Last week, SLIC was at the Scottish Learning Festival talking all things school libraries at their exhibition stand. Copies of the recently published National Strategy for School Libraries were being handed out to visitors, and school librarians from North Ayrshire, Falkirk, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire and Midlothian were volunteering on the stand, discussing their experiences with attendees.

It was a jam-packed couple of days, and the stand proved to be very popular among visitors. There was an overwhelmingly positive response with approximately 1000 copies of Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools being distributed to a wide variety of attendees including librarians, teachers, early years practitioners, students and head teachers. Many stopped to discuss the new document, which is the first of its kind in the UK. Attendees understood the value of school libraries and the impact they can have on learning in the school, with one visitor commenting that “libraries are vital.”

The Chair of the School Library Strategy National Advisory Group and SLIC’s CEO joined SLIC staff and volunteers at the stand on Wednesday morning as attendees eagerly took some of the first copies. Two pupils were seen eyeing up the free bags and pens and, while handing them over, were asked about the presentation they were about to give. It turned out to be a research project in conjunction with a university and they had used the school library for their research!

Many spoke enthusiastically about their library and school librarian and discussed the impact they have had on the school community. Others mentioned how invaluable the service is, having an influence on standards of literacy, mental health, wellbeing and information literacy in the school. One attendee went on to say, “it's about creating a space” and “there’s a big difference between a room of books and a library.” Staff from Education Scotland and the Scottish Government also talked about the value they see in school libraries, with one attendee commenting “I think it is really important.”

The conversations that were had at the stand had a real impact on staff and delegates alike, with one teacher commenting “this is the first thing today that's made me think I can really do something” with a plan to set up a library in her primary school. The librarians volunteering also had the chance to hear about effective initiatives, for instance from one teacher at a specialist school where all pupils have allocated time for 45 minutes reading after lunch. It was clear that there is a lot of great work being done in Scotland’s school libraries.

Inspired? We believe it’s more important than ever that the successes of school libraries and librarians are shouted about. If you’ve been working on an innovative project, or have some exciting developments happening with your school library service, why not apply to speak at next year’s Scottish Learning Festival? Find out more and apply here.