CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Gillian Gillespie, Greenwood Academy, North Ayrshire

Category: Blog, Meet our Members

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

My name is Gillian Gillespie and I am a Learning Community Librarian at Greenwood Academy in Dreghorn, Irvine. My role involves being the school librarian for the secondary school and also working with the cluster primary schools to help and advise them with their libraries. Greenwood Academy is the largest School in North Ayrshire with a school roll of approx. 1300 and 5 cluster primaries so I am kept busy.

I have been lucky enough to have worked in a variety of library roles in the early years of my career, starting as a library assistant in the RGU library while being a student there and after graduation I moved to work in an oil company library for a year. I then made the move to public libraries by taking up the role of Assistant Customer Service Librarian in Dunfermline Carnegie Library, later moving to be an area librarian managing some of the branch libraries in West Fife. I then joined West Lothian Libraries as a library manager in 2 of their public libraries. I loved my time working in the public libraries and the interaction with the wide variety of customers. After my son was born I wanted to move home to North Ayrshire and was lucky enough to get a job with the fantastic library team there. My role was to develop links with the primary schools and establish visit programmes to the local branches, and to set up homework clubs. Although I had spent several years working with the public, I hadn’t really worked much with children so this was a new experience for me. It turns out it was one of the best things I have ever done. During restructuring I made the move to Garnock Academy  in Kilbirnie and have recently moved to Greenwood Academy in Dreghorn.

No two days in a school library are the same, which is one of the best things about the job. At the moment I’m seeing all S1 pupils to welcome them to Greenwood and introduce them to the library. I’m lucky in that I have quite a large input into the guidance programme in this school. All S1 work through the Learning 2 Learn programme that includes a lot of information skills. I have each class for at least 15 information skills lessons in the library across the year. This is in addition to weekly book borrowing with S1, 2 & 3 English class and all of the other year groups and classes I work with. There are a number of clubs that run in the library including homework clubs, a parent and child book club and a maker club. My aim is to have a vibrant, thriving library that is at the heart of the school and hopefully I’m heading towards that.

Last year I was successful in securing SLIF funding for a Makerspace project in the library and over the last few months have been busy teaching myself how to use the various equipment and gadgets that I have been able to buy. The pupils are loving being let loose with robots and 3D printing in the library and it has really added a creative element to the library.

One of the highlights of my career has been making it to the semi-final of the SLA School Librarian of the Year Award. That was a great honour to be nominated by my school and library colleagues.

Being a member of CILIP has allowed me to join the School Library Group Scotland committee and take up the role as Secretary and looking after the SLG Scotland blog. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet and share expertise with school librarians from across Scotland and give something back by helping others. 

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