Thursday, 10 December 2009

Cilip's Editorial Panel

This morning I emailed my application to join the editorial panel of Cilip’s Update and Gazette magazines.

I’ve fancied doing it for quite a while and have been on the lookout for the advert, but somehow I still missed the deadline (darn school residential trips!). Anyhoo, I put together the required Update critique and emailed it off hoping they would forgive my submission for being late. Fortunately they did!

I don’t have a background in editing or publishing, but it intrigues and interests me. I don’t have very much confidence in my application as it was done in haste after realising the deadline had passed, but cross your fingers for me folks… good or bad, I’ll let you know.

Over and Out.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Averil Pearson

On April Fool’s Day 2003 I started my first day of work in a library, and on this day I met a woman whom I shall always remember.

Averil Pearson was the Senior Assistant and had a library career spanning 40 years. She taught me how to use Dewey, how to use the Olib computerised catalogue – absolutely everything. She even taught me how to apply eyeliner! The two of us would work a late night together every Tuesday; students rarely used the library during the evenings so we had a little more time to chat and get to know each other.

Over the 3 years that I worked with Averil, I watched her and learnt so much – much more than merely library stuff. She was the first person of a different generation I genuinely regarded as a friend. She would talk the hind legs off a donkey, bless her, but she inspired me in lots of ways. She was a good person who led a good life and opened my eyes to many different things.

Averil died almost two years ago. Her funeral was very touching and I’m pleased to say there was standing room only during the service. She was deeply dedicated to libraries and I want everyone to know what an amazing person she was.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Letting off steam.

My day at work yesterday involved running outside to the playground, at the request of the dinner-lady, to stop two teenage lads from battering the hell out of each other. I pushed myself to the front of the crowd and stood directly inbetween the lads to separate them. I didn’t get hit but punches were thrown around me, as though they were oblivious to the physical barrier I presented. My presence was not enough to prevent the fight from continuing. I was the only member of staff on the scene and eventually, one of the lads ran off.

Immediately after this, another incident occurred with a year 7 boy. He came into the library to escape the teasings of a ‘friend’ and went straight to the back of the portable whiteboard. He sat on the floor facing the wall, refusing to move or talk to anybody. Unable to coax him out, we had to call for assistance from his mentor.

I spent breaktime and lunchtime maintaining a constant surveillance for social networking sites. These sites are banned in school due to cyber-bullying concerns, yet pupils insist on sneaking onto them. Last academic year Bebo was the trend, this year it’s Facebook. If I see Farmville just once more….!

Then, after work, there was a meeting for support staff relating to Single Status. Here, I realised that all sorts of things are going on behind the scenes which employees are not kept informed of, and an incomplete job description was sent for assessment on my behalf. I am likely to be downgraded because of this and will need to go through an appeal procedure if I want to protect my salary.

Yesterday was not a great day at work, to say the least. I seemed unable to do any valuable tasks and spent the day simply reacting to incidences and situations. I know, I know… these things happen when you work with teenagers, but still… on occasions it gets me down. I’m only human. Yesterday, I felt nothing more than a babysitter-come-security guard. There are times I love working in a school, but there’s also the flip side of the coin too. Grrrr!

You must think I’m such a Moaning Minnie, and I guess I am today. Not a very pleasant blog posting to read, sorry about that folks. Moan over.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Published at last!

It seems difficult to believe now, but there was once a time when we as a nation weren’t obsessed with the X-Factor, Jordan verses Peter or (in my case) Strictly Come Dancing. These are the daily topics of conversation between staff and pupils alike, at the school in which I work; yet before our somewhat brief Summer, such chit-chat hadn’t been murmured yet this year. Back in the days when my life was unconsumed by the latest Strictly news, I actually did the occasional spot of work. Hard to believe, I know, but I kid you not.

As proof of my once industrial nature (which I shall return to once my annual Strictly obsession has died down), I offer you the following link *** CLICK HERE *** I entered into correspondence with Debbie Raven of Cilip’s Library and Information Gazette fame, and the result was this rather splendid article (even if I do say so myself!).

I witter on about my experiences of working within a school library, and my musing on the divide between teaching and support staff. I don’t claim to be an all-knowing genius on the subject, but if you’ve got a spare 5 minutes you may enjoy casting your eyes over it. Or maybe not. Either way, all feedback would be gratefully received.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


Next week is Anti-Bullying Week and I've spent this afternoon putting together a wall display for the library. I do a wall and book display on this subject every year - it is particularly relevant whem you're based in a school environment.

I'm a recent convert to (so cool!) and here's my most recent attempt.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Chartership Worries

I put my half term break to good use by finalising my chartership portfolio. My mentor has given it the thumbs up and it is now at the binders. Hopefully I’ll be able to post it off for submission by the end of the week. Finally - phew!

It’s strange, but I suddenly feel nervous about it. I’ve been plodding on with it for 18 months and now that I’ve finally got my bum into action and pulled all my evidence together, I’m full of apprehension about it. This is the first time I’ve had to be self-reflective and analyse my personal performance since my MSc dissertation years ago. That type of thing doesn’t come naturally to me at all and it has definitely given me food for thought. Fingers crossed it passes, and that I don’t have to wait too long before hearing back. Every so often, horror stories float through the chartership JISCmail list, about candidates who’ve waited 6 months for their result / certificate. Please, somebody tell me, surely it doesn’t always take that long…?!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

October half term

Before I worked in education I used to think school staff didn’t live in the real world; having a week off work every two months meant they were detached from reality. Oh, how different I feel now I’m one of those staff! After four years in a school I have deduced that the real reason behind the frequent holidays is the preservation of staff sanity. Being with teenagers for 37 hours a week can be tiring work – draining, stressful and loud. Every once in a while the equilibrium needs to be re-addressed and the balance re-issued; the slate has to be wiped clean so staff and pupils alike can tackle the days ahead refreshed and with enthusiasm, otherwise nothing of any benefit would ever be achieved.

We are just starting our October half term holiday and I am very glad of it. Last week was one of the more unpleasant weeks in a school with several ‘incidences’ to write up and report, merge squabbles appearing, performance management observations, and not to mention the whole Single Status argument coming to the fore (don’t get me started on that!). Amongst all this, two nice things happened…

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Library Routes Project

The Library Routes Project enables librarians to share details of their career paths, and I’ve enjoyed reading various submissions. It’s interesting and informative (and – at times – comforting!) to read about the experiences of other librarians. With this in mind, I thought I’d contribute and chart my own career to date.

I graduated with a history degree in 2000 at the age of 21. Before this time, I’d never given any thought to what I’d do as a career. All I was interested in was studying history and what I’d do after that time had never crossed my mind. Confronted with the concept of entering the big wide world, I flirted with retail graduate schemes. I’d worked in a supermarket since I was 17 and it was the only thing that came to mind. A few interviews later, no luck. After a few weeks of working in the supermarket full time, I found an office based job within the NHS. Number-crunching all day was mind-numbingly dull and I was far from a model employee; however hard I tried, I simply couldn’t make myself actually care about data inputting. I could do it in my sleep and it was unchallenging. On the plus side, it was local and offered flexi-time!

I decided to take stock of my life and started to seriously think about what I wanted to do. I felt guilty that after the financial cost of university I wasn’t making use of my degree. I put my thinking cap on and gave myself a grilling. What did I enjoy doing? What made me happiest about my current and previous employment? I’d enjoyed serving supermarket customers far more than sitting at a computer all day. It made me feel that I was helping people and making a difference (albeit it only to their shopping experience). The more I thought about it the more apparent it became – I wanted a role that allowed me to help people and make a positive contribution to the lives of others. Okay, now I’d got that sussed I just had to work out where I could actually achieve that. One day, out of the blue, it hit me like a thunderbolt… libraries! I had been a library user since my early teens, not just for my studies but also reading for pleasure. As soon as I’d thought of the idea it felt right, and I couldn’t believe it had never occurred to me before. I felt at ease in libraries and understood how to use them. I valued them and found them interesting. I could help people and use my brain at the same time. I researched the career and discovered you could study library science at university. Doing a Masters degree had always been a secret dream of mine, and here was the perfect subject to study. The next step – find a vacancy!

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Blog Begins...

Having looked at my pal Rose's wonderful blog about her boat (the Wildrose), I have decided to create a blog of my own. Not really sure what I'm doing yet but hopefully I'll get to grips with it soon.

I graduated from library school in 2007 and now work in a secondary school. Based in one of the most financially deprived (and 'educationally underachieving') boroughs in the country, the school faces many uphill challenges. In September 2010 we are due to merge with another local secondary school. When I first accepted the job I didn't realise how diverse the role would be, and I hope this blog will help people realise how crucial school libraries are - for many reasons.

As Rose said - "forget about behind the bikeshed, behind the bookshelves is far better!"

See you all soon...! Cara x