Just like most schools, at Ibstock Place School, we want our school library to lie at the heart of all that we do; unsurprisingly, this ambition means ensuring that we develop a strategic focus on raising the profile of the Library amongst our teachers, our parents and – most importantly – our body of pupils. To this end, we have developed two schemes which involve the pupils themselves. Through both qualitative and quantitative feedback, we are pleased to report, moreover, that these initiatives have worked. As our pupils have contributed to the growth and development of the Library, their appreciation and interaction thereof has likewise increased – and its profile has been raised.
Pupil Acquisitions Committee
We began our Pupil Acquisitions Committee to ensure that the reading-for-pleasure materials which we add to our library reflect the interests of our pupils. Two terms per year, we enlist at least one pupil from each tutor group to participate in this committee which meets twice throughout the term. At the first meeting, we ask pupils to come prepared with suggestions for books (or, indeed, types of books) they would like to see in the Library. We ask them to become ambassadors for their tutor group, cultivating a list which represents the interest of their classmates and friends. Interestingly, each of these meetings bears particular themes which are commonly requested by the pupils. Last year, one of our meetings revealed a taste for greater dystopian literature; at our most recent meeting, over fifty percent of pupil participants came prepared with requests for more tragedies.
After this first meeting, the list of requests is collated and a collection of books is ordered from our nearby bookseller. Our second committee meeting invites back the same group of pupils so as to evaluate the books ordered based on their recommendations. We are fortunate to have an agreement with Heath Books which is located not far from our school; it provides us with 15-20 books to evaluate after each of these committee meetings, after which we return the ones we choose not to keep for the Library.
Our committee has proven essential to profile-raising in our Library – our pupil committee cultivates ambassadors who are familiar and enthusiastic about our Library collections and they then work to increase the engagement of their friends and classmates.
Our second initiative to improve our Library's profile through pupil engagement is through our enlistment of 'Reading Assistants'. On each occasion that our Library receives a batch of new reading-for-pleasure materials, our Reading Assistants are called upon to help the Librarian by reading and reviewing them. A call for Reading Assistants is issued on a frequent basis; the pupils who nominate themselves reap the benefit of being the first to view and read our new books, thereafter writing a short review for our Library catalogue. Each Assistant receives a reward for each book they read and review.
This has proven to be a very popular initiative for our keen readers who enthusiastically promote these books to their friends and classmates. It has resulted in new acquisitions being quickly publicised across the pupil body which means, in turn, that they become the most popular reads of the year!
Written by Angela Platt BA MSc MA MCLIP
Librarian & Archivist
Candidate Support Officer & Blog Editor
CILIP London Member Network
CILIP Library & Information History Group