Today has been the most tiring day and the one that has been the hardest physically but it’s been so worth it. This morning I got to visit The Hive, Europe’s first joint University and Public Library. It’s based in Worcester and looks like this:
It is spread over five floors, and in addition to the public and university libraries brings together the Worcestershire Hub (dealing with county council issues), county archaeology service and county archives. There are meeting rooms and a small performance space – this currently hosts a fascinating display of the things that were discovered when they dug the foundations ready to build the library.
I was there this morning both to be shown around and to join the vast team of library staff who are all working every possible hour to get all of the stock onto the shelves ready for the opening on Monday. The tour around was brilliant, there are so many exciting features to see in this library – I’ve already planned a visit with my parents so I can show it all off to them, and also get to see the library with users in it. I felt that The Hive had a lovely feel to it, there’s lots of wood everywhere which helps to make it feel warm and inviting. There’s loads more I could say, but instead I shall point you to the website for The Hive here.
For the shelving part of my visit I joined in with the adult fiction shelving, they’ve combined the public and university library fiction collections, most of the books that can fit on the shelves are out now so we were filling in any gaps from the stock they have stored. Based on previous openings they expect anything between 25 and 50 percent of the stock to be loaned on the first day of opening so they have plenty ready and waiting to fill the shelves back up.
Once we were back at the base this afternoon I spent some time helping to assemble and move shelving units – I didn’t expect this placement to require the use of screwdrivers and pliers though I was more than willing to get stuck in to a bit of handywork. We managed to get the new arrangement of shelving half filled, finishing that will probably be tomorrow afternoon’s task.
I ended the day by spending time with the Service Development Coordinator for Children and Families. She explained her role and talked through the various initiatives that she and her job share partner are involved with. It was really interesting both in terms of hearing what they do and also in why the role was created – these service development posts came as a result of a service wide review a few years ago that changed the structure of staffing across public libraries.
One thing I did decide today was that I’m going to volunteer for the Summer Reading Challenge this year, it’s a way I can see through one of things I’ve been hearing all about on my placement and something that I think will be great fun.
Today was spent at the base all day but it was filled with lots of interesting things. The first half of the morning was spent in a meeting where the team started to put together the business plan for the next year. I didn’t really have anything to contribute to this but it was interesting to hear about how these plans get drawn up and how they fit together in the wider picture.
A lot of the rest of the day was spent with the stock manager who has the oversight for the stock across all of the public libraries in the local authority. He runs the stock management unit that shares the building with the schools’ library service, it was great to find out more about what they do. I was able to link what he was saying in with what I’d learnt in my Collection Management module, and it was nice to be able to ask questions about what I’d learnt and to get a better understanding of some of the issues around collection management. He also showed me a stock management system that they use called SmartSM, this appealed so much to my geeky statistics loving brain.
Today’s sorting job that I did was to put the fairytale and mythology books back into order. I enjoyed this because it meant I had the opportunity to see the sorts of children’s books there are in this area which is one that interests me a lot.
This morning when I arrived at the office my supervisor put me straight to work checking a long list of books to see if they were eligible to make it onto the longlist for the teen book award that is run in the county. I enjoyed doing this, the criteria are pretty simple – the book must have been first published in the UK within a specified year (runs November – October), must be suitable for readers aged 11 – 14 and must not be a sequel. There were a few books where I had to do a bit of investigating, Amazon’s increasing tendency to import US releases does muddy the water quite often. There were also books that I discovered were being republished so they couldn’t qualify. The list as it stands is looking quite healthy and I’ve found over the course of the day that I’ve thought of books that I know should be added to the list – I think the committee who will have to narrow it down to the longlist will have plenty to discuss at their meeting!
I also was given the opportunity to help with the selection of another project box, this time on the topic of China for year 7 (11 – 12 year olds). This was a different process to last week’s box, we found an existing box that had been made up for the topic, checked to see how suitable its contents were for the target group and substituted a couple of books. There are more requests now coming in for project boxes so next week I should get to do more of this. I’m looking forward to this, it should be a good opportunity to extend my knowledge of non-fiction, what’s suitable for what age group, and Dewey (we use Library of Congress in the university libraries I work in so my Dewey knowledge is worryingly poor).
I finished the morning by putting together an initial suggestion of a session plan for the public libraries who will be holding Reception class visits for the Booktime pack when it’s launched. The books that will be included in the pack have now been announced though the resources to go with them aren’t on the website yet so I had to be rather vague. It’s definitely a starting point that can be used when they have the planning meeting though.
This afternoon was spent at a meeting for the teen book award. It was mainly agreeing things about the organisation of the next award, a lot of these discussions came out of the discussions that had taken place in the meetings I’d attended in my first week so it was really good to have seen both ends of the discussion and to see how my supervisor negotiated representing all the views that we’d heard on some of the issues. It’s very interesting getting to see behind the scenes of a book award, there’s even more to the organisation than I’d imagined and there are issues to be dealt with (like schools’ attitudes to some new technologies) that were quite unexpected.
I’d been looking forward to today for a while, I finally got to go out on the mobile library and visit a school. I’ve loved everything I’ve done so far but I was very aware that I hadn’t experienced this side of the Schools Library Service yet. Since I was a little girl I’ve always thought mobile libraries are magical so it was great to be able to go on one.
It turned out not to be the busiest school visit, there had been a breakdown in communications which meant the individual class teachers didn’t know we were going until today so four out of the seven classes chose to keep their books until the next visit rather than struggle to find them all at such short notice. Of the three classes that did visit one sent a single member of staff to choose all of their books and the other two sent a member of staff with four children. I got to help the children to choose their books (each one had a set number to pick) and then to issue them all.
It was a really enjoyable way to spend the morning, seeing how enthusiastic and excited the children all were about books and reading was wonderful. I quickly realised however that whilst my YA book knowledge is now pretty good I have huge gaps in my knowledge of fiction for younger children, I’m going to have to make a concerted effort over the next year to read more widely across children’s fiction. Top of my list will be Jacqueline Wilson, Jeff Kinney, Jeremy Strong, Andy Stanton and David Walliams – both groups of children asked for books by all of these authors.
This afternoon I learnt how to do the admin that is generated by a school visit and how to sort the bus ready to go out again. Then I tidied the picture books for older children back into alphabetical order before helping out with shelving the key stage 1 and 2 fiction – I think this is going to be a job that carries on through part of next week as there is a lot to do!
I’ve had such a great day today. I started the day by meeting with the Service Development Coordinator for Young People and finding out more about what she did. Her role’s really interesting, since she was appointed she’s been able to develop the role herself and she’s a very dynamic and enthusiastic lady so she’s involved with some really exciting projects aimed at engaging young people.
Following this I was let loose on the Key Stage 3 / teen room. There was plenty of fiction that needed shelving but the shelves were close to bursting so I started off by weeding the collection. I was pretty intimidated by of weeding, particularly the idea that I might put something to be removed that should really stay. The rules were quickly laid down though, the collection held a lot of multiple copies both of books that had been on the Carnegie Medal shortlist and books that had been on the local teen book award shortlist and so depending on their age these were reduced to 2, 4 or 6 copies. With these guidelines I was soon well away, I think it was easier because they weren’t my books though there were a couple of titles that were written by authors I love – it was a little harder to add these to the pile. Once I’d finished the weeding I was shown how to withdraw the books from stock, another thing to put in the Things I’ve Learnt column.
The other thing I got to do today was to put up a project box. The Schools Library Service makes up hundreds of these boxes for loan, they keep a stock of the popular ones and then make up any newly requested ones. The one I made up was for an activity day about languages, they’d requested a box of books in a range of languages. It was really good to have a go at making up a box, the stock of books to choose from was reasonably small so I didn’t have too much choice but it was still good to have to think about the age range of the children attending the activity day and finding books that could interest all of them.
I came home this evening having really enjoyed my day. It was great to be given tasks to do and complete fairly independently and to feel like I’m actually contributing.
Today was spent at the office, it was during afternoon tea that we realised it was actually the first afternoon I’d spent in the building – all the others have been spent in meetings at schools or on courses. I spent the morning unpacking more project boxes, discharging the books and shelving them. It was really nice to be given a proper task to do and to be able to be left to get on with it. The majority of the books were, like last week, picture books so I had great fun discovering some lovely looking books. My favourite moment though was when I pulled these two books out of a box together:
The afternoon was spent with my supervisor at the placement, rather than overwhelm me last week with details and information about the services they provide she kept some back for today. I’m building up a better idea of the wide range of things that a schools library service does. I also took the opportunity to ask about academies – I’ve heard them mentioned quite a lot but hadn’t got a clue what an academy was or how it differed from a regular school so it was good to get this clear in my head.
After a great first week I was really looking forward to getting back to my placement today. It was another atypical day, I got to attend a course run by the School Library Association (SLA) called The Effective School Library. It covered two key areas – Information literacy progression and assessment, and Key management skills.
The morning’s information literacy focus was really interesting as we did our core information literacy module in the most recent semester of teaching. I could really relate what I had learnt in my lectures to what was being talked about today, it was good to see how it could be applied in the real world. The module had to cover information literacy as a broad topic, it was something I found really interesting and I now plan to read more about information literacy work being done in schools.
I wasn’t sure before the course how useful the afternoon on management skills would be, of course it was really useful. I couldn’t always evaluate my own skills easily at the various points we were looking at skillsets, though I could reflect on how I’d done things in my previous career. I now have a list of skills that I can see I need by the time I’m applying for my first library job, whilst I have some of them already there are definitely areas I can improve.
I’m compiling a list of things to read and follow up on after I’ve finished my placement. Over the course of today I think this list doubled – at the rate I’m going I’ll have things to keep me occupied right through until the start of term in late September. One thing I’ll be doing sooner rather than later though is joining the SLA, I think it’ll be really useful for this next year.
The final day of my first week on my placement has been spent on another day out. The venue today was Peters Books in Birmingham, they specialise in supplying children’s books and furniture to schools and libraries. They were hosting a members day for the School Library Association (SLA), the focus was on eBooks.
The morning was spent learning about eBooks, devices you can read eBooks on, and interactive book related apps for tablets. I particularly enjoyed watching the demonstrations of some of the apps, even if if did only strengthen my longing for an iPad! We were also given an introduction to the new eBooks platform that Peters are offering, it sounded very interesting so I now need to look into the other eBook platforms on offer to libraries so I can compare them.
After lunch the AGM of the Midlands branch of the SLA was held, it was interesting to be able to contrast this with the AGM I attended last weekend of the national side of the SLA. Following this there was an opportunity to browse Peters’ showroom, I was very good though and didn’t take advantage of the discount that was on offer.
It’s been a really good first week, eBooks and eResources have definitely dominated the week. I already have a list of things I need to read up on and learn about, I think I’ll be busy far past the end of the four weeks.
Today started with me going through what had happened at yesterday’s meeting with my supervisor as she’d been unable to attend. It was useful going back through the notes I’d taken as I could ask the questions I had about schemes such as Accelerated Reading and Rapid Reading which were mentioned yesterday. It was also good to highlight a couple of points that I’d been quite surprised by, and for my supervisor to put them into the context of the school libraries in the county.
I spent most of the morning working on the newsletter that is sent out by the Schools’ Library Service. This was a lovely way to spend a morning, I got to read the press releases and information about some wonderful events and competitions. It’s due to go live sometime next week so I shall make sure I link to it then. The morning was also spent eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winners of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards, I was thrilled that my personal favourite from the shortlist, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness was the winner of both awards.
This afternoon we went to the termly meeting of all of the school librarians working in the north of the county, their equivalent to yesterday’s meeting. It was again very interesting and useful, the education set up in the north of the county includes a number of schools that operate in the three-tier system (first school for Reception – Year 4, middle school for years 5 – 8 and high school for years 9 – 13) so there were some different issues being discussed. I also found it interesting seeing how the two different groups of librarians approached similar issues, there is a real variety of opinions and attitudes around.
Today’s placement was a more conventional introduction day, it started with a tour of the building that the Schools’ Library Service (SLS) share with the Stock Management team. I was very excited to see the mobile library van parked outside when I arrived, since I was tiny I’ve always been entranced by the idea of a mobile library so I’m looking forward to the two days I’ll be spending on it later in the month.
Following the tour and the introductions to all the members of staff for both teams it was time to go through the timetable that’s been drawn up for my four weeks and to learn about the structure of the service and how it fits into the bigger picture. There’s some really good stuff on the timetable, a couple of training days that sound really interesting, the trips on the mobile van and all sorts of project based work at the base. They’ve also highlighted a couple of pieces of work that they want me to help out with – reshelving a lot of the key stage 3 books which are kept in a completely separate room so they can’t get mixed in with the books that go out to the primary schools and helping to collate the newsletter.
The rest of the morning was spent helping to unpack project boxes that have been returned, discharging the books and shelving them. It was really nice to be able to get stuck into doing something I knew and understood, and to feel like I was being useful. It was made more enjoyable because the books were all picture books, I love picture books but don’t spend much time looking at them – I had to resist the temptation to read so many of them!
The afternoon was spent at a termly meeting between all of the school librarians who are based in the south of the county. It was really interesting to see the kinds of things they were discussing and considering, it was good to be able to put some of the things I’ve learnt about this year into context and to start to think about the way things work in the real world.