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CILIPS Autumn Gathering Report

Branch: West Branch | Category: Uncategorized

The following is a guest blog written by Pamela McLean from St. Ninian’s High School:


The school libraries strand was especially strong at this year’s CILIPS Autumn Gathering, with sessions reflecting on the recently published national strategy for school libraries in Scotland, the wider perspective on the value of school libraries, and how one authority met the attainment challenge.

Martina McChrystal and Lee-Anne Connor’s session on Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools was a call to arms: “this is only the start”. Their session in particular made me reflect on how I can use the new school library strategy to start a conversation in my school about everything I already do – and want to do. It highlighted practical ways to use the strategy in long-term planning, which was exactly what I’d hoped to take from this session.

It was heartening to hear how key external organisations and stakeholders see (and promote!) school libraries. In particular, Education Scotland and The Scottish Book Trust both spoke of their recognition of the central role that school libraries can play in school improvement planning, particularly in the key areas of wellbeing, inclusion and raising attainment.

Renfrewshire’s presentation on how school librarians have taken up the attainment challenge was illuminating. I really appreciated the detail they went into to explain how school librarians evaluated the effectiveness of their projects through monitoring and tracking – more of this at future conferences please!

Another highlight was the chance to hear Orkney Libraries’ Sally Walker speaking about her journey to professional recognition. Having followed the Twitter response to Sally’s talk at the CILIP conference in Brighton in July, I was expecting great things from her presentation – and she didn’t disappoint. Hearing how another library professional overcame her doubts and achieved so much in a short space of time was nothing short of inspiring.

One unexpected highlight from the day was Twitter itself. I live-tweeted the conference from the CILIPS West branch account and found it to be a brilliant way to record my experiences of the day, and to meet new people. I’ve used the Twitter feed from the conference to reflect on the sessions and to write up this report, and will definitely use this tool at future conferences.

I’m very lucky to have had the support of my school and the sponsored place from CILIPS West to allow me to attend this year’s Autumn Gathering. It allowed me the opportunity to reflect on my role as a school librarian, and to recognise myself in the quotation from Pax by Sara Pennypacker that Sally Walker ended her keynote speech on: “I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That is peace.”

Pamela McLean
School Librarian
St Ninian’s High School, Kirkintilloch

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