Let’s Talk Libraries: Our Lady of Good Help (OLGH) – Sarah Olushonde
Appointed as the English Leader at Our Lady of Good Help (OLGH) in September 2021, Sarah Olushonde has become a “proud member of the school’s Senior Leadership Team” and has been responsible for developing the English curriculum, promoting excellent teaching and learning, and looking for ways to keep pupils excited about reading and writing.
Responsibilities of which, Sarah and her colleagues are clearly managing well, with this discussion highlighting the growing, enthusiastic reading culture that’s on display at OLGH – ‘the small school with a big heart’.
- Customer Support
- Automated Overdues
- Student ownership
- Reading Ambassadors
The children have become more familiar with the texts that are on offer, and are now sending me notes with lists of books that they would like us to purchase so that they can further their reading. This is exactly what we were aiming for – children choosing to read for pleasure.
There was no automated library system at OLGH when Sarah arrived, but after some research she soon initiated the move to Accessit Library, feeling supported along the way.
I researched the options available and spoke to staff at the Liverpool Learning Partnership. They recommended a number of options, but I found Accessit Library to be the most affordable option for our small school.
The process was time consuming, every book in our library needed to be catalogued and I had to enrol a volunteer to help me stick all the barcodes in! The staff at Accessit Library were extremely helpful and offered Zoom calls and phone calls to help walk me through the process.
Duncan (from the Accessit Library Support team) has been incredibly helpful. He is extremely patient and no question is too difficult! He is very efficient and has helped me to feel much more confident about using the system. Whenever I send in an email with a query, he sends back screenshots to guide me through the process of answering my queries.
Although Sarah still feels relatively new to the system and unfamiliar with all the features Accessit Library has to offer, there are some features which Sarah quickly identified that not only supports her, but her students at OLGH too.
Instead of chasing children to return books, Accessit Library’s automated system sends reminder letters straight to the parents. This is vital as staff just would not have the time to administer letters themselves. Plus, an official letter is more likely to get a reaction from parents, and the books are more likely to be returned.
Also, the children have been trained to use the scanner themselves; this means they can independently issue and return books. They love the scanner! They find the beeping noise very satisfying and they also enjoy having the responsibility for issuing and returning books themselves.
The ease with which children can select books and issue them means that some children are reading a book a night! This is what we want: pupils independently choosing a book that they want to read, reading it and enjoying it! It feels so satisfying as we are always trying to encourage our pupils to read and enjoy reading – some of the pupils are so eager to change their book and get new ones.
It also means that the students have a sense of ownership over the library. They see it as theirs. Plus, the Reading Ambassadors who man the library are role models to other children, encouraging them to read and get engaged with books and comics.
While the ease of using Accessit Library’s cataloguing functionality has helped to promote student engagement and ownership at OLGH, their Reading Ambassadors and the reading culture at OLGH are down to Sarah, the staff and students themselves.
Our Reading Ambassadors take on the role of the librarian – they are fantastic!
They are children who love to read and are often found at break times with their head deep in a book. They are brilliant role models to the other pupils, as they change the library books themselves and chase up children who have not returned their books within the weekly time frame, using the laptop and scanner to input the children’s names to issue and return the books.
They also promote reading with our younger students, as they take books outside and read to them and with them on the yard, demonstrating that reading can be done anywhere and at any time!
Also, we run a Reading Club during lunch where our Reading Ambassadors from KS2 take a selection of books from the library and sit with our KS1 pupils out on the yard and read to them. The sight of this makes everyone feel proud!
With a clear passion for reading at OLGH, Sarah recognises that there has been a dramatic improvement in user engagement since their switch to Accessit Library, with the issuing of books not even being a possibility before.
It was wonderful to transition to Accessit Library, so that children can have access to high quality texts in the comfort of their own home. It is vital that children see themselves as readers and making the library accessible to them has helped this vision come to fruition.
Children have a clear sense of ownership – it is their library! They have become more familiar with the texts that are on offer, and are now sending me notes with lists of books that they would like us to purchase so that they can further their reading. This is exactly what we were aiming for – children choosing to read for pleasure.
Accessit Library is an excellent resource, which enables children to become independent investors in the books in their school libraries.