CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Agnieszka Walicka, Live Life Aberdeenshire

Category: Meet our Members

This blog is part of our Meet our Members series, focusing on different members and their careers. 

My name is Agnieszka Walicka and I am a Network Librarian for Live Life Aberdeenshire. I am based in Kemnay Academy but I am also responsible for assisting to meet lifelong learning and cultural needs of communities in my network. Most of my time I work in school and run our school library with a Library Assistant, but I also work as part of a team with Senior Library Assistants in two public libraries in my area.

For over 20 years I worked in education and translation professions and always believed in the power of reading. The current role is my first position after career change and graduating from RGU Information and Library Studies. Working in all ranges of schools, from a special needs school to university, in two countries, with customers of all ages, equipped me with lots of useful and different skills but with the same focus on educating and providing users with the adequate information.

In the school library, every day is different and the only constant things are break and lunchtime. These are the busiest times in our library! We run or host several clubs during the week, have a Lego creative area, chess playing area, board games, quiet reading corner and a computer suite used for doing assignments. Usually, we have pupils using all those areas and resources. In between the breaks, senior students use the library space and resources for their individual study, classes come for book exchanges, to do Accelerated Reader quizzes or to do some research. I help them choose books and chat about their reading or available resources.

I may also attend meetings and discuss the library service contribution to the local community life, public libraries outreach, for example, speaking at Women’s Rural Institute meetings. I may also be involved in delivering Research Skills workshops, work with English teachers on reading programmes including Grampian Children Book Awards or Scottish Teenage Book Prize. In the afternoon, I may host a reading dog class or Support for Learning group reading on the beanbags in our quiet reading corner. This is also the time when I meet with my contact person in school – a Deputy Head, to report and plan activities supporting literacy development, for example, library trips, World Book Day, Harry Potter Party, visits to a University Library for Advance Higher classes, invite guest speakers or authors and prepare for the lunchtime clubs I run: Space Club, Book Club, Comics Club and Lego Club.

The school library is a very busy learning space and this is what I love about this job. It provides me with a variety of opportunities to add to pupils’ learning experiences in a non-traditional way, to support their well-being, to make them comfortable in this creative and inspiring place. I feel great satisfaction seeing them flourish and learning new skills through the library activities.

It may be challenging to keep the library service relevant to the changing ways of learning and teaching and pupils’ information seeking behaviour and reading habits. The dual role of school and network library management is also challenging and it can be difficult to balance time between these two areas of work.

CILIP membership has helped me to secure a sponsored place to attend CILIP Annual Conference which broadened my perception of the sector and allowed to make new professional contacts. I was also CILIP Student Prize Nominee in 2018 and currently I am working towards my Chartership. CILIP provides the invaluable support of my inspirational mentor which helps me develop my passion and professionalism in reading promotion and lifelong learning.

If anyone were interested in becoming a Network Librarian I would advise to be aware of the quickly changing and busy learning environment and the wide variety of users’ needs. It is essential to look constantly for new ways of making the library service indispensable, relevant and user-friendly. Most importantly don’t be afraid of working with “modern teenagers” – they are fantastic, intelligent and open-minded young people!