For more than seventeen years I have been a school librarian. When I first started I could not have managed without the advice, support and help of the School Library Association (SLA).
If you care about your school library then SLA can help you too. Anyone who believes that encouraging a love of reading in our schools is vital already knows that we need a professional librarian in each and every one of them. However the harsh reality is that this is not a financial possibility for an increasing number of schools at present. This has resulted in time-pressed teachers and TAs often being given responsibility for the school library, particularly in the primary sector. Sadly a large number of county School Library Services are closing too thus depriving schools of that valuable source of advice and resources. Membership of the SLA provides schools with contact with professional librarians and this ensures that you are able to benefit from their experience, knowledge and skills, albeit at a slight distance.
So how can the School Library Association help you?
- Advice and information by telephone or email is available for all members. SLA’s professional staff can provide advice on setting up a school library from scratch or how to make the most of an existing one. The newly revamped website also provides advice for non members. The support for the primary sector can be accessed here.
- The SLA website provides freely downloadable resources for both the primary and secondary sectors. These resources include, guidance on book selection, funding and budgeting plus creating library policies, organising author visits, e-books, preparing for inspection and loads more. It’s brilliant and I have found it a huge help. There are also a range of brilliant reasonably priced publications such as Riveting Reads for all age groups, Amazing Apps for Primary Schools, Picture Books for 0-90, A World of Books in Translation and loads more.
- A free quarterly journal, The School Librarian, is sent to all members. This includes reviews of books for all ages from Infant to Sixth Form and articles about best practice. I think the ict@SLA section edited by the brilliant Bev Humphrey (@libwithattitude http://www.bevhumphrey.com/ ) is particularly helpful as it provides information about websites/online resources/blogs with an evaluation of each. It is possible to download an example of the journal on the SLA website.
- A comprehensive training programme is run by SLA both on-line and countrywide. Members are able to attend regional training days at a discount however non-members are also made very welcome. The online primary library course is particularly attractive and helpful for non-librarians and is definitely worth a look. There is also a mentoring service available for new school librarians.
- Last but most definitely not least are the local branches where you can meet with other members and compare experiences, get new ideas and plan joint ventures. These branches usually organise visits by speakers or trainers to the local meetings. Over the years I have been lucky enough to listen to children’s books experts Prue Goodwin, Julia Eccleshare and Imogen Russell Williams, storyteller Patrick Ryan, a couple of School Librarians of the Year and many more! Despite not having an artistic bone in my body I learned how to create attractive displays and games that would appeal to students. It is these local meetings that helped to keep me sane in the early years and are most definitely worth the membership fee alone.
This is just a very brief look at the many helpful resources available.
So now you know how the School Library Association can help you what are you waiting for? All of this is available to you whether a librarian, a teacher, a TA or a volunteer parent for £89 per year. An absolute bargain! Visit the new updated website for more information. The SLA helped me it can definitely help you too.
The School Library Association together with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has launched the Great School Libraries Campaign to secure school library funding and establish a national framework for school libraries. If you care about school libraries and librarians please visit the official website to find out more.