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Developing a model for school libraries in Scotland: recent PhD research

Presentations from the Autumn Gathering are available here.

Highlight of an inspiring day for me. Cristina is aiming to create a model for an ideal school library in Scotland, by identifying the elements that would enable the library to meet a high professional standard.

The case studies involved three schools in the USA and two high schools in Scotland, and compared the same elements in each location:

  • school environment: culture, management and resources
  • professional associations: national and local branches
  • librarians: dispositions and strategic vision

Naturally, a lot of Cristina’s model focused on that from the US, and described a culture where managers view librarians as having an area of expertise within the education system, integral to the education of pupils; a curriculum supported by teachers and librarians collaborating on shared objectives; with clerical support that allows the librarian to work strategically with pupils and teaching staff, rather than be stuck at their desk (which brings us neatly back to the SLIC research from the morning).

Impact of School Libraries (SLIC, 2013)

Impact of School Libraries (SLIC, 2013)

Most importantly though, Cristina’s model reviewed the disposition of a school librarian, characterised as

one who persistently seeks, sees and seizes opportunities to work with teachers

as well as being welcoming to all students, keeping up with current developments in curriculum, technology, literature and best practice, and determined to promote and develop the library to support the goals of the school and pupil/staff requirements.

She also recommended a strong local peer support network working to share knowledge and solve problems, which led neatly on to the five minute shout-outs: presentations from school librarians in Grangemouth, Glasgow and Edinburgh, discussing initiatives they’d been a part of. This was an outstanding opportunity to be reminded that each school is different, and each librarian is responding to the needs of their school, with celebrations of local minority cultures, getting involved with local competitions, promotion of books in all shapes and sizes, and the Patron of Readng programme.

Both Cristina’s model and the SLIC impact model are reliant on support from management, which, of course, requires more advocacy from us to ensure such a level of support.

It’s also important to recognise that the majority of school librarians I know of who left their posts, did so for more money, or for a role with greater recognition, making such support absolutely essential.

Hopefully, some of the work discussed here at the Autumn Gathering will be valuable tools in the fight for librarians from all sectors.