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Case Studies Made Simple!

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

There are two strands to collecting data for the Campaign. One is quantitative – that’s being done via the survey – and the other is qualitative – which is why we need case studies. Both are important but the latter is where we will be able to show our impact and the more we have, the wider and more diverse we can demonstrate the value of what we do, the better. What we need to show is the difference having a school librarian makes.

Okay, I know that schools without librarians celebrate World Book Day, have author visits and run book groups. But I also know from my own experience and from talking to others how much more impact all these activities have when they have the input of a librarian. Somebody to follow up events, to encourage participation, to use the activity as a springboard for even more ideas to get students reading.

I’ve received several case studies already but I’m greedy and want more. The ones I have range from reading interventions to running book groups to writing clubs for disadvantaged pupils to information literacy lessons. It doesn’t have to be an all-singing all-dancing project (although if you’ve got one of those and want to let us know about it that’s great), even the smallest thing can have an impact as we all know.

  • Do you deliver an information literacy session on Keywording/search skills? Did you notice students were better at searching afterwards, that they were getting more accurate results quicker? Ask then if they found the lesson useful and the impact it’s had? Ask their teacher if they’ve noticed any difference?

  • Do you create regular books displays? Do these result in more borrowing of the displayed books, students asking for books by the same author or more books on the same topic?

  • Do you shadow any national or local book awards? Does your group attract new students to the library? How many carry on visiting and using the library afterwards? How many read outside their comfort zone, are introduced to new authors and/or genres?

There is a template to use for your case study but it’s only a guide and we’re not looking for a huge amount of information. You may not be able to fill in every section fully – that doesn’t matter. The important thing is the outcome, what difference it made, what impact it had.

For example:

WHAT: Book talks to year 7 library lessons. There are 8 lessons over a period of two weeks. A selection of stock was chosen to promote to the groups, a mix of new titles and contemporary classics, including fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels and poetry.

WHY: To increase students’ knowledge about books, authors and resources in the library. To encourage them to try something new.

REFERENCE: General discussion about introducing new books to classes on School Librarian Network (online forum).

OUTCOMES: – An increase in loans of the books featured in the book talks.

An increase in loans of books by the same authors.An increase in Year 7 knowledge about the library stock.More students asking for help during library lessons to find “something interesting to read”.Students discussing the books they have borrowed and read, recommending books to each other in lessons.20 books were discussed in each lesson; on average 10/12 were borrowed and approximately half of students who returned those asked for further books to read for pleasure.Student remarked “I never knew the library had this type of book” (referring to graphic novels).

LEGACY: To ensure book talks are a regular feature in the Year 7 library lesson programme. Also to consider extending this to Year 8 lessons to introduce new books.

ADVICE: – Feature a wide range of books and different genres in the talks – Ensure you have a good stock of other books by the same author – Will need regular new stock added to the library to use in the book talks, particularly if you expand this to other year groups.

Ready to try yours? Here is your case study template.

Written by Barbara Band - School Library and Reading Consultant

Photo by Sophie Elvis on Unsplash

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