Berkhamsted Group | 03.03.2022

Opening up with the Library

Opening up with the Library

With World Book Day being celebrated today – March 3rd, we wanted to sit down ahead of time with the Library department at Berkhamsted Schools and really get to grips with the department, the role of the library and of course – World Book Day.

A huge thank you to the Library team for being so accommodating, we welcome their insightful answers from various members of the team. We’ve used initials to help illustrate who said what.

Firstly Andrea, could we get a brief rundown of the fantastic members of your team and their roles please?

AR: In the team we have: Sarah Holmes, Assistant Librarian and longest serving member of the library team; Anna Bosch, Senior Library Assistant, who joined us from the university library sector, and Susan Wyart and Beth Awdry (who is also a Berkhamsted parent), our fantastic library assistants.

New to the team is myself, Andrea Roberts; Library Services Manager. I joined last month from University College School in Hampstead, where I have worked for the last 12 years. We’re incredibly fortunate to have four qualified librarians on the team, a qualified teacher and a chartered librarian.

Anna Bosch with students in the library

Thank you Andrea and team, with Word Book Day upon us we thought it would be a fantastic chance to celebrate the library and what it offers, what does World Book Day mean to you all?

AR:  Whilst we’re keen that books and reading should be promoted all year round, World Book Day is a great opportunity to bring reading to the fore and celebrate books as a whole school. We mark the day through displays, providing WBD reading material on our library site, running celebratory reading classes, delivering the national WBD vouchers and, this year, running a fun whole school competition, The Masked Reader*.

*Staff have been asked to download Snapchat and disguise themselves using filters and potentially voice changers to set students the challenge of uncovering who they are as they read a book extract. A fantastic way of engaging a young audience.

How do students use the library on an everyday basis?

AR: The library is available to staff and students from 8am to 6pm every day. Students typically visit before and after school, during breaks and free periods, to borrow books, seek help in finding resources or to use the study spaces for homework and revision.

SW: Years 7 and 8 have weekly English classes in the library, and other classes visit for specific projects and information skills teaching.

Students hard at work during English class

One thing we’ve always wanted to know is how a library catalogue is managed and how does it make room for newly published fiction and non-fiction?

AR: We have a stock management policy which involves regular weeding of older items to make way for new and up to date stock. We work with subject departments to ensure the collection is relevant to the curriculum and to current academic interests.

BA: We are very responsive and regularly add books requested by the students to our collections. We always try to stay on top of new releases and popular authors so that students can read titles as soon as they are published.

AB: Much of the library’s resources are not print books, we have an amazing suite of electronic databases. These include academic journal and information databases which provide a wealth of material for pupils (and teachers) from reputable publishers.  This is a huge advantage for our pupils, not only for their studies while at school, but also in preparation for university.

We’ve seen some fascinating initiatives from the library over recent months, could you tell us some of the highlights?

AR: Having only just joined the school, I’m hugely impressed with what the team have put in place with regard to reading for pleasure.

SW: We already had a reading scheme for Year 7 called Bookopoly (based on the boardgame Monopoly) and this academic year we decided to build on it for Year 8s – and so Bookopoly+ was born. It has been well received and has helped us to encourage Year 8s to read.  We also developed a reading scheme for Years 9 & 10 called BerkoReads, which encourages students to blog about their books through a specially devised WordPress site.

AR: Another huge innovation since September has been the introduction of a new Library Management System – Accessit. It’s already been of great benefit to the Library staff and to our Library users.

AB: With the loss of previous system Firefly, and the planned library management system change, we have managed to create a ‘one stop shop’ virtual library environment. From the customer point of view, this encompasses the library catalogue, provides access to our electronic resources, and acts as our virtual learning environment; the latter supporting our reading schemes, ‘how to’ and general news content, our research toolkit for sixth form, and collated themed reading suggestions.

SH: Accessit also works in a way that helps prepare Sixth Formers for the university libraries that they will encounter when leaving school.

Is there anything new the library would like to do in the future?

AR: In addition to some new e-resources for students, we are designing an area on Accessit to provide teachers with access to CPD and educational research material. We’re keen to further develop our research skills and e-resources training programme, and build on our video tutorials collection. There’s plans for a library newsletter, a library app for Bookopoly and Bookopoly+ (this one might be longer term!), and, of course, we’re always on the look-out for fun and engaging ways to promote reading for pleasure.

The Library complete with a Chinese New Year display

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