School Libraries Group (SLG) Regional Event 2017

On Saturday, 18th March, the CILIP special interest school libraries group (SLG), met for a regional training day at Eltham college, Mottingham, London.

The morning began with a SLG news update from the group’s chair, Caroline Roche. Upcoming events will include:

  • Regional Training Day on the 19th of May. The topic will be impact measurement and evaluation for school libraries: demonstrating the impact of libraries and the librarian’s role.
  • SLG members will be attending the 2017 CILIP conference in Manchester.
  • The education union, ATL conference held at the ACC in Liverpool from the 10th-12th of April.
  • The SLG conference 2018 to be held in London. The exact date to be announced.

In other SLG news, the Pupil Library Assistant of the year finalist was announced at a special ceremony in March. More information about this award can be found at

SLG is selling new LGBT book packs with questions to assist with discussion of LGBT fiction.

There have been talks with Nick Poole CEO, Reading Agency, SLA among others to provide survey results on how many school libraries continue to be active in the UK.

And finally, Caroline reminded everyone that it is possible to volunteer their school library to host future SLG events. You simply provide the space and they do the rest. To volunteer, send an email to


The first presentation, Using Technology for Teaching and Learning, was also provided by Caroline Roche in her capacity as librarian of Mervyn Peake library. She began her talk with a thank you to the current US President in helping school librarians prove their worth. The glut of information readily available on the internet means that librarians are needed more than ever. A library is not just a room for books, it is a room full of carefully chosen resources, be they books or information from the internet. Part of a school librarian’s job is vetting those resources for truth and trustworthiness.

To assist with this task, Caroline provided a list of free online tools that have helped her library to showcase their resources.

  • Diigo—A bookmarking tool for organizing useful websites.
  • Evernote—Does the same thing as Diigo, but will store whole articles even when they have been removed from the internet. It can also be used for editing documents as well as sharing them.
  • My Simple Show—Used to create explainer videos.
  • Animato and Quick—This site quickly creates videos from photos you upload. Great for promoting books or events. Pupils can also use this to create book reviews.
  • Kahoot!—A fun quiz making site which allows pupils to compete in real time.

For full presentation and further information about events:!Al5_jsqSMOmZkzkunCldbHqnQ4NG

The third speaker was Maggie Thomas, librarian of Bacon’s College, South London. She graciously shared her own story to provide tips on rebuilding a libraries presence.

  • Given the budget cuts that have been affecting state school libraries across the country, Maggie advises librarians to be aware of the possibility that parts of your budget could be committed to other expenses in your school. This was the case for her library and she needed to sort things out in order to get a clear picture of how much money the library actually had to spend. Also, regular stock taking provided proof that books were going missing, thereby helping Maggie to defend what little budget she had.
  • Change the library layout. This can cut down on behaviour issues and improve the energy of the library.
  • Assess library lessons to provide evidence for change and recognition of achievements.
  • Join education teams in the school to reduce isolation and to raise your profile.
  • And finally, speak up to get your needs met. This may be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but Maggie found that it is well worth the trouble.

The next speaker was Alex Gillespie of Box Clever Education. He described his company’s product, “Murder by the Book”. It is essentially a murder mystery game that can be played in the library. You can purchase the box with everything you need to play or you can purchase a memory stick version to print out your own materials, if you need a cheaper option. In addition to being a lot of fun (everyone at the training day got to give it a go), the mystery game promotes innovative thinking and reasoning skills. Look it up at


After lunch, the fourth speaker was Matt Imrie from Farrington’s School. Matt shared his experience in library Freeconomics—or getting stuff for free for your library. His tips include:

  • Get a free school library pack from BookTrust. They will literally send your library a box of free books for primary or secondary school ages.
  • Use Project Gutenberg to get free ebooks for your library. You can download free ebooks straight to a Kindle, nook, phone, or other mobile device.
  • Instead of buying audiobooks from Audible, get free audiobooks from Librivox. No registration required.
  • You can ask publishers to send you books to review. These books will cost you nothing and those you like can be added to the library.
  • Publishers are also looking for reviews from young people. Pupils from your school can receive free books simply by writing up a short review of them on a library blog such as edublogs.
  • Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even email to enter contests to receive free books and other resources your library can use.
  • Trade resources with Freecycle: LibrayUK.
  • Other places to receive free ideas and assistance are:

The School Librarian Network:

Heart of the School:

Teen Librarian:

The fifth and final speaker for the day was Rowena Seabrook who is the human rights education manager at Amnesty International, UK. Rowena provided tips and some free resources for using fiction to highlight human rights issues.

Schools across the UK are now required to teach British values. Amnesty International has partnered with CILIP to help libraries foster behaviour in students that demonstrates the countries’ value of respecting human rights.

Rowena used poetry in an exercise to demonstrate how a fiction can lead to dialogue and debate. She emphasised how certain literature teaches us how to empathise with others, find our place in the world, and discover our sense of responsibility.

For resources on using fiction to teach human rights, go to:

Write up by Nora Camann 


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