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Anna Leslie, School Library Resource Centre Manager, North Lanarkshire Council

Category: Meet our Members

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

My name is Anna Leslie and I work as a School Library Resource Centre Manager with North Lanarkshire Council. I have been working here for ten years.

I began library life as a Saturday Library Assistant in a public library. It was a great job and I was part of a wonderful team. I then became a Temporary Full-Time Library Assistant in the same public library for six months. When this contract came to an end, I began working in a college library. This job gave me so much professionally. It offered me a real taste of what life might be like as a librarian. We were a small team and we were given the freedom to be involved in all aspects of college library life. I decided after a year of working in the college to return to university to study for a PGDip in Library and Information Studies. I was able to work in the evening at the college while studying. After six months I began working as a school librarian and here I am 10 years later now working with my job-sharing partner.

An average day as a school librarian, well, it’s different every day. Every school library is special, distinct and should be tailored to their school community. I work closely with PSHE, Home Economics, Modern Languages, Art and Science but other school librarians will work with different departments. I design information courses and reading for pleasure activities (a favourite activity). Ten years later, I’m still looking to do more. However, the best piece of advice when working as a school librarian is to be patient.

Talking to pupils and staff is paramount in a school library, it dispels the myth that all librarians say ‘shh’ or ‘quiet voices’. This is a great way to find out what is happening in your school. Pupils and staff always have an opinion, particularly useful when running and reflecting on activities. Pupils will tell you what they like and don’t like. Talking also helps you have a busy library. I love the fact that from 8am the library has pupils and staff coming and going. I also love the random chat; in fact, it makes my day. Just bring yourself to the school library, it will be appreciated. Once you have had some successes more potential projects will arise. Trust your judgement on the resources and activities you offer, you are the information professional. Be confident in your decisions and choices.

I have regularly utilised CILIP webinars during lockdown to develop my skills and knowledge. Not all the webinars have been in my field but it’s good to know what’s going on in other library and information sectors. You often come up with ideas for your own library. I have started using various publishing packages for Twitter and the school website as a result of attending a webinar. I am also grateful for the advice CILIP recently provided me when designing a community cookbook with the Principal Teacher of Home Economics on referencing sources.

Working in a school library is very rich and diverse. It’s rewarding but challenging. As you are a department of one, you are on the frontline and it’s wonderful.

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