CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

Job Shadowing: Developing the Young Workforce and the National Strategy for School Libraries

Category: Branches and Groups

Every month we’ll be showcasing an activity or project that furthers one of the strategic aims of Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools (VLTS): A National Strategy for School Libraries 2018 – 2023. This month it’s the turn of Markie DeLeavey, school librarian at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow.



School Librarian job-shadowing

VLTS Strategic Aim:

1: Curriculum, Learner Journey & Developing the Young Workforce

Relevant outcomes from How Good is Our School Library

2.7 Partnerships

3.1 Improving wellbeing, equality and inclusion

3.3 Increasing creativity and employability



I’ve been working in Shawlands Academy as the School Librarian for just over a year. I’d wanted to find a way to increase pupil involvement in the Library and provide opportunities for those wishing to pursue a career in the Library and Information sector. I also wanted to provide them with information about the sector that I wish I had known at that age.

An S6 pupil, Sharia, approached me looking for information about a career in Librarianship and I saw this as a chance to help her understand the role and skills of the profession as well as the various career pathways and education required. We decided to meet during her free periods throughout the week.

How it worked

The aim of this project is to help pupils understand the role, skills, and knowledge required to work in a library environment, including how to access and navigate library resources and how to understand classification systems. They would also get the chance to go on library tours so that they’d have experience of another information establishment.

I set up a meeting with Sharia to find out she wanted out of the job shadowing. I decided to introduce her to some basic library skills: issuing and discharging books, shelving, and catalogue searching. She also helped me assemble the school library’s new Pride section dedicated to LGBTQI+ and equalities themes, the books of which had been chosen by the school’s LGBT+ group during a SLIF-funded project in autumn 2019.

We also navigated Glasgow Libraries online resources, many of which she wasn’t aware of. I showed her the CILIP/CILIPS websites and explained the various career pathways in Librarianship and the various groups she could participate in.

I showed her some HE/FE Library websites to help prepare her for her undergrad. She had no knowledge or experience of using scholarly journals, so we used one of our sessions to explore some of the online open access research papers (through as well as ProQuest using her school Library ticket.

I thought introducing her to some classification systems would be useful. We looked at Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, as well as the Xwi7xwa system used for indigenous knowledge organisation, and chatted about the history and application of each system. We had organised a visit to the Women’s Library to chat to staff about their Akshara Classification System but unfortunately we had to cancel due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sharia also was in charge of monthly displays. We studied the literacy calendar that I had compiled for social media posts, book lists, and displays, and she chose ‘A Blind Date with a Book’ to coincide with Valentine’s Day. She chose the titles, wrapped each book in paper, and created a poster. Pupils were encouraged to read at least one chapter before returning it as a way to introduce them to a book that they otherwise wouldn’t have chosen. The display was a success with over 100 books issued throughout February.

I also showed her job postings for Library based jobs. We were going to set up a meeting with the school’s careers advisor but unfortunately the school had to shut due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, I had found a job advertisement for a Library Assistant in East Renfrewshire libraries and in our last meeting I showed her how to apply through the My Job Scotland website.


Although our time was cut short, Sharia found the experience incredibly useful. She decided to apply for the Library Assistant post and said that she’d use the skills she had gained on the application. What she found particularly useful was knowing how to access online academic resources as well as having an awareness about the different career pathways in the profession.

Sharia was thrilled that her display was a hit with the students and it gave her confidence in knowing how to curate displays and select material for pupils. Some of the pupils who attended Library visits were curious about Sharia’s help and have enquired about volunteering in the Library next year.

Providing job shadowing opportunities in the library is worthwhile for pupils’ skills development, self-esteem, and wider understanding about navigating and accessing information resources. I think that working with the school to develop a programme tailored to learning Library skills would improve information and critical literacy, as well as lead to an improved understanding of the role of libraries in schools, communities, and educational facilities. Taking what I’ve learned with Sharia, a more focused and carefully planned approached will enable me to provide opportunities to more pupils and embed the programme for the 2020-2021 year.



No resources were used to plan this project, but for future purposes I’ll use some of the resources used on the SLA website for pupil volunteers.

Skip to content