Friday, 25 September 2015

My New Role (and Why I've Been Absent Recently)

It would probably be a tad egotistical of me to assume that anyone has noticed that things have gone quiet again on The Book Zone recently or that I have been very quiet on Twitter, to the point where all but a couple of my tweets have been auto-tweets by Goodreads. However, there is a very good reason for this, should anyone out there be interested - along with my teaching and my Assistant Headteacher responsibilities, I am also my school's acting librarian.

The school's librarian of 16ish years retired in the summer, and as a result of the significant challenges the school faces in the next few years relating to reduced funding levels (yep, good old DfE policy again!) cuts were/are needed in many areas. The school's Senior Team (of which I am a member) had to make the very difficult decision not to appoint a new full-time librarian, and not wanting all of the hard work of the last eight or so years to go to waste I stepped up and said I would be happy to take over the day-to-day management of the school library, with a slight reduction in my teaching load. By this I mean that I am now responsible for ordering new books, cataloguing them when they come in, making sure the library is kept tidy, etc. It has been a steep learning curve, and over the past month or so I have:

  • started to get to grips with Softlink's Oliver, our library management software (I say 'started', but I'm barely scratching the surface at the moment - the manual is 1000+ pages long!)
  • bought a wireless bar-code scanner so I can take new books home and get them on the system from the comfort of a sofa whilst watching TV of an evening
  • started to get my head around the Dewey Decimal System. It's easy to use on the other side of the desk as a punter, but I'm finding it a challenge (and time consuming) to work out exactly which Dewey number a non-fiction title should be given
  • had 'fun' with Tattle Tape
  • added cover after cover to books that we ordered right at the end of last term, and others that have come in since (I've lost count already). We had also run out of the correct sized covers for manga books, and as we bought a couple of box sets of One Piece and Naruto just before the break I have had a queue of students waiting for them to be put on the shelves. The covers arrived yesterday evening so that was this morning's job!
And I am enjoying every minute of it, even if the blog and my social media 'profile' are taking a massive hit. I'm doing what I enjoy most - getting books into the hands of young readers. I have also just trained up a group of incredibly enthusiastic sixth formers who are now running the library for me at break times, issuing books and supervising the younger students, and the DBS checks have started top come through for the parent volunteers who are going to supervise the library after school, so I may have some free time again relatively soon.

So, in case you happened to be wondering where I've been hiding, now you know. Sorry if you have emailed me and not received a timely reply. Apologies to publishers and authors who may be patiently waiting for me to post reviews of books I have been sent, and thank you for your understanding. It's not an ideal situation for the school, and it may last a while given current government policy related to the funding of schools. I have always been in awe of school librarians, but just based on my efforts of the last few weeks they have now reached godlike status in my eyes.
Illustration by Sarah McIntyre


  1. Although I am glad it is you that is in charge of the school library, I can't help but be very sad the funding isn't there for a school librarian. It makes me wonder where I will be in a few years and what all my efforts with lessons are for.
    Good luck to all of you I am sure it will be a roaring success

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