Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Last week I started a new day job as a secondary school librarian (in England, that typically means ages 11-16). It is just as cool as it sounds working with students, surrounded by literature, having my own office, being the boss of my own bookish domain.

I've tidied and cleaned and made everything just so. I've become acquainted with the stacks and found the best covers to turn out for discovery. I have organised and made signs and posters. I have built something...

...but the readers have not come.

In two weeks, the library has lent out six books.

see Goodreads
As a small, rural school of roughly 240 students, this isn't terribly surprising (technically there are 45 books in the overdues list so closet readers there be). There just isn't the volume of people going into and out of the library for reading material. I have seen the same faces every day, but they're in the library to do their homework or research on the computer. I put out some board games for the vulnerable, who use the library to hide out, or the bored who spend break time wandering the grounds. Even they need coaxing toward the fiction shelves which are only an arm-stretch away.

It baffles me, but there are a lot of people that don't like reading. Like, that is a thing that exists.

see Goodreads
Some people are choosing to wander around aimlessly rather than discover the portals to Eretz or roam the secret passageways to the tomb of Elena. Some people would rather spin a piece of paper on the table than be transported to Paris and fall in love with a boy called Etienne and some would rather sit in a circle with their friends and stare at their thumbs than discuss the heartwrenching loss of Prim.

This is a thing!!

So, I'm doing the only thing a respectable librarian can do. I'm going to bribe them.

From November to March there is an event being organised by the School Library Service called the Essex Book Awards (Essex being the county the school is located). I have to somehow get a group of readers together, read some books, vote on our favourite and write reviews for the SLS blog. I am going to need a lot of bribes (sweets). Good thing Halloween is next week!

Watch this space for how I'm getting on. And if you were choosing from these books, which would you read first? I've only read SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE and thorougly enjoyed it. I think the students would as well if they could just quit their thing of not reading.

Others shortlisted for the award: I Predict a Riot by Catherine Bruton, Never Ending by Martin Bedford and The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean.


Kristan said...

Confession: I love living vicariously through you, imagining myself as the heroine of the school library, brainstorming ways to lure the kids in... But it's a tough job and I am glad it's you doing it, not me! Because you are AWESOME and I know you will find a way to get those kids engaged. This sounds like a good start.

I don't necessarily have a good recommendation for the Essex Book Awards, but I would say, think about what the kids are into, a book that will surprise them but at the same time not be TOO challenging (because of their reluctance), and in the end, trust your gut!

Sara said...

I hope your idea is going well- I know my high school library struggled to get kids to take out books for anything other than research, but maybe teens just need that extra nudge. Reading is awesome, after all, they just have to realize it!!

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