CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Sliding Through Lockdown – Buckie Community High School and Keith Grammar School

Category: Blog, Branches and Groups, SLG Scotland

We regularly showcase 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. Here, Stephen Leitch, librarian at Buckie Community High School and Keith Grammar School, writes about his experience of using Google Slide.

‘During the past year of restrictions and “lockdowns”, I found reaching out to my school communities challenging. I decided during the second Scottish lockdown to use Google Slide as a means of sharing information, and providing reading ideas and virtual classes to the school community (and wider school library community).  

Slide is Google’s equivalent of PowerPoint and is free to use. I previously used this to create a virtual library “scene” to host my two school libraries’ websites. I created and edited this online via GLOW: the slides can be set as open access for anyone to see, just anyone with the link, or to a named organisation only. I was able to easily embed them in my school library websites or share online.  

Starting out 

Creating the slides was relatively easy. First I planned out what I wanted the slide to have on it and its functionality (such as links, images, quizzes) then I pieced the slide together. You can search for backgrounds and visuals all within the Slide environment. For information slides like LGBT History Month I tried to keep these fun-looking. To encourage pupils to explore the slides fully I hid links in unlabelled images and encouraged them to click on everything. Visually these are a great way of curating information on a topic rather than just a list of hyperlinks. And the discipline of having only one slide means being focused about what goes on it so people are not over-loaded with visuals and information. Slide themes on Tolkien Reading, LGBT History Month and International Women’s Day proved very popular, and, from a personal point of view, were very enjoyable to create. There are more under ‘Days To Remember’ on the Buckie Community High School website and the Keith Grammar School library website. 

Virtual Book Talks 

I was able to place the book-talk video I recorded, book links and quiz links all on the same page so pupils only had one screen to explore, and posted one link on Teams for pupils to access. Here Be Dragons is a good example of this. Looking to the future, I aim to make a video and slide for all my book-talks for pupils to access as a reminder of the talk but also with links for further information and quizzes for pupils who want to find out more about the books and authors.   

Using Slides to promote book choices worked well. I embedded links in book covers and all pupils have to do is click on the book cover to go to the link for reading ideas and videos. I started calling these choice boards as I wanted pupils to feel they could choose a few or all of the books to explore, a term that better highlighted what the slide was there for. There is a number of reading choice boards on the BCHS library website under Get Booked Up.  The idea for developing choice boards was inspired by the work of Shannon McClintock Miller, librarian at Van Meter School in Iowa, USA. Her work is amazing and her blog is well worth following. 

Sharing Slides 

I shared as many slides as I could via Twitter. This was for parents to access, but also for other librarians. I felt it was important to share the resources as I gained so much inspiration during the first lockdown via Twitter from library colleagues. A real plus with using Slide is that with only one link to share, it didn’t matter whether this was placed on Teams, Twitter or emailed to staff. I also didn’t need to repost it if I had to make changes as changes are instant and access remains unaffected.  


Staff at school liked the visual element and pupils certainly enjoyed anything with a quiz in it. Twitter analytics told me the slides were used and engaged with. I don’t have analytics from Google Slide so I’m unsure how far pupils interacted with them although anecdotally, many pupils remembered seeing them. The slides can be used as posters if they’re downloaded as PDF or image file formats and printed out. I’ve started displaying printouts of the slides around the school with QR codes on them to encourage pupils to visit the specific slides – and provide a positive reason for pupils to be using their phones in school! 


In retrospect some of my slides may have been too “busy” and some visuals too small for accessing on mobile phones and small tablet devices. These can be optimised on Google Slides, and I will also research more effective ways of capturing user engagement. 

I’m going to look into how accessible these Slides are to visually impaired users, and whether speech reading software works with embedded links in graphic heavy slides. An alternative would be to provide a list of web links used in a plain text document as an accessible version of the slide. I’ll be exploring other alternatives with my VI contacts. 

Google Slides are easy to create but they can be time consuming: recording video content, making quizzes, fully researching the links… Since the return of pupils to school I have struggled to create as many Slides as I did during the winter/spring school closure.  However, using Google Slide is a great way of sharing information, book lists or virtual lessons with people visually and quickly, and I look forward to sliding my way through the next academic year!’  

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