Edinburgh School Libraries in Lockdown

We asked Fiona who is the school librarian at Boroughmuir High School to reflect on both her own and the experiences of her colleagues during lockdown.

Working in an Edinburgh school library is an incredibly busy role. As the sole person delivering the library service in our schools, we wear many hats including being:
• A book recommendation sage – using our encyclopedic knowledge of children and young adult fiction to give tailored suggestions
• Guardian of the library for pupils in need of a quieter space – including supporting mental health and wellbeing
• Guru of information literacy skills – delivering lessons to pupils to encourage good practice in finding information
• A wizard who can magic up activities and events – from World Book Day to Book Week Scotland. If there is a celebration, we are celebrating it
• An expert in every subject delivered in school – often we are asked for information resources to support a subject’s curriculum and/or assignments.

There is never a quiet moment in a school library – it is a fun place to work. The relationships and engagement we have with our pupils means that there is never a dull moment. Like everyone else, our roles changed dramatically in March.

Moving to ‘working from home’ has created several challenges for us. The two biggest challenges have been delivering a virtual ‘school library’ and finding ways to keep our pupils engaged with reading.

The first challenge – delivering a virtual ‘school library’ – has varied between schools. Part of our role is to tailor the service to the school community’s needs. There are so many different examples of the work we are doing, at  Broughton High School the librarian is delivering #Bibliotherapy sessions; Craigmount High School is running an online book group and; Boroughmuir High School is delivering a ‘I wonder…’ information skills project for S1 pupils.

The other challenge -keeping pupils engaged with reading – has been something no matter the school we can do together. One of our key jobs is to visibly promote reading across the school and engage pupils with the joys reading can bring.

As a group, we are a creative and collaborative bunch. It is collaboration and a sense of fun that inspired the creation of the #EdinburghSchoolLibrarians on Twitter. We can’t take all the credit here as the Glasgow school librarians started it off – but we have taken the idea and made it our own.

Every weekday we have a different daily challenge that promotes reading and often reveals insights into the school librarians’ personal reading choices. The rules are simple! One school librarian picks the daily challenges for the week and tell us the hashtags we need to use in our Tweets. We all then have one day to post our challenge. It is that easy!

We have used the daily challenges to celebrate World Book Night, create our own superheroes and post ‘shelfies’ of our personal libraries and book faces, and the response has been incredible. It has grown a lot with departments from our schools and members of our school community also taking part. 

We have many more daily challenges to go and are coming up with new ideas for them every week. So, if you are up for some fun, and would like to part in our daily challenges, come join us. We would love to meet you!