A Barbarian in the Reading room

Welcome to my blog


Why this title? Well in my last school job I had a reading (as in reading a book) room and this was used on Open Days by the Learning Support Department. At one such event they put up a notice saying Leaning Support and I said "Oh I suppose this is the Reading (as in UK town to the west of London) Room now." They retorted by naming me the Barbarian and it has sort of stuck.


Sadly, this blog does not include much about Reading (as in the UK town to the west of London) or barbarians but will contain my thoughts on issues in the library and information world and also detail some of the events I have attended, places I have visited and courses I have run. Enjoy!

By sjpavey, Aug 1 2014 11:35AM

I never imagined I would have such a busy and exciting month ...and officially I have not even left Box Hill School's employment yet.

I have just begun a new keep fit regime by helping out at a primary school in Kent. Following a visit at the beginning of the month and a consultancy report I offered to help out with the physical side of the job and spent two 8 hour days lifting, carrying and sorting in the summer heatwave to achieve the bulk of transforming one very neglected library into two inspiring places - one for infants and one for juniors. Seeing the project evolve made up for the fact that I was barely able to walk afterwards and hobbled around like a 90 year old! I have one more day to do at the end of August. It was so uplifting to be engaged by a forward thinking headmaster who realised the libraries could be the key to opening doors to the future for his young pupils.

Doors have been opening for me too and I may have the chance to pursue further my research interests into the impact of auditory learning through collaboration with GCSE Pod. There is so little research on comparisons between the use of audio alone vs video in retention of understanding and content. I have been thinking about the spate of articles on the distraction caused by overbusy wall displays in classrooms and think this could be linked into the same brain patterns in terms of pedagogy and resulting achievement of students. It would be brilliant to be able to investigate further. Does this also have implications for library displays I wonder? Could we use a form of audio tag as a virtual reality option rather like Aurasma has done with video?

Our action research group eLRARG has decided to look at revising our collaborative book The Innovative School Librarian and so we have all been given our homework for the Summer. Hopefully it will take us considerably less time to revise than the two years it took to write initially!

There have been so many things happening and I am writing a new online course on Academic Honesty for the School Library Association, my singing band Morrigan is really beginning to make progress and we have produced our CD and then there are the ceilidh gigs. I've also been keeping an eye on technology developments and following my bitter disappointment of the demise of Xtranormal and so pleased to see that Plotagon have taken up the banner complete with school scenarios (including a library) and characters. I never believed my freelance life would be so busy so soon.

However the best news of the month has to be my acceptance as an Associate with Independent Thinking. I never thought that my application would be considered and just being invited to interview was a great honour. The company say they seek out the inspirational geniuses from the nutters and so it was with trepidation and an X Factor like fear that I met them near Leicester. I spent a wonderful hour and a half with Dave, Nina and Hywel and at the end felt so excited and brimming with ideas. When two days later I discovered I had been welcomed into their family I was over the moon and am so looking forward to joining and working with such an amazing bunch of people.

So I have now trained my successor at Box Hill School, handed in my keys and the future beckons. Off for a holiday now!

By sjpavey, Mar 23 2014 01:47PM

This month has been full of exciting training opportunities that have kept me very busy in a variety of areas in the library world.

Just before the beginning of the month I gave a talk to Heads of Departments at Westminster School in London about Academic Honesty and in particular how we have been using the software Turnitin at Box Hill School as a teaching and educational tool rather than a catch out method for suspected plagiarism. This talk was expanded for another session I conducted with the Eton Group of librarians who met at Marlborough College mid March where the topic was Academic Honesty. This is such a priority at Universities as where the risks of plagiarism can have a devastating effect upon the authenticity of research and thus have far reaching implications and consequences. It is so important to ensure our school leavers understand the importance of referencing their work correctly and highlighting and claiming their own contributions and discoveries. This is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of the IB Diploma programme in particular which personally I feel does much to encourage such practice.

I also ran a course for Heaths Educational Books in Sutton about engaging KS4 students in the Library. At ages 14 -16 in the UK there is a noticeable drop off in Library use and I believe much of this is due to exam pressure and the social impact of growing up. I was encouraged that the recent DEMOS report on Generation Citizen also looked at self image and social networking as impact factors in the lives of current teenagers. The course looked at how controlled assessments could be used as a hook for library use in KS4 and also considered how remote use of resources could encourage engagement without teenagers losing their street cred in terms of self image and being seen in the library. The DEMOS report also suggested the skills that would be needed in 2020 - only 6 years away and all of them relate to the work we are so competent in as librarians and information professionals.....oh and I did mention about fiction too!!!

Another course was for Creative Education on the Effective School Librarian. This was attended by a mixture of private and state school librarians but what made it an unusual mix was that all bar one delegate worked in a school that began with Year 9 (13 year olds). This made the focus of the library very much KS4 and KS5 and presented challenges in that there was not much non examined work (as associated with KS3). The discussion was lively and I was able to bring in some of the Heaths Course material into the day.

To wrap up March I will be attending a meeting for Librarians from independent schools next week where there will be much discussion of the school library world and of course the forthcoming School Libraries Group of CILIP conference at the beginning of April. I must start writing those presentations!

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