Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Save our libraries no 3.

Libaries are not just buildings with books.They are living, breathing hearts of our communities. And amongst all the richness within the walls, the least valued by some, are the librarians. As a tax payer I would like to put in a plea for the safeguarding of assets that I have invested in for years. When councils talk of closing libraries one of the things they are doing is throwing away hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers money.
Librarians do not just stamp out books and put them back on the shelves.
To try and understand even a small part of what a school librarian does I asked a friend to write just a little about her work.
Here is one day:

A typical day in Francis Combe Academy Library

When I arrive at the library at 8am I am met by about 70 students. They are draped all over the libary and have been since 7.30. Some are reading, some are chatting, some are even doing homework. School has not yet begun! Put up news from the papers and email selection to whole school.

Between 8.30 and 9.00 another group of students, maybe a bit more structured arrive to change books, do quizzes on what they have read and do reserach for homework. This is followed by three lessons looking at library skills with year 7 , seeing how we can use them in our everyday school life. Today they have to trawl an encyclopdia to find a fact that astounds me. Some do mangage this. Its great fun and guess what they dont even realise that they are learning. Very competitive and after 3 lessons I feel quite knowledgable.

This is interspersed with break and lunch. Break for who, not us librarains. We are once again answering queries, looking for books and sorting out the odd squabble. There are 3 of us and it is still manic. Who else has 60 plus children in 1 area. Lunch is spent catching up with project partners to ensure we are all on target.

The afternoon is not so manic and I can catch up on shelving, adding books to library catalogue and planning for visiting authors . Oh no here comes another class researching Gothic Horror this time. Do I have time to help them do some research. Best made plans etc

School ends and unlike everyone else we have a room full of students doing homework. Sadly no time for the shelves or the stock or well, did I have lunch.

Best bit of the day. Assistant Head of Learning told me a boy in her class had been reading a book in isolation ( naughty chair in our time) and hadn't finished it. On finishing it he announced it was brilliant. Oh and he had never read a book before. Find the library she said.

List of jobs for tomorrow. Everything I didn't do today!
My thanks to Jayne Truran for that.
I have been to Jayne's school and the library was one of the busiest I have seen.
I do not trust the holders of the purse strings to have the good sense to realise what they are sweeping away so casualy.

I have no confidence in this government.


  1. Very interesting & lovely to hear how well used the schools library is. As you say generally libraries & librarians are dreadfully undervalued. I have a librarian cousin who was asked to run a high school library on a £100 annual budget...crazy!

    So often the people in charge complain that there is no interest in libraries, museums, heritage sites etc - really they are the ones that have no interest; with a bit more faith in good staff and a little financial investment these places thrive and become such a valued and important part of a community.

  2. Hear Hear !....couldn't agree more, Libraries and Librarians do an awesome job. Tonight I have not long returned from the local Library's Wednesday night "Story time" with the 3 children I have been Nannying for 7 years.
    It begins at 6.30pm and there are stories, singing and dancing, more stories, then some colouring in,finishes at 7pm.
    The little ones (15 of them) sit on 2 large, comfy mats with big cushions,most in pyjamas, all well behaved and enthralled.what a great idea, we will be going again (it has been well attended for many years)we had only been to the daytime sessions.
    3 cheers for the parents who make the effort to come along at a busy time on a school night.

  3. Jayne's 'Day in the Life' of a high school librarian sounded very much like most of mine. Definitely a high-stress career, but very, very gratifying. Too many hours and responsibilies...never enough funding, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything - neither would she, I think. We need our libraries and librarians.

  4. I too have absolutely no confidence in this Government. Mark Steel points out the utter rubbishness of 'Big Society' better than I possibly could: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mark-steel/mark-steel-the-caring-sharing-way-to-bad-times-2208412.html