potential.”

Responding, Schools Minister David Laws said: “Reading for pleasure and study has a well-documented positive impact on children’s educational attainment across the curriculum.”

We, authors and illustrators, teachers, librarians, parents and others, are keen that this recommendation does not just become another piece of wishful thinking and call on the Department of Education to act immediately on the report’s conclusions to gather data on library provision and instruct Ofsted to include libraries in its remit. This is urgent. Schools lost 280 librarians last year. At the very least the Department should convene a working group including librarians’, authors’, head teachers’ and teachers’ representatives to draw up an action plan to realise the aim of a good library in every school.

Alan Gibbons

Campaign for the Book

Signed by  … etc

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School libraries: open letter

Alan Gibbons is launching an authors’ letter calling on the Department of Education to act urgently on the recommendations of the All Parliamentary Group on School Libraries.

Anyone interested in the promotion of libraries or education can sign, including librarians, teachers, artists, software engineers, lollipop personnel, parents, and absolutely anyone else!

The letter will be published in The Guardian on Thursday 17th July, and the greater the number of signatories the better.

If you would like to read the letter with a view to signing, email Alan at mygibbo @ (removing the spaces) or check out his Facebook page.

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The Beating Heart of the School

beatingheartCILIP have reported the findings of the Libraries All-Party Parliamentary Group research on school libraries.

The Beating Heart of the School: improving educational attainment through school libraries and librarians makes four recommendations which will only be applicable in England. However, reference is made to the situation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and most of the research is applicable to the Scottish situation too.

Click on the image to view the report.

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SLIC – School Library research

From the SLIC website

SLIC has commissioned Robert Gordon University (RGU) to undertake research into the impact of school libraries, which was launched at the Scottish Learning Festival 2013. Download the flyer (PDF) showing a summary of findings. Full details of this project, including the RGU final report, will be available here soon. If you would like notification of publication, please contact

Impact of School Libraries. Used with permission SLIC

Impact of School Libraries. Used with permission SLIC. Click for larger size.

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Author Kirkland Ciccone visits Coltness High School

Kirkland Ciccone with pupils from Coltness High School.

Kirkland Ciccone with pupils from Coltness High School.

We had a visit from author Kirkland Ciccone on Friday 13th September to talk to fourth year pupils about his debut young adult novel entitled Conjuring the Infinite. The book is set in a youth offenders’ institute for troubled teenagers.   It’s a cracking read, revealing a world of sorcery, supernatural powers, with a good mystery thrown in. Kirkland was very funny and entertaining but his enthusiasm for books was really plain for all to see. Kirkland also writes and performs in his own one man shows for theatre. He is also in the middle of writing his second young adult novel.

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Advanced Higher English go to Glasgow

This year at Our Lady’s we have a large Advanced Higher English class. The Principal Teacher of English and I worked with the students before the holidays to help them identify possible dissertation topics. A lot of fun and really stretching the biblio-brain, coming up with titles that match their ideas.

Meanwhile, I also contacted Glasgow University Library (GUL) to arrange access for the group. The University offers reference access for Advanced Higher students, providing them with a ticket that admits them for a year, and extending the opportunity to browse the Library’s book and journal collections, which are just a wee bit bigger than a standard school library (7,000 vs 2.8 million). We also offered to organise tickets for other pupils studying Advanced Highers in school – they chose not to come along so early in the term.

We spent a couple of periods with the class to talk to them about what to expect: the importance of proper searching, note-making, the resources available to them, the classification system and how useful references can be. The AH tickets do not include a GUL computer password, so abstracts and online journals were unavailable, and resources had to be searched in advance. However, it did encourage the pupils to get to grips with the OPAC for themselves, which led to lots of questions:

What’s this book got to do with my topic?

Why does this catalogue number say Politics, not Literature?

How do I choose which ones to go for?

And of course,

I can’t find anything.

We hit the express bus on a beautiful autumn morning, and an hour or so later, collected the tickets waiting for us at the information desk, and headed for the lifts.

The pupils took a while to get the hang of the different classification system, so there was a fair bit of work required to point out the classification boards at the end of the stacks and demonstrate how the system worked, but everyone got something they were interested in, and sat down to read.

Of course, it wasn’t all plain sailing. Having pupils spread across so many floors was a bit disconcerting, and I was a bit put out when a librarian asked if we had a problem – whispered conversations on the clearly marked SILENT floor are obviously not encouraged :oops:. Reading an academic writing style is obviously something that needs a bit of practice, and some pupils were a bit taken aback by the sheer number of resources available.

In retrospect we should have organised a whole day out of school, but we’ll definitely be back. In fact, we had to drag the pupils away with the lure of lunch, but we felt that perhaps a couple of hours was enough for a first visit. We’ll see if the students continue to use their tickets in their own time.

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Library Rangers

Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, who create the Unshelved comic strip have created ‘Library Rangers‘  complete with badges and merchandise.

From the website:

Fun library-themed patches to reward outstanding service, advertise your mad skills, or just start interesting conversations.

Worth a look, even if you don’t want to buy anything, just to feel appreciated for a wee while.

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Neil Gaiman – feral library child

If you’re feeling in need of appreciation, have a gander at this interview from 2010 with Neil Gaiman.

We’ve gone from looking at a desert, in which a librarian had to walk into the desert for you and come back with a lump of gold, to a forest, to this huge jungle in which what you want is one apple. And at that point, the librarian can walk into the jungle and come back with the apple. So I think from that point of view, the time of librarians, and the time of libraries—they definitely haven’t gone anywhere.

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Bash Street School Library

Bash Street School had its new library opened today by Prince Charles and Camilla in their Scottish guises as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.

Good to see another school library opening in Scotland 🙂

Link to BBC story

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D.E.A.R (Drop Everything and Read)

On Thursday 7th March pupils from Chryston High School took part in a D.E.A.R session, organised by Mrs Connor, as part of World Book Day 2013.

DEAR poster

D.E.A.R stands for Drop Everything and Read and the session lasted for the full 20 minutes of tutor time.

Every pupil in the school either brought in their own reading material or read a book supplied from the school library.

The purpose of the event was to promote World Book Day across the school and also to encourage the pupils to read for pleasure.

As a librarian is was amazing to walk the corridors during Tutor Time and see all the classes reading quietly and pupils totally absorbed in the stories they were reading.

D.E.A.R D.E.A.R DSCF1970 DSCF1972

The session has received positive feedback from both pupils and teachers who hope it will become a regular occurrence.

Some feedback from the Tutor Time teachers;

‘Just wanted to say thank you for organising the big read!  It was so nice a relaxed in tutor time and I would love to see it happening on a regular basis!’

‘I really enjoyed it. I think that most of the kids in the class did too – even although many of them were telling me that they never read for pleasure! Only one or two kids chatted quietly. Even the kids who said that they found reading boring sat quietly with their book.
It was really well organised. There was plenty of notice so that I could ask them about what book they’d be bringing in (we had a chat about some of the books we were reading etc) and give them lots of reminders to bring it. Having said that, several kids didn’t have a book with them but managed to pick something from the selection that was delivered from the library. One of the seniors who did this wants to keep reading the book that she borrowed.
I was really shocked at the number of pupils who don’t read for pleasure so I think that it’s definitely worth doing to try to encourage them more.
Thanks very much for organising it.’

I have had lots of pupils come in to borrow the book they were reading from the library which is always a good sign.

As a school we are hoping to have a D.E.A.R session every term then depending on how that goes maybe make it every month. I would love for it to happen every week so that the pupils get the chance to finish a book but one step at a time.

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World Book Day – Mystery Book


My wondrous pupil librarians had loads of fun on Wednesday as I coaxed them into wrapping up loads of books.  WHAT??

WELL, my plan was to run a no-frills “Mystery Book” event during lunchtime on World Book Day: simply wrap up a combo of short stories, poems, chick lit, quality stuff That I Really Want Them To Read like Skellig (I’m not biased at all) and books about space, shove them in a box, and market the event to the whole school in the spectacular hope I’ll see some new faces in the LRC. Anyhow, it turned out to be quite fiddly as my team had to remember to note barcodes on the gifttags so that we could issue the stuff through our trusty catalogue! After all, how else would we know what was going out?!

Providing a range of snacks – always useful for promoting literacy- worked magically as it had for National Poetry Day in October.  Over 50 pupils, 20 of which were newbies, came in desperate to see what manner of other world would befall them as they raked through the box of dazzling, glittering rectangles (some of which were wrapped in Christmas paper), and experienced unbearable itching as they proceeded to transport items to the lending desk. 

Of course, running such an event does have its drawbacks: a certain unnamed citizen impulsively tore paper from a book prematurely, deciding it wasn’t their Sort Of Read. The penalty for this was 1) they now had to actually BORROW that book and 2) they had to read at least ONE CHAPTER before returning it; such a compromise worked to preserve their right to the last sausage roll.

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