CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Stephen Leitch, Buckie Community High School and Keith Grammar School

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 Stephen Leitch and I am the school librarian for Buckie Community High School (BCHS) and Keith Grammar School (KGS). My week is split two days at Keith and three days at Buckie.

I love being a librarian – especially a school librarian – and the opportunities this brings to work with and support kids across the schools, and the huge variety of fun and rewarding activity this results in. With the demands of two different schools to meet, my days are very varied. Being the only librarian in each school and with no other library staff, anything to do with the running of the libraries is my responsibility.  I could be stock ordering, developing a new book talk and pursuing teachers for curriculum information one day, to running information handling skills courses, running book groups and planning future events and quizzes while recommending reads at lunchtime on another. I have responsibility for the school newsletter ‘The Buckie Blether’, which is now a Wider Achievement option for the senior pupils to be part of at BCHS. At both schools I hold regular drop-in coffee mornings for teachers to encourage them to view the libraries as a resource centre where they’re welcome irrespective of their academic subject or stage of pupils. While I am the lone librarian in my schools I am rarely alone in either library: with lots of classes coming to use the library and pupils coming before school and at lunchtime, there’s a real buzz at both. Every day when I come to open the library it’s great that I have queue of kids keen to come in!

I’ve been at BCHS for 5 ½ years now, and KGS for just over a year. I started my library career back in the school sector in 2002 at Nairn Academy, fresh faced from recently gaining my PGDip ILS from Robert Gordon University. I crossed from here to the public library side, spending 10 years as a Community Librarian covering the Lossiemouth area (libraries in three separate villages). I really enjoyed the role of Community Librarian, especially being able to engage and connect with the local community and primary schools taking the message of libraries to them and organising events to bring people back into the libraries. Leading Bookbug Rhymetime sessions and Storytimes were also a highlight for me (I hope for the audiences too!) which really developed my story telling confidence and skills, something I use still at my schools. No matter the age of the pupils they still enjoy being read to. Being a Community Librarian also meant I was able to share my love of local heritage and maps with customers, something I have been able to carry on into the school setting.

Staff management was part of the Community librarian post. I loved being part of a close-knit team, working together on projects and discussing ideas. As there are now only 5 school librarians in Moray (across 8 high schools) we try to think of each other as “the team” even though we all have different line managers, and our schools are run in very different ways.  We meet regularly to share information and resources, and to work together on joint initiatives, to make our schools libraries the best they can be.

My sixteen years as a librarian have been full of changes, challenges and opportunities. In the last three years in particular I’ve been rediscovering the value of my CILIPs membership and progressing with Chartership. Being a chartership candidate has really encouraged me to develop myself as a librarian and helped me deal with the challenges and changes in a positive way e.g. funding my attendance at my first school librarian conference (which I now regularly attend), actively developing my networking skills and discovering the wonderful world of webinars for training and information. I now actively look for training and CPD opportunities, and have chartership (and my mentor) to thank for reinvigorating my career.