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Meet the Shortlist – Jennifer Macfadyen

The Scotland's Library & Information Professional of the Year Award logo, with a gold background and an open book, reading 'Shortlist - Jennifer Macfadyen'.


Jennifer Macfadyen, Library Resource Centre Manager at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell

Our award judges praised Jennifer for going over, above and beyond in her role to have a hugely positive impact. They highlighted her ability to notice and attend to her library community’s needs, gathering evidence to support the development of ideas, projects and initiatives that benefit them.

Jennifer is a Read to Succeed committee member: a school librarian initiative in North Lanarkshire (NLC) that promotes reading to S1 pupils via free books and author visits. Jennifer has been involved in bid submission, book selection, promotion of the project, supporting pupils selecting books, ordering and processing deliveries, distribution of books to pupils, the organisation of author school visits including competitions, promotion to S1, care of the authors on the day, ICT, feedback and providing those all-important mugs of tea! As Chair of the NLC SLIF bid committee, Jennifer also led a successful submission for “Healthy Scepticism”, a project to promote health literacy amongst young people. This initiative (delayed due to COVID-19 until a timeframe can be guaranteed) will involve training for school librarians and teachers; a conference for S3 pupils relating to health information, misinformation and information literacy; working with classes on their chosen topic to create a researched display; and a subsequent gallery exhibition. During lockdown, Jennifer wanted to create more reading opportunities for her school’s young people, especially those with no books at home. This became the School Librarians’ Guide to Oz as she and colleagues turned the Wizard of Oz into an all-action transition project over the summer holidays one chapter at a time, promoting the website via Twitter and Teams. The activities required few if any resources, and included links to websites, videos and stories whenever possible. The website is still promoted and maintained and has now been viewed worldwide, including in Kansas! Jennifer is also a member of Rights Respecting Schools, as well as Mental Health and Digital Schools committees.

Already a Glow administrator, Jennifer offered to be the coordinator for school Glow queries during lockdown, allowing teachers to focus on classes and providing a helpline for parents. Jennifer wrote and published advice and error guides for parents on her school website and shared this with other school library colleagues. Following lockdown, it was clear that young people struggled with research sources, so Jennifer expanded her Library website pages to include further reading with links to authors and reviews; literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing questions; and connections to Developing the Young Workforce, Rights Respecting Schools and local information whenever possible. This is a work in progress currently focused on English texts. Noticing that S1 pupils were unfamiliar with computer mice, Jennifer collated online games to develop their mouse skills. She also invested in an ebook collection specifically to provide a wider range of texts for Advanced Higher students and reading material for younger readers. Jennifer embedded the UNCRC into her Library website and LMS, with S2 classes reading fiction relating to the UNCRC and creating posters explaining links to the convention articles. By merging National Poetry Day with COP26, Jennifer allowed classes to share climate promises and develop them into poetry. She was granted a Scottish Book Trust Residency to develop podcasting with S3 related to their class texts. Working with partner Andrew Blair, they have researched, interviewed, pitched, made sound effects and now completed recordings ready for editing. Jennifer also encouraged involvement from young people on OPAC (5-word reader reviews), recommending resources, as Library volunteers – including senior pupils who built display shelves and gained Volunteering qualifications – and in the current Reading Schools Leadership Team. In addition, Jennifer participated in the inaugural National Reading Champions.

Jennifer was actively involved with How Good is our School Library? and the National Strategy for School Libraries, both as a member of the health and wellbeing group and through submitting evidence for digital literacy and collaboration. She helped to promote both documents at the Scottish Learning Festival, talking to teachers and education staff at the event about the role of libraries. She created and managed @TIASSL: Today in a Scottish School Library on Twitter, which promoted the work of colleagues across Scotland for several years and only stopped with the COVID-19 outbreak. Jennifer is a current committee member of SLG Scotland, has previously consulted on numerous SLG projects and events, and was a volunteer judge for SLIC’s Climate Tales competition.

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