CILIP School Libraries Group – Café Littéraire – Saturday, 27th June 2015

A few months ago I went to my first CILIP member event. Here are the notes/minutes from the event that I may use for my Certification, they’re a little formal but hopefully you’ll get the gist.

Event details
Informal and intimate networking event to meet children’s authors and the school library community, plus an opportunity to eat delicious cakes and a range of healthy options – I even took a doggy bag home, yum!


CILIP SLG committee members, CILIP SLG members, school library and literacy professionals and a range of children’s authors, namely: Sufiya Ahmed, Paul Crooks, Tamsyn Murray, Anna McQuinn and others.

Personal aims

This was my first CILIP event and I was unsure of the protocol and what to expect from it. Therefore, my main aim was meet and network with the attendees and make new contacts in the school library community.

Discussion themes

The following points made are drawn from discussions had with various attendees.

Objective views on the Accelerated Reader (AR) scheme
Many staff enjoy using AR e.g. students enjoy monitoring their reading progress, they enjoy the competitive nature of it. However, many are quite critical of its uses e.g. it prevents students from reading a full range of books as you can only be quizzed on books that have been given a reading level by AR, many take quizzes on books they have never read or on film adaptations.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Seeking out your own CPD as some employers are reducing their support in this area due to time or budget constraints or other reasons.
CPD is beneficial in broadening your horizons and scope.
Setting goals for your own endeavours and development with a short-term, mid-term and long-term vision in mind.

Ideas for promoting the school’s library services
Understanding your library users and sourcing books for their needs and preferences.
School libraries competing with other activities in and outside of the school.
Starting staff and student book clubs.
Favourite childhood books of school staff, role models.
Using data to promote the library e.g. posters stating ‘x amount of books were borrowed this week’ and identifying gaps e.g. 7 out of 10, Year 7 forms groups have over 80% borrowing rates whereas the remaining 3 form groups have 55% borrowing rate.
Exploring a range of components of books and resources
Social media e.g. Twitter, Instagram and YouTube book trailers and films.
Games (online and board-type) – inspired by books or vice versa.
Promoting genres with a passbook scheme – inviting students to read a range of genres followed by a range of creative activities.
Cross curricular activities which extend to future careers also using both fiction and non-fiction resources.

Reluctant readers
The importance of accessible books that are designed for students that have reading difficulties or with low self-esteem concerning books e.g. illustration in books, page tinting, layout, word content, context.

Student Library Assistants (SLAs)
The reciprocated benefit of SLAs.
Providing them more advanced opportunities e.g. applying for funding from local businesses and grant applications.
Improving their skills and knowledge for future careers.

Diversity in Books
The importance of this is to create and sustain social cohesion with inclusion.
Supporting student readers who find it difficult to place themselves in society.
Targeting some readers who find it difficult to recognise similarities in themes or characters that are perceived as different to themselves.

Budget cuts
Sourcing new ways to be creative as decrease in budgets becomes more evident.
The impact this a reduction has on the resources that are available and are rapidly changing.
Monitoring resources to identify waste and better uses for funding.

Varying school cultures, procedures and visions
Developing positive relationships with staff colleagues in all areas to build momentum and support for school library activities.
Isolation of library staff can be quite common.
Not all library staff agree on the same issues, nor do they have too!
The different needs of individual schools’ and their needs determine the range of the school’s library services.
Unqualified and inexperienced school library staff.

Author perspectives
Their personal inspirations for: writing, characters, plots.
Promotional activities and school visits.
Involvement in book cover designs.

Clearly I gained a great deal from this event, but I what I really found useful was meeting the authors. It was great to have a tangible and human experience with the authors that are behind the print of the books we are promoting in our schools. As library staff we have so much in common with authors and share many of the same aims and visions. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss issues directly with the authors and also to gain the most accurate synopsis and context of their works . An example of this was speaking to Tamsyn Murray about her ‘Completely Cassidy‘ series which deals with transition issues from primary to secondary school. I am hoping to acquire some for my new library as we know how difficult that transition can be.

Overall, I really enjoyed the event, it was incredibly useful and beneficial to me and in a short period of time it really raised some very important issues from the school library community. Annoyingly, I forgot to take photos, but check out CILIP SLG’s blog for their post on it.


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