CILIP SW blog intends to be a window into all sectors of library and information services in the South West region. Here Julie Hoskins, LRC Manager of the Learning Resource Centre, incorporating the Library at Gryphon School, Sherborne reflects on the challenges of the busy autumn term.
The Gryphon School, Sherborne, Dorset is a large comprehensive in a mainly rural, farming area. Most of the students are bused in from the neighbouring villages. The LRC is in the centre of the school on two floors with 17 PCs and working space for around 90 students downstairs and 53 computers upstairs. We are open from 8.30 am until 5.00 pm every day. We have a large sixth form (approximately 450 students), who have to register with us during study periods, so our days are pretty busy. I am lucky enough to have two assistants that make up a full-time role to help me with the running of the LRC.
At the beginning of term we have the usual intake of 250 new Year 7 pupils and around 125 new Year 12 students (with 125 staying on from Year 11). This is a busy time in the LRC; our loans are always much higher in September and October. I also have to try to schedule in library inductions to make sure students have the knowledge to find the information they need.
The Year 7s have traditionally used one of their English sessions (we work a fortnightly timetable) to come into the LRC and I teach a series of six lessons between September and Christmas. This works well and enables me to cover the essentials such as how to find the books on the catalogue as well as the shelves, how our Library Management System (LMS) works and writing reviews on books. I also have time to do a few fun activities like; playing The Reading Game [a game devised by Carel Press to inspire young readers], making bunting featuring favourite books and authors to hang up in the LRC and looking at the books for sale in Scholastic Books’ travelling annual book fair.
The Year 7s really enjoy their sessions, run with the aid of technology; we have three class sets of i-Pads that can be booked by teachers. I have been able to make my sessions much more interactive. For my introductory session, rather than spending 30 minutes just talking about the LRC, I have made a series of QR codes to link to videos of me telling the students about the area (there are 12 clips in total, all less than a minute long). This works well, as they get to move around the LRC and find where things are. They can also listen to the clips more than once, if they don’t understand the first time around. The LMS that we use, Eclipse, has an app for the Library catalogue, which the school has purchased. I am able to use the i-Pads and the students can log into their accounts, look up books, and then take the i-Pad with them to find the book on the shelf. This is so much easier than them trying to remember the cover and the Dewey number / fiction code to find the item on the shelf.
Trying to get Year 12s in for inductions has proven a little more difficult. This year, I have managed to get a slot with two tutor groups at a time coming in during afternoon registration. This has been challenging to say the very least. Afternoon registration is only 20 minutes; by the time they have registered and remembered to come to the LRC, it has left me with a maximum of 15 minutes and a minimum of 10 minutes to deliver a presentation, which would have been a lot easier with around half an hour. That said, I have managed to deliver a brief version of my presentation. Hopefully at least the new Year 12 students know where to go to look for information and can always ask if not sure. We subscribe to InfoTrac Student Edition, which is a database of online magazines and academic journals and issues online. I also encourage students to become members of their local libraries and access the free online information available through them.
I know that I am lucky in my school that everyone sees the importance of the students knowing how to use the LRC and time is allocated, even if shorter than ideal to try and fit in the inductions.