Anna James, Librarian, Heart of England School

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Hello. My name is Anna and I’m currently the librarian at Heart of England school – a large secondary and sixth form in the West Midlands. I’m at the start of my fifth year here – before that I did a graduate traineeship with Warwickshire Records Management. I’m also doing my MSc Econ from Aberystwyth University – I’ve completed the diploma element and am working on my dissertation at the moment which is about the influence of fairy tales on modern teenage fiction. I did my BA in History at the University of Birmingham.

As the sole librarian in the school that means I do a bit of everything – which is pretty common for school librarians.So stock selection and buying, cataloguing, organising events and marketing amongst other things. Whilst I’m a huge believer in a school librarian’s role in getting involved with teaching information literacy skills and work with teachers across the curriculum to get this including in lessons, my heart really lies with reading for pleasure projects.

I’m such a huge advocate for the importance and impact of reading for pleasure. My favourite part of my job will always be giving a student a book that opens their eyes to the wonder of reading. Introducing students to books they love, talking to them about what they’re reading, reading to and with them, introducing them to authors they love and taking them to events is such a joy. I also work closely with our English department planning and teaching lessons as well as organising lots of school events throughout the year such as sponsored reads, shadowing book awards (we’re currently in the middle of our Man Booker sixth form shadowing) and author visits.

Speaking of author visits – I’m going to be tweeting through our first ever Book Week during which we have five authors in school, so it’s going to be a manic week!

Sometimes I feel that school librarians are seen as the younger siblings of more ‘serious’ elements of the information profession. Also, schools are getting rid of their libraries and librarians at a frightening rate and it can sometimes be tough being the only librarian in a building full of a different profession. So I want to talk about why school librarians sometimes have an awkward reputation both outside and inside the profession. But I also want to shout about all the things that school librarians are doing to engage young people in libraries and reading, share ideas and discuss how to keep that going.

One of my greatest pleasures in life is recommending books. I have to try very hard not to go and talk to strangers who are reading books I’ve loved. I have a weakness for library ephemera such as t-shirts and jewellery. I am a big supporter of independent bookshops as well as libraries and I model wedding dresses in my spare time. I normally tweet at @acaseforbooks and I blog about books at www.acaseforbooks.com.

2 thoughts on “Anna James, Librarian, Heart of England School

  1. Dr Malcolm Rigler

    Great to hear about your work as a school librarian . DO you have much contact with the school nurse ? The “libraries and health” revolution is well on its way. Is your school planning a community conversation about this new way of supporting NHS consultations / the “Books on Prescription” project / information of prescription ?

    Reply
  2. Dr. Malcolm RIgler

    Correction : in last sentance above I meant “information on prescription / also known as “Consultation Plus” / malcolm

    Reply

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