You know, I think too much sometimes. The topic on this occasion: what is the purpose of a School Library at lunchtime?
Obvious answer is of course, the same as the rest of the time: reading, learning, teaching, fun, homework, study, careers, events, or just talk to the librarian. However, mine is not a school where the pupils are always keen to work away at lunchtime, and there are plenty of other activities taking place in other departments so rather than sit in an empty library, I’ve introduced a variety of activities.
For the last few years, a colleague and I have run the Photography Club once a week. The pupils come along to the Library, eat their lunch, relax and get to know each other (and the staff), and then we’ll either take some pictures, analyse existing photographs, work on Photoshop or discuss entries for competitions. We’ve had 1st years to 6th years, some only there for the craic and companionship and some for genuine interest in photography.
Successful bids bought a handful of wee cameras to use in wanders through the local country park and for photography jobs to do in the school. We also took the group to Summerlee, an industrial museum in Coatbridge on the site of an old ironworks. They have a photography studio subsidised by the council to work with school groups where we headed for a session on lighting and portraits. A great opportunity for the group to work with some professional equipment (and professional photographers!)
This year we decided to do something slightly different. We still run the club at lunchtime, but this time my colleague suggested submitting the pupils for a qualification. We invited all previous members along for a discussion of the idea, but only serious photographers showed up, all of whom were enthusiastic about the idea and it’s been much . It’s been running well ever since.
Last year I ran a Stuff’n’Things Club which was basically a little bit of everything: games, puzzles, competitions, storytelling, reading, cool websites, crafts. It grew out of a Creative Writing Club which dissolved when nobody had time to write or wanted to share their writing, but the usual mix of enthusiasts and attention seekers didn’t really work. Stuff’n’Things worked well at keeping pupils’ attention, and it wasn’t a problem if some people didn’t show for a while. Meanwhile, discussions with the dedicated creative writers have led to another club (run after school) called And Now This! that I’ve written about elsewhere.
Well, libraries should be there for everybody, that goes without saying, so it is better to have a library that’s in greater use overall but off-limits to non-club members two days a week, or a generally open library that isn’t so busy? My inclination is to the former, but it doesn’t stop me wondering, especially after I’ve read something wonderful from another school librarian.
What I need to remember is that Every Library is Different and Every Librarian is Different, and to accept the unacceptable:
YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING!!!!
*whispers* still fancy a graphic novel club though