“Make friends with the Librarians!” Top tips for International School Library Month

 

Dame Allan's Librarians, Mrs Huck and Mr Naish

Above: Dame Allan's Librarians, Mrs Huck and Mr Naish

As schools around the world celebrate International School Library Month, Dame Allan’s Librarians Mrs Huck and Mr Naish talk to us about the importance of school libraries and share their top tips for making the most of the library for pupils and staff.

Mrs Huck, Library Manager at Dame Allan's Senior School, shared her insights into the role of the school library. "It is my job to make sure that Dame Allan’s Schools’ libraries run smoothly day-to-day. It means making sure that the libraries provide a welcoming, calm, peaceful, pleasant environment for students to work and read, where everyone feels welcome and valued. 

She added: “The libraries should feel like an oasis in what can be very busy schools. It is up to me to make sure that as far as possible we have something in the libraries to appeal to everyone, whether that is to help a Year 7 with their homework, to support a Year 12 doing their EPQ research, or to keep Nursery children supplied with lots of colourful picture books."

Mr Naish, who oversees the Junior School library, plays a crucial role in fostering a love for reading among younger students. He plans and teaches library lessons for each year group and runs popular lunchtime and break library sessions. He commented:

"Our school is full of busy readers, so I spend a lot of time looking after our stock of books and making sure there are exciting new reads arriving! On top of this, I train our library monitors and organise events and trips.”

 

Top Tips for making the most of the School Library 

 

Mrs Huck advised, "Make friends with the Librarians! We are fonts of knowledge about authors and books. We can find the answer to virtually any question – or we know where to find a book or website which can answer it. Librarians are like Google, only better – we don’t just find an answer, we find the right answer. 

Also, use the library regularly – take out books, magazines, learn where the subjects that really interest you are kept. If we don’t have a book you want or need, ask us for it. Library events are a great opportunity to make new friends with people with similar interests."

Mr Naish added, "I agree, come talk to the Librarians! Myself and Mrs Huck are always here and happy to help with anything, from recommendations to research, and whatever else you may need! Whether you are already a super-confident reader or you're feeling a bit lost, we will always find time for a chat and will always do our best to point you in the right direction."

When asked about their favourite aspects of their job, Mrs. Huck said, "Obviously, I love books, but my favourite part of the job is spending time with pupils, helping them to find just the right book. There is no better feeling than when you have recommended a book to someone, and they come back to you and say they absolutely loved it and is there another one in the series or by the same author, please?"

Mr Naish expressed his fondness for organising trips and running competitions. "I love the buzz it creates around the library, and it is great to see the enthusiasm building with pupils."

In a world where digital books and e-readers have become increasingly popular, the librarians had their own preferences. Mrs Huck admitted, "My husband gave me a Kindle for Christmas when they first came out, and I did try to love it, but I have to say I’m a fan of the feel and smell of real paper books."

Mr Naish agreed: "Personally, always a paper book, preferably with a broken spine as well."

Lastly, when asked about their top book recommendations, Mrs Huck shared a mix of beloved children's and young adult books. "For children's books, I loved the Winnie the Pooh books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Hairy MacLary books. For young adults, I loved the Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – very atmospheric - and I couldn’t put down the Knife of Never Letting Go (sorry!) by Patrick Ness. I read the entire Chaos Walking trilogy and was devastated when I finished it."

Mr Naish encouraged pupils to explore books by Chris Riddell, saying, "At work I always find myself pushing anything with Chris Riddell's name on it, the 'Ottoline' series specifically."