Steve Rosson tells all…
1. The only time the Head will visit the library will be to hold meetings there (staff, parents, governors, TVEI partnership, etc.), because, ‘It’s a nice big room and it’s bright and attractive.’
2. The only time most of the staff will visit the library will be to check up on the fourteen Shakespeare play titles that don’t include a character’s name. It was part of the blockbuster question in the previous night’s quiz context.
3. The only time most of the pupils will visit the library will be when it’s coming down like stair-rods outside. Even then, they’ll only want to check the paper to see at what time the horror movie starts on ITV that night.
4. The only time most of the Sixth Form will visit the library will be for the pre-exam lunchtime buffet they like to hold there because, ‘It’s a nice big room and it’s bright and attractive.’
5. Three weeks after the lunchtime buffet, you’ll find a half-eaten vegetable samosa lurking behind the books on Ancient Egypt.
6. During one break-time, all thirty members of tutor group 1.7 will ask whether you have any information on Scarra Brae. By dint of questioning worthy of the Spanish Inquisition, you’ll discover that it’s an Iron Age village in the Orkney Islands now studied in the First Year ‘History as Evidence’ course. Naturally, there’s nothing in the library.
7. You’ll admit utter defeat on another day when a First Year boy asks for ‘a book with some knowledge in it’.
8. Whatever way you arrange your shelves, you’ll find the books on the Human Body will be in the furthest corner from the issue desk and you’ll be constantly dispersing groups of boys intent on ‘improving’ the diagrams and pictures.
9. You’ll stop buying books on cricket when you find they have a shelf life of approximately three days before mysteriously disappearing.
10. You’ll fall into the pit of despair when a colleague on the teaching staff is heard to say, ‘He needs to get rid of all this fiction and buy some GCSE Chemistry texts.’
11. You’ll meet some of the pleasantest children in the school whose enthusiasm for reading will help you through the dark days of curriculum audits and development plans.
12. You’ll be able to wander round bookshops, choose books to your heart’s content and someone else will pay.
13. One day a colleague you’d long ago deemed to be an irredeemable Philistine will corner you and say, ‘You know, you’ve got some marvellous books in this library.’
14. Every time you put up a display of latest acquisitions, your heart will lift as each new group of borrowers comes in and says, ‘Ah great. New books.’
15. Some of the children you teach will actually learn to spell ‘Library’.
16. You begin to realise your efforts have been worthwhile when someone who’s borrowed a book that you’ve selected for the library returns it and says, ‘That was brilliant. Have you got any more like that?’
17. You’ll be able to poke your nose into everything that’s happening at the school as the library can embrace all curriculum areas and all out-of-school activities.
18. Slowly, but surely, you’ll come to realise there are others on the staff who value reading and are concerned about information skills; they’re just too snowed under with other matters to make this a priority. Youcan be the person who makes things happen.
19. The people you meet in the Public Library Service, the Schools’ Library Service, on library INSET courses and in bookshops will prove to be some of the nicest people imaginable, so confirming what you already know: books can have an enormous influence on those who read them.
20. By becoming a teacher-librarian, you’ll be entering the magical world of children’s books. You’ll read books that’ll make you laugh out loud and books that’ll make you cry. You’ll see the world in new ways through the quality of illustration in the best non-fiction books. By insisting that only books of the highest quality are allowed shelf space in your library, You will help so many youngsters enter this magical world, too.
Steve Rosson is a teacher-librarian at Moseley School, Birmingham.