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Department of Information Studies


Reading for Excellence by Becky Scott

By Anne Welsh, on 17 November 2014


I recently attended the School Library Association’s Reading for Excellence one day conference.

Wendy Cooling MBE, founder of Bookstart, opened the day with an inspirational talk on her own journey of reading and libraries. Reading for her meant two words: power and passion. Reading, she believes, gives young people power and without it they have very few choices. Passion, as librarians, is what we all have for reading and we have a responsibility to ignite this in our young people.

Dr Clare Wood then presented a number of studies conducted from the Reading Research and Insights into Achievement centre at the University of Coventry. A recent study by PHD student Emily Harrison investigated the link between children’s ability to hear speech rhythm and their progress in reading. Her research is not yet in the public domain but previous research by Corriveau et al on auditory processing skills and language and literacy achievement is available.

Clare also spoke about a study by Smith et al on reading enjoyment and how despite a steady improvement in children’s reading ability between the ages 8 – 12, their enjoyment and self-efficacy declines. As a school librarian working with children in this age group, this is of particular interest to me. One finding of the research suggested that 80% of pupils enjoyed books that they selected for themselves. This highlights the importance of reading for pleasure and the need for us as adults, librarians, teachers and parents to reconsider what we view as legitimate reading and the importance of validating pupils’ own reading selection choices.

Karen Goulding, Learning Hub Director at the University of Reading, challenged us to consider our library space and ask ourselves: “Are we making a substantial impact on all children? How do we decide what to include? Do we realise that means we make choices about exclusion too?” This was a powerful insight into thinking about school libraries. Karen advised us spend time simply observing how pupils move around the space, what sections they are drawn to and which areas they overlook. She also emphasised the need to engage with our users and develop a clear strategy for moving our libraries forward.

There was also the chance to participate in a workshop. I selected Thinking Skills and Reading because I want to develop a deeper understanding of the role of reading across the whole curriculum. Sue Dixon, founder of the Thinking Child, stimulated us with a range of practical activities which we could take back and explore with our pupils. Sue highlighted the importance of pupils as social and political critical thinkers in our information rich society. The activities were designed to promote curiosity, imagination and questioning.

The day concluded with a talk from Marilyn Mottram, Her Majesty’s Ofsted Inspector, Deputy National Lead for English and Literacy. The audience welcomed the recognition of the importance for reading for pleasure in the new curriculum. Marilyn identified that 10.2% of pupils aged between 8 – 16 do not enjoy reading at all. This is a challenge for schools to overcome and it is through partnership that it can be achieved. Everyone in education has a role to play. It begins with being a reader yourself and as a librarian being ready to share your subject knowledge and passion with teachers, parents, and of course, pupils.


Becky Scott (@the_bookette), School Librarian, St Aubyn’s School, is completing her MA LIS part-time.

Image: St Aubyn’s School Library by Becky Scott, used with permission.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Becky Scott is the sole author of this piece, and also holds the copyright for the image.

My First Week at UCL by Becky Scott

By Anne Welsh, on 26 September 2014

UCL 2014 by Susan Greenberg


New beginnings are always a little daunting. Arriving at one of the world’s best universities to study at Masters level can make you feel more than a little awed by the task. When you add to that the fact that I haven’t studied in this way for ten years, you can imagine my nervousness as I waited in line to enrol in our department on the first day. But as I look back the end of Induction Week, I feel that anything is possible over the coming year.

My course tutors have both challenged me and supported me. Those first day nerves are gone now. I am already submerged in the language of Library and Information Studies. Reflecting on the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base, I know my strengths as well as the areas which I need to develop. Charlie has asked us simply “to read and to think” and as Librarians these are two things that are second nature to us. We love learning. We love helping others to learn. Reading and thinking are achievable tasks.

Of course I had fears that I wouldn’t fit in. We come from a diverse range of disciplines and, as Anne said, a range of different ‘cultural backgrounds’. But as each day passed, we got to know one and other and I have realised that we are all kind, welcoming and willing to help each other. Certainly, using the exercise to “find someone who…” stopped me being intimidated and helped me start conversations on Librarianship but many other topics too.

My classmates have guided me across campus to lecture theatres, helped me register with Senate House Library and even find the cash machine. They have made this week enjoyable and entertaining. Every day, I discover that I love studying at a London university. There are so many treasures to discover: museums, farmers’ markets and of course, libraries. Visiting the Royal Astronomical Society Library was a wonderful opportunity to explore a special collection but also to learn from the day to day challenges of an experienced practitioner.

In just five days, I have gone from fearing the dissertation to being open to all ideas which may be sparked in my seminars. I felt inspired by Henry and Fiona – two recent Department of Information Studies graduates – who shared their experiences of writing the dissertation and how they shaped their  ideas.

I write this as just one voice in the LIS class of 2014/2015 but we are all on our UCL learning journey. New beginnings may be a little daunting but they are also simulating, thought-provoking and full of potential.


Becky Scott (@the_bookette) is working as a school librarian while studying for her MA LIS.

Image: Dr Susan Greenberg. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Becky Scott is the sole author of this piece, with the image provided by Susan Greenberg.