rd activities by lindash


									Investigating links between school and public libraries
Sarah McNicol Centre for Information Research (CIRT) Faculty of Computing, Information and English Dawson Building University of Central England Perry Barr B42 2SU Telephone: 0121 331 6891 Fax: 0121 331 5621 Email: Sarah.McNicol@uce.ac.uk 1. Introduction A wide range of organisations share responsibility for the provision of information and library services to young people: public librarians, school libraries and, usually indirectly, staff in Schools Library Services (SLSs). As a number of recent reports, including Empowering the Learning Community (LIC, 2000) and Start with the Child (CILIP, 2002), have pointed out, it is vital that schools and public libraries work together. Empowering the Learning Community recommended: 1. Public and educational libraries in communities or defined geographical area should establish co-operative arrangements to improve services to their users. 2. Cross-sectoral funding arrangements should be established. 3. Public and educational libraries in any community or region should draw up „access maps‟ to enable users and learners to reach resources or assistance in other libraries on a managed basis. Consideration should be given to making provision of school library and information services a statutory responsibility. 4. Training of librarians, resource managers and teachers should be coordinated and should include ways of developing mutual support. Start with the Child made a number of recommendations in relation to „cross-sectoral working to benefit the child‟ and „partnership to deliver outcomes‟ including: Cross-sectoral working to facilitate learning with a focus on pre-16 learners between school and public libraries and Further and Higher Education libraries, particularly in relation to technology and information literacy, should become a priority for the working party and should influence the next stage of the People‟s Network. Pilot projects should be set up to explore how partnerships can be fostered. Library service managers should learn the lessons of schemes such as Bookstart and Youth Boox to ensure that they exploit the potential to improve their services by working in partnership with other local authority departments and external agencies. This is particularly crucial in areas where the service is failing to reach its audience. To investigate the current extent of co-operation between schools and public libraries, a survey of SLS managers and public library managers with responsibility for children and young people was carried out in August 2003. This asked for details of reader development, information skills and activities involving both public library and school staff which had taken place during the previous year and asked 1

respondents to reflect on the current opportunities and problems of partnership working. 2. Methodology Questionnaires were posted to all librarians listed in the children‟s library services section of the CILIP Directory, a total of 306 individuals. In total, 89 completed questionnaires were returned (29%). Sixty-one replies (69%) came from staff employed in public library services and 28 (31%) from SLSs, although in some cases, services for schools were incorporated within the public library service. Scotland, London and the South East were the regions most heavily represented, while there were few replies from Ireland, the East of England, Wales, the East Midlands or the North West as shown in Table 1. Region London Scotland South East Yorkshire & Humberside West Midlands North East South West North West East Midlands Wales East of England Channel Islands Republic of Ireland Northern Ireland Number of responses (%) 19 (21.3%) 16 (18.0%) 10 (11.2%) 9 (10.1%) 7 (7.9%) 6 (6.7%) 6 (6.7%) 4 (4.5%) 4 (4.5%) 4 (4.5%) 2 (2.2%) 1 (1.1%) 1 (1.1%) 0

Table 1: Number and percentage of respondents by region The questionnaire asked librarians to provide details about:  reader development activities involving school and public libraries during the previous twelve months (including details of other partners who were involved in these activities) joint information skills activities during the previous twelve months any other joint activities which had taken place in the previous year.

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In addition, they were asked to comment on what they perceived to be the main benefits of joint activities involving both school and public libraries as well as any difficulties involved in the organisation of joint activities, together with details of how these might be overcome. 3. Reader development activities Seventy-seven respondents (86.5%) reported reader development activities involving school and public libraries which had taken place in their authority during the previous twelve months. In addition to libraries from different sectors, these involved a wide range of other partners including:


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other local authority departments eg Community Education, Education & Learning, local museums national bodies eg Scottish Book Trust, The Reading Agency, Bookstart, Sure Start commercial partners eg publishers, bookshops, book suppliers.

The most common types of activity reported by librarians were:       Reading groups Carnegie/Greenaway and other award shadowing schemes Book/literature festivals and other author visits Storytelling and poetry activities Summer Reading Challenge and other competitions School visits.

Reading groups Overall, reading groups were the most popular activity mentioned, featuring in 31 of the 89 responses (34.8%). Many groups were run jointly, by public library and school staff. While some met in the school, others were held in the public library; one group met alternately at the school and public library. Several librarians gave details of the types of activities which commonly took place at reading groups. For instance, one reviewed books for a local newspaper and another wrote reviews which were posted on the council website. Several groups had arranged to receive pre-publication proof copies of books from suppliers or publishers to review. Some groups had enjoyed author visits. Seven librarians said that they operated Chatterbooks reading groups which are sponsored by Orange. These are aimed at four to twelve year olds, but in one authority teenagers were also involved as they helped to run these. Most of these groups were held in public libraries, although there were also examples of Chatterbooks groups being run by public library staff, but taking place in schools. Teenagers were commonly targeted for reading group activities, being mentioned explicitly by five librarians. Some teenage reading groups were held in secondary schools and others in public libraries. An innovative idea in one authority was to involve a local adult reading group in running the group for teenagers. The funding for reading groups came from a variety of sources, for example, in one authority, the Education Department was working in partnership with New Opportunities Fund (NOF) Out of School Hours Learning to support a lunchtime reading club in primary schools. Family reading groups had been set up in three schools in one authority, supported by funding from the Children‟s Fund. Three authorities were involved in a The Reading Agency/Education Extra pilot to build links between reading clubs in schools and the public library. Two of these had established summer reading clubs in branch libraries: Currently participating in a national pilot for The Reading Agency. Working through the School Library Service, the project aims to build links between reading clubs in schools and the public library in a particular area. The area Library Advisor (SLS) has worked with a secondary school librarian and two


primary schools to encourage pupils to participate in a summer reading club in a branch library. The Library Advisor and the Special Services Librarian (public) are working together to deliver the summer reading club. Another project-based reading group was Premier League Reading Stars, supported by Reading is Fundamental (RiF). Another authority had also secured RiF funding to set up book clubs for all pupils in their first year of secondary school. Carnegie/Greenaway shadowing schemes Fifteen librarians mentioned shadowing the Carnegie and/or Greenaway awards as an activity which involved both schools and public libraries. This began in the early 1990s and in 2003, around 30,000 young people took part. Groups “shadow” the judging process, reading and working on the shortlisted books and deciding which are their favourites. Some set up their own webpage and organise local forums. Public libraries and SLSs often loan copies of the shortlisted titles to local schools taking part. Sometimes librarians from public libraries or SLSs attended shadowing meetings at local schools. In some areas, the public library and SLS work with local schools to organise a special day when the winner, as voted for by pupils, is announced. Publishers or book suppliers were frequently involved, for example, by providing discounted books and signed copies of shortlisted titles. One librarian summarised the process in their authority: [We have been involved in] Greenaway/Carnegie Shadowing for last four years. It involves nine out of eleven secondary schools. School librarians organise pupils and encourage them to read shortlisted books. The public library books the local theatre and organises shadowing day which the pupils attend to debate the books and choose a local winner. Other book awards Schemes similar to the Carnegie/Greenaway Shadowing were organised for other local and national book awards, such as the Blue Peter Awards and the Children‟s Book Award. As well as discussing shortlisted titles and voting for their winner, one public library service organised a talk by an illustrator in conjunction with a publishing company. Calderdale, Portsmouth and Stockton are among the authorities which organise their own local book awards. These involve libraries working with a range of partners including commercial sponsors, the LEA Education Effectiveness Team, CILIP, publishers, the local Education Action Zone and a Single Regeneration Budget project. Festivals Book festivals were organised on various scales; in total, they were mentioned by ten respondents. The Northern Children‟s Book Festival was one which was frequently referred to. This involves twelve local authorities and is now in its twentieth year; authors, poets and performers visit schools and libraries throughout the North East. Smaller scale events included Calderdale Children‟s Book Festival, New Horizons festival in Hertfordshire, the Shout festival of the spoken word in Croydon which involved performance poets, rap artists and storytellers and the Bostin‟ Book Bonanza in Walsall. Like book awards, these activities frequently involved a range of partners including local bookshops, publishers, the Early Years Partnership, library suppliers and Education Business Partnership.


Author visits In addition to large-scale festivals, author visits frequently took place on a smaller, more ad hoc basis. This type of activity was mentioned by fourteen librarians. In some instances, a visit was hosted by the public library and attended by pupils from one or more local schools. In other areas, visits were jointly organised to make them more economical for both parties, with authors visiting both schools and public libraries. In many cases, these events were supported by the authors‟ publishers. One respondent mentioned a gala day involving three authors, which could be seen as midway between a single author visit and a small festival. Another approach was to arrange a series of single authors visits throughout the year. Book weeks Author visits sometimes formed part of school book weeks. Staff from the public library or SLS might also be involved in book weeks by visiting schools to give talks about libraries and reading or to generally support the activities. Poetry Some reader development activities focused on poetry, for example, poetry festivals and poets in schools or libraries. One authority operated a scheme called Poetry Power, which placed identical collections of poetry in secondary school libraries and the community libraries associated with the school. School librarians were given membership forms for the library service and asked to publicise the community library as another source of books. There were a number of associated activities, such as giving star ratings for books and „My favourite poem‟. Storytelling Storytelling activities were also popular at both primary and secondary levels and seemed to be particularly common in Scotland and Ireland where they were supported by bodies such as the Scottish Storytelling Forum Initiative, the Heritage Council of Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Irish Writers‟ Centre. In one authority, storytellers ran sessions in each branch library as part of a Literature Festival and schools subscribing to the SLS were invited to send two classes to these events. Another librarian reported how a „story zone‟ had been set up in a secondary school by the children‟s librarian and school librarian working together. This was supported by Education Action Zone (EAZ) funding and the children‟s librarian visited once a week for a storytelling session. Summer Reading Challenge This programme, designed for four to eleven year olds, has been running in the summer holidays since 1999 and is now taken up by around 85% of local authorities in all. It is supported nationally by The Reading Agency and Books for Students. Other partners involved at a local level included social services and bookshops. In many authorities, public and SLS librarians visited schools in the summer term to promote the scheme to pupils. In some areas, public librarians also visited schools during the early autumn to present children with their certificates. One librarian reported a scheme whereby school libraries were responsible for lending children their first book of the challenge, which they had to return to the public library in order to officially register for the scheme. 5

Competitions Competitions were another way in which libraries tried to encourage children to develop their reading habits. One authority had organised a „Bookbusters Quiz‟ for Year 5 and 6 pupils and another ran a Young Writer competition, which attracted 9,000 entries from primary school pupils in 2003 and involved library suppliers, local businesses, shops and newspapers. Taking books/visiting schools Eight public or SLS librarians said they took part in general visits to schools, usually to talk to pupils about reading and to promote the library service, or to take a supply of books. One operated a scheme called “Book Guest” which involved taking books into the top class in each primary school. Another ran a scheme in secondary schools, providing dumpbins of stock. One librarian mentioned that, in rural areas, there were arrangements for the mobile library service to call at schools to allow children to choose books. School visits to libraries Twelve librarians mentioned school visits to public libraries, specifically for reader development activities such as storytelling or to promote reading activities offered by the library such as reading groups and the Summer Reading Challenge. Sometimes, these were linked to special events such as World Book Day or a Harry Potter party. One authority was piloting a scheme called Discover Reading with top primary classes to encourage children to try different books and talk about books during a visit to the community library. Stock selection In four authorities, young people were involved in stock selection for their local library. In one example: Young people have been involved in choosing stock for a recently refurbished major service point. This has led to young people now organising their own “Mind, Body, Spirit” session for our new Sunday opening and to involve children and young people in the refurbishment of all our children‟s libraries over the next three years. These are first steps towards more directly focused reader development activities and Young People‟s Panels. Local bookshops and library suppliers were frequently partners in these types of activities. Other reader development activities In addition, public libraries and SLS around the country were working with local schools on a range of activities and projects which supported reader development. Some examples are:    an online database to support reading Reading is Fundamental projects in which school classes come to the public library to select books which will be given to them Kick with Reading project involving local football club and storytelling activities



a “Talking Texts” project funded by Core Skills and in partnership with the LEA Advisory Service. This involved library staff visiting nine secondary schools, doing book talks, receiving emails from pupils and, later, returning to discuss attitudes to reading. Young Cultural Creators, a London-wide initiative involving cultural institutions eg Tate Britain, National Archives, library services and schools. In an example of just one activity under this scheme, pupils met the author Chris Priestley and did work based on his novel involving materials in National Archive. Apart from the Road exhibition installation involving dance, poetry and film. an SLS-hosted online review site available in public libraries and schools. market research conducted via secondary school librarians on teenage magazines production of an annotated glossy booklist of recommended reads for teenagers with books reviewed by school and public library staff a NOF-funded Reader in Residence and Literature Development Officer who have organised numerous activities involving schools and public libraries working with family learning groups both in schools and at the public library a Words on Wheels bus funded by Scottish Friendly and the Scottish Book Trust writers‟ workshops a reader development working group including two school librarians and representatives from the public library service. This has gathered examples of reader development activities in both school libraries and public libraries and circulated descriptions/tips to all staff. Bookstart packs issued to all babies a Readers‟ Project working with special schools and involving publishers and social services to enable disabled young people to promote reading Derbyshire Libraries Book Pushers, teenage reading advocates supporting school library staff in writing bids for grants for reading development activities.


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Conclusions It can be seen that there are a wide variety of reader development activities which involve, and are strengthened by, co-operation between schools and public libraries. Activities are organised on different scales and involve a range of partners. In addition, the approach taken varies noticeably from authority to authority, for example, in terms of staff and organisation, so there is clearly scope for library staff to share ideas both about the activities themselves and the ways in which they are organised. 4. Information skills

Sixty-two public and SLS librarians responding to the survey (69.7%) reported some form of joint information skills activity which had taken place within the previous twelve months.


Class visits The most common form of information skills provision was, unsurprisingly, delivered through class visits to a local public library. This was mentioned by twenty-eight respondents (31.5%). In some areas, this took place very much on an ad hoc basis, whereas elsewhere it operated in a more structured way: User education visits linking local schools and public libraries happen as part of our core work – about 700 visits a year. Some were one-off sessions providing a general introduction to the library, but in other authorities, special sessions had been designed for various subjects and age groups: Induction sessions for S1 Refresher sessions for S2/3 In-depth work on literature websites (S5/6) Careers information on the web (S5/6). The library offers a range of packages, but these have been developed independently from the schools although with the National Curriculum in mind Common features of information skills sesions included: layout of the library, basic Dewey classification, using the reference section and using the OPAC. Quizzes and games were often included. One authority offered training for RISK-IT, an online information skills accredited course and secondary school librarians are being encouraged to bring classes to the library to complete the course. Visits to schools Alternatively, information skills could be delivered by public library, or SLS, staff visiting local schools. This practice was mentioned by six respondents. It sometimes took place as part of book weeks or similar special events. In one authority, schemes of work incorporating information skills had been devised for a variety of subjects. To a large extent, the presence of a school librarian in the school would determine the level of involvement public library or SLS staff would be likely to have in this activity. Out of school activities There were a few examples of information skills being delivered in sessions which took place outside the normal school day. One authority ran a two-week Library Survival course as part of a summer school and two libraries were involved in the University of the First Age (UFA) summer school. This organisation works in partnership with schools and communities to extend learning beyond the school day. Several respondents pointed out that homework clubs commonly involved some information skills activities, in particular, ICT: Within the Supported Study project, children were introduced to Homework Collections in the library, supplied by ERS and keyworded to reflect the curriculum. Pupils were introduced to the collections through specific subject activities in the first formal session. The website was extensively developed to support these topics and ERS (Education Resource Service) staff guided pupils through the process for searching for information in a structured approach.


Student librarian training Five authorities gave details of special activities for pupil or student librarians which were run by the SLS. In one, pupils took part in a six-week course which introduced them to a range of library departments; incorporated a book selection exercise; and allowed them to explore reader development websites. A similar course in another authority culminated in an award ceremony. Information for schools Four public libraries or SLSs had produced or planned to develop information skills materials for schools. This might take the form of:    a pack of information about the public library sent to each school a KS1 activity booklet for class visits a package of information handling skills teaching which could be put into practice in the public library.

Conclusions Reported examples of joint information skills activity involving schools and public libraries was noticeably less than that reported for reader development and, to a large extent, much of the work is focused on traditional class visits to local libraries. However, more innovative approaches were becoming increasingly common, for example, the introduction of out-of-school sessions and the development of information skills packs. 5. Other joint activities In addition to reader development and information skills activities, librarians identified a number of other activities on which school, SLS and public library staff regularly collaborated, including joint training programmes, meetings, study support and stock selection procedures. Training Thirty-seven respondents (42%) reported attending training sessions which had involved both public/SLS librarians and school staff. In some cases, public (or SLS) librarians have been responsible for delivering training to teachers and school library staff. Topics listed in this category included:      information skills ICT (NOF training) storytelling promoting books for poor readers literature awareness.

In other instances, SLS staff used their expertise to provide training for more generalist public library staff, for example, to help them in the organisation of class visits and book promotion. Sometimes these sessions were also open to school


staff. Conversely, in one case, the library service had managed to secure places for public librarians on relevant school-based training courses. On other occasions, external trainers, such as Opening the Book and the UFA, were recruited to deliver a course which was open to both public/SLS and school staff. Topics for this type of activity included:          reviewing junior and teenage fiction boys and reading display skills reader development reading groups reading choices for teenagers ICT cataloguing study support.

There were also examples of author talks and conferences. In one authority, a Children‟s Literature Conference had been held; this was open to librarians, teachers, youth service workers and other interested professionals. In another, a summer school was attended by public library and school library staff. Meetings Eleven respondents listed meetings as an activity which involved both public library and school staff. This might involve a variety of individuals including: public library staff, children‟s librarians, library assistants and Education Resource Co-ordinators A common practice was for SLSs to organise regular meetings of school librarians, and often public library staff, which were intended to provide a support network and an opportunity to share concerns and good practice. Describing one example of this, a respondent said: The Teacher Librarians‟ Group has been operating since 1991. It started as a forum for drawing together secondary school staff with responsibility for the school library and the public service. Meetings are twice yearly and cover a range of topics (eg info skills programmes, reading schemes, ICT issues). Good practice ideas are shared and national developments highlighted. Sometimes working groups were set up in specific areas such as reader development. Librarians gave examples of both school and public libraries being represented on wider groups, such as learning partnerships, which also included social work, education services, community services, health trust and school nurses. Study support Fourteen respondents (15.7%) mentioned study support schemes which linked public libraries with local schools. There were examples of homework clubs for specific groups such as Key Stage 2 pupils or looked after children. Many study support schemes had secured funding from organisations such as Neighbourhood Renewal. Some were run in public libraries, with school staff involved in their running or promotion and, in other cases, public library staff worked in homework clubs which


were held in schools. Another form of collaboration involved public library staff visiting schools to promote the homework facilities available in public libraries. Stock selection Four librarians referred to joint selection procedures such as joint book selection meetings which were attended by school, as well as public, library staff: School librarians involved in a Book Group session of public librarians in spring when we were particularly looking at poetry for teenagers. Public library staff able to ask advice/ideas from school librarians on stock selection – where and what to buy. Intend to invite school librarians regularly when relevant. In one authority, pupils were also involved in the selection process through an enterprise project: The Special Services Librarian partnered North Yorkshire Business and Education partnership to work with a school on an enterprise project. The pupils evaluated the current branch library stock and chose a collection of books for the library. They learnt about book-related websites and used the Dewey Decimal System to provide a Maths related activity. Joint use libraries Joint use libraries were mentioned as a way in which closer links between schools and public libraries could be developed by six respondents. In one area, this was clearly seen as an activity which would be increasingly important; three joint use libraries had recently been opened and a further four were being planned. Other joint activities In addition to these common areas, respondents referred to a diverse range of activities which involved public libraries and schools or school libraries working in partnership:         Schools Wetlands Project (with Department of Local Government and the Environment and Coastwatch Ireland) Family Sessions with parents and children in primary schools focusing on literacy and numeracy, run by tutors from the local college surveys and focus groups carried out through schools on young people‟s views on public libraries schools have started to visit the library to complete their ECDL four schools are to pilot a joint library ticket for First Years this autumn a joint policy which led to professional staff in most areas meeting to explore the potential of working more closely locally librarian visited schools when they are having a careers day Primary School Library Project, schools are introduced to Supported Study in public libraries and are expected to include the public library in their school library policy Public libraries being given prior warning of booklists being promoted in schools




work experience placements.

Conclusions In addition to reader development and information skills, there are, therefore, many other ways in which schools and public libraries might work together. Some of these focus around the needs of library staff, for example, staff development and ways to share ideas and to provide each other with support. Other activities are more directly user-centred, for instance, the provision of study support facilities. 6. Benefits

Respondents identified a number of benefits of collaborative activities for schools, school libraries, public libraries, SLSs and pupils. A number of benefits might apply to all types of library (school, public and SLS):                promoting library facilities and libraries generally to increase awareness and raise the profile of libraries locally promoting a consistent message about the value of all libraries, books and reading in schools, the community, the local press etc more effective marketing more opportunities to secure funding sharing skills, ideas, information, expertise and good practice professional contact for staff in all types of isolated libraries eg schools, small branches securing greater communication and understanding between schools and libraries, awareness of each other‟s priorities and problems improved networking, leading to more co-operation between schools and libraries in the future working together towards joint aims/objectives/targets ensuring the services complement each other and are not in competition better use of resources, including staff and stock, avoiding duplication of effort sharing work/organisational burden able to target groups/areas of concern more effectively encourages greater use of all types of libraries improved library use and information skills among children.

Particular benefits for public libraries included:    strengthening links with schools and establishing the library service as part of the education agenda promoting an understanding in schools of the role of libraries in the educational process, breaking down barriers between schools and libraries a greater understanding of how schools work and their needs


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exploring areas of common ground between teachers and library staff sharing knowledge with school librarians who have expertise in particular areas access to a key „captive audience‟ to whom to promote library services extending children‟s and young people‟s perceptions of what the library has to offer awareness raising, promotion and advocacy for the library service helping to increase membership and issue figures, especially among young people who might not otherwise be likely to use libraries.

The benefits for SLSs included:    promotion of services the potential to recruit new members from schools. sharing information to provide a service more in tune with schools‟ needs.

The benefits for schools/school libraries included:       more money for authors/events professional staff from public libraries with skills and expertise who are able to develop and enhance the work of the teachers resources for teaching staff peer support for isolated school librarians and helping school librarians keep up-to-date with librarianship helping schools to extend learning and reading outside of the school day determining school policy on the use of libraries and providing a more structured approach and better understanding of what libraries contribute.

Many respondents argued that joint working had a positive impact on young people; specific benefits for pupils included:  learning that libraries are accessible and friendly and gaining a better understanding of what they have to offer. They may become more familiar and more confident in their use of libraries, for example, through greater contact with library staff access to a wider range of material eg through sharing of stock/catalogues, signposting students to libraries with additional resources contributing to improving pupils‟ educational standards, in particular, literacy levels and critical reading skills encouraging reading for enjoyment equality of opportunity for children who do not visit or have limited access to public libraries reinforces links between school and out-of-school life, embedding the idea of lifelong learning.

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The difficulties of joint working and possible solutions

The main difficulties of joint working which were identified were issues around the differing priorities of libraries and schools; different funding models for public libraries and SLSs; poor communication; inadequate staffing; lack of time; and logistical and organisational barriers. Differing priorities of schools and libraries The priorities and agendas of schools and the public library service or SLS were sometimes seen as incongruent. The fact that the two were being asked to respond to different government agendas, meet different targets and operated under different funding arrangements sometimes made joint working difficult. It was argued that the LEA and central government both needed to provide a stronger lead and provide greater support for joint initiatives. Public library and SLS staff felt that it often took “a lot of persuasion” for schools to work with local libraries. As there was little funding available beyond short term pots of money to support this type of work, it was extremely difficult to develop pilot projects into mainstream services. Staffing Inadequate staffing can impact on joint working in a variety of ways. As school librarians are often the only person available to run the school library, they can find it extremely difficult to leave the premises to attend meetings or other activities. This means that there needs to be „a good reason‟ to justify any joint activities. Similarly in public libraries, and even SLSs, staffing was often too tight to allow sufficient time for staff to visit schools as often as they would like to. The situation could be even more difficult in schools where there was no school librarian, as was commonly the case in the primary sector especially. Where the library was run by a teacher who had very little time to commit, contact could be „patchy‟. Nevertheless, even those public librarians who claimed that they had very few active links with school librarians pointed out that there were good links with other staff in schools: At face value there are no examples I can give you of cooperation between school libraries and public libraries, but we have plenty of examples of cooperation between public libraries and schools and at primary school level this could well involve the same teacher or assistant who runs the school library. Inadequate staffing was also a difficulty in relation to class visits to the local library. Parents usually had to be called on to provide supervision for out of school activities. It was generally agreed that extra funding was needed to support additional staff, or at least relief cover, in both schools and public libraries, to ensure that joint activities could take place. In addition to simple numbers of staff, a lack of children‟s specialists and inadequate training for library staff in both school and public libraries to enable them to deal with children and young people was another concern.


Communication Communication was identified as a potential barrier to joint working by ten respondents. They felt that this was particularly important in joint initiatives to avoid clashes of interest. However, most were optimistic that, through regular contact, understanding between schools and public libraries would improve. Time Staff time was a problem for teachers, school librarians and public library staff. Teachers have so much pressure on them that working with the library is another demand on their time. It takes a really enthusiastic teacher to make the time. From the library point of view, there are so many schools in the area, it is difficult to build partnerships with all of them. Lack of time seems to be a big barrier on both sides. There was a feeling that schools were restrained by the demands of the curriculum and this meant they had little time for what was seen as an „added extra‟: Schools have so much to cram into the curriculum that anything else is seen as difficult. An issue for the school can be fitting extra activity into an already full curriculum. Although a lack of time was a particular concern in schools without a dedicated librarian, it could still be an issue even in schools with a full time librarian because: School librarians have many extra duties now they are running busy IT centres too. The fact that schools and public libraries often worked to different timetables and calendars exacerbated problems. Logistics The physical distance between a school and public library proved to be a major barrier to joint working in some areas: Some schools are a long way from their nearest library – librarians always offer to go to the school, but children can miss out on the „library experience‟. In a predominantly rural area extending activities into after school hours is more difficult when children travel large distances to school. A lack of transport prevented regular class visits in many cases. Mobile libraries were suggested as a partial solution. Organisational barriers Although they were not asked to comment on this directly, many respondents explained in detail the often complex relationships between schools, school libraries, public libraries and SLS in their areas. The following examples give an indication of the great variation around the country: The decision to integrate school and public library services was taken about two years ago after the Education Committee and the Cultural and Leisure Services Committee was integrated. Over the past year we have been


working towards more integrated ways of working. Prior to this we had worked on a number of projects such as the development of joint use libraries in rural areas and the introduction of Talis LMS to secondary schools as well as public libraries (progress has been slow because of funding difficulties). We also worked together on the planning for visits of the Rediscovery Book Bus during the four years or so that it operated. We have been limited by a three way management structure for delivery of services to children. Supported study has been the focus to overcome these difficulties. Since April 2003, the management of library services for children is now back with the Library and Information service and will enable close integration with the Education Resource Service which has been the responsibility for services to schools within LIS A number of public librarians mentioned that there was no SLS to serve their authority, which made it difficult to establish good links with schools. Conversely, however, where there was a SLS, some public libraries felt that this meant their involvement was more limited than it might otherwise have been, for example, information skills sessions would delivered by SLS, rather than public library, staff. Yet, in other authorities, it was stressed that members of the public library and SLS teams often worked together. Where the SLS was integrated with the public library service, it could “act as a bridge” between libraries and schools and made it relatively easy to organise joint activities. However, in many cases, the SLSs operated as a separate business unit. This has the potential to create difficulties unless the roles of the SLS and public library service are carefully defined: SLS is a fully devolved service – staff time has to be paid for from schools‟ subscriptions – such joint activities do not necessarily fit into packages purchased. There is always a dilemma when working with schools who are not members of the SLS. A partial solution is to have in place transparent guidelines and procedures which spell out what can and cannot be done. As partnerships between public libraries and school libraries develop the separate and complimentary roles of the public service to young people and the School Library Service can become confused. Library Services for Education is a business unit providing services to schools on a payment basis. This sometimes clashes with public libraries who provide many services free. It was clear that many authorities were making efforts to deal with this difficulty: We aim to overcome this in [this authority] by merging the SLS and the public service to young people, so that contact with the library service for young people will be through one librarian who will deliver both the public service to children and the School Library Service. This is challenging because of the funding arrangements for SLSs, but developing services in this way addresses the issues raised in „Start with the Child‟ and „Empowering the Learning Community‟. This is a relatively logical progression for services to children in [the area], but where School Library Services are run by education departments rather than public libraries then the issues become more complicated.


The fact that school and public librarians usually worked for different departments within the local authority could be a difficulty and meant that “opportunities for joint working do not come automatically”. Commitment and enthusiasm was required at all levels to identify common areas of work and develop activities which would benefit young people. At a more mundane level, differences in library practices, such as rules for overdue fines, the number of loans and Internet access were mentioned as barriers to harmonious joint working. Other difficulties Several respondents stressed the importance of the attitude of headteachers: Does really depend on the Head of the school. If they want to work with libraries, it‟s great, but unfortunately some will only contact us when they know that an inspection is due as they realise that it does look good in their books. Other schools use the libraries all the time and are thankful that it is still a free service. Convincing headteachers of the benefit of such activities – need to have a good case ready showing such activities support raising of educational achievement. A lack of history of joint working proved to be a major barrier in some areas. There was a natural suspicion of new working practices which could only be overcome through “good communication and sensitive handling”. While many respondents felt that the presence of a school librarian made communication easier, one reported that some school librarians viewed the public library service as competition and thwarted any efforts to work together. 8. Conclusions

It is evident from this survey that a great deal of joint work is taking place involving schools, school libraries, public libraries, SLSs and other partners such as publishers, bookshops and youth services. This activity is greater both extent and range than might be realised by researchers, policymakers or even practitioners themselves. There are clearly many opportunities for library staff from different sectors and different areas of the country to learn from each other and work together to find ways to overcome the difficulties of joint working. However, it is likely that experiences are not being shared as widely as they might be. If ideas for joint activities, and also tips about how these can best be organised and carried out in practice are shared widely within the library community and beyond, it is likely that library services will be able to have an even greater positive impact on children and young people.


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