My Annual Report

My husband was telling me a few months ago how a new requirement of his company’s parent company was to submit monthly progress reports. It’s a bit of extra work we said, but what a great way to track progress you’ve made, keep managers up to date with what you’re doing (and advocate for your work), and it would be valuable professionally to keep a record of what’s worked, what hasn’t and what you’ve learned. I thought “I wish I’d done this every month when starting my job last September”.

A few months later all the school librarians on the Yahoo School Library Network list-serve starting discussing putting together their annual reports, what people were including and sharing examples. I thought that even though I haven’t done monthly reports at least I can do an end of year report, and it seems to be normal practice amongst school librarians. Whether anyone will read it, who knows, but at least the record will be there!

So I set about putting together my report, and running various statistical reports on Alice, my library management system. It’s a pretty clunky piece of software so most of the reports I ran just to see what would come out the other end. I got some useful stats though and was pleasantly surprised to see that our total book loans were at nearly 12,000!

Vintage student report card. Phil Jern Flicker CC.

Vintage student report card. Source: Phil Jern, ‘report card 1944’, Flickr CC license.

In the report I included stats on borrowing by month, gender and Year group, and also some more topical sections. These covered highlights from Accelerated Reader (we had five ‘millionaire’ readers!), resources (adding of new book stock and regular uptake of the school laptops) and some issues we’ve had with usage of the library for events. In this document I was able to advocate for what the library and library staff contribute to teaching and learning in school by means of statistics and summarising our achievements. I was also able to highlight some issues we’ve faced, some of which had already been raised. I was proud of this bit of work and duly sent it to all members of the school Senior Leadership Team.

It got acknowledged by several members of SLT and all remarked on how useful it was and also that it was a good piece of evidence to show progress in our Ofsted ‘areas for improvement’ or AFIs. The stats on borrowing by gender were apparently surprising (boys borrowed more than girls). It was talked about at the SLT weekend away and they are considering whether it would be useful for me to do one every term. It also apparently spawned a photo op and news article featuring our AR millionaires in a local weekly newspaper.

So a piece of work I undertook solely on my own initiative which I thought might end up being most useful to only me, turned out to be quite handy in addressing school-wide issues such as Ofsted AFIs, giving a picture of reading and literacy across the school and it was actually read by possibly eleven people…well ten, excluding my husband 🙂

Exploring E-Readers

As part of some reading intervention we are doing at school next year, I have been asked to look into getting some Kindles. I thought it was a great idea as our students LOVE technology and it would be something different from the typical reading lesson. I don’t have an e-reader myself, so the only things I knew about the topic were bits gleaned from the wider library world. This was not a small amount actually as it is a hot button issue at the moment: viz. Amazon’s recent announcement of Kindle “Unlimited”, where you get unlimited e-book downloads for a monthly fee, was making waves on library-related social media. So I at least knew there were some copyright and legal issues involved with using e-readers in libraries.

My first step was to search the archives of (what I call) “Collective Wisdom” on the Yahoo School Library Network. This turned up several threads that in the end seemed to conclude that lending either Kindle the device or the content violates Amazon’s terms and conditions (they are for personal use only). However some schools still use them, but one librarian commented that you don’t want to be the school Amazon goes after. I do tend to doubt they would prosecute for this; imagine the headlines – “Online Behemoth Amazon Seeks to Stop British Schoolchildren Reading for Pleasure” – not good public relations really.

Another e-reader option, Kobos, came up in the SLN threads. Several school librarians went to great lengths to ascertain the legality of their use in schools and got written permission from the Kobo people. So I am currently looking into this option for our school. It has been suggested to start off with a pilot group of about a dozen students.

Further information on e-reader issues and campaigns:

CILIP briefing on ebooks

Jisc summary statement on copyright issues