The Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF) supports creative and innovative library projects throughout Scotland. Today Children and Families Development Officer Sylvia Main talks about supporting the literacy learning needs of emergent readers in Angus.
Our PLIF funded project was a joint venture between ANGUSalive Libraries and Northmuir Primary in Kirriemuir. We wanted to highlight the library service as a place of learning within our community and having enjoyed many years of partnership working with local schools, we were delighted to work collaboratively on such an innovative project.
The aim of the project was not just to promote help for children learning to read. We also wanted to help families connect and empower parents to support their children by understanding how their library worked.
We wanted to:
Make it easier for parents and children to find and select appropriate books.
Help parents to develop good reading habits at home.
Help parents to feel confident in supporting their child’s literacy learning at home.
Promote existing services and resources more widely in the community.
Our first step was to set up a working group to look at creating literature and digital content to support the scheme. We also carried out an audit which allowed us to see gaps in our current collection and, from there, purchase some new stock.
The new stock was aimed at emergent readers and as such, concentrated on titles which focused on decoding works and practising phonics. We produced a ‘Learning to Read’ leaflet which covered areas like how to join the library, how to make reading fun and learning to love books. A series of fun bookmarks was also created and placed in books throughout the library, ready to be found by the next reader. The bookmarks, which targeted emerging, developing and independent readers, were well received by children and parents alike.
A key component of our project was creating a series of ‘How To’ videos, focusing on helping families make the most of library resources. Filmed by Deputy Head Jonathon Brown from Northmuir Primary, the videos covered areas like accessing the Encyclopaedia Britannia online and downloading free audio books and eBooks.
The video 'Getting The Most Out Of Your Library' has been viewed more than 1200 times – helping many pupils and parents alike access our services. Promoting the scheme on social media was important, as was coverage in school newsletters and talks. This ultimately led to our project launch in Kirriemuir Library where we showcased our new stock, videos, leaflets and bookmarks.
We wanted to create a culture where young readers and families felt confident going to their library and selecting books to read for pleasure. A large part of this was making them aware of the full range of literacy development resources available to them through the library.
The result has been an increase not only in library membership but also in issue figures. We have strengthened our working relationships with partners in the community and feel we have inspired families to read and learn together.
Through discussions, we have already extended our collection to include books dealing with behavioural and emotional issues. This is to support families dealing with conflict whether at home or at school. We would also like to hold interactive workshops within the library and this is something we are working on.
The project has been a great success with everyone involved – children, parents, teachers and library staff – gaining something from the scheme.