School Librarian of the Year 2018: Finalists unveiled

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:
Word up: Secondary school librarian Emma Suffield is among the finalists for this year’s School Librarian of the Year

Four outstanding school librarians are in the running for the 2018 School Librarian of the Year award.

The quartet – from two secondary schools, a primary school and an international school in India respectively – have been shortlisted for their commitment to making a difference to the lives of the pupils they work with.

Emma Suffield, learning resources centre manager at Saint Wilfrid’s CE Academy in Blackburn, has run her school library since 2014. In that time, her determination to engage the school’s 1,400 students in reading has led to an astounding
450 per cent increase in book borrowing.

She uses her blog to post book reviews, highlight library resources, book clubs and daily reading activities and promote the library’s Staff Shout Out display, where students can thank members of staff for their support. At one point she even transformed the library into the Great Hall at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The second contender for the award is Alison Kennedy, head librarian at St George’s Ascot, an independent school for girls in Berkshire. As well as inspiring pupils to read for pleasure, she is also a head of house, form tutor and Extended Project co-ordinator.

Ms Kennedy uses social media to engage pupils and teachers with the library. Other initiatives include opening the library to boarders for an out-of-hours Harry Potter celebration, running a book fairies treasure hunt (where pupils solved clues to find new books), poetry reading events, Golden Snitch hunts and theatre productions.

The other two librarians on this year’s honour list are Nicki Cleveland, school librarian and higher level teaching assistant at Cannon Park Primary School in Coventry, and Dr Chhavi Jain, who manages a large multilingual library at Manav Rachna International School outside New Delhi in India.

The winner of the award, which is organised by the School Library Association, will be announced by award-winning novelist Lauren St John at a ceremony in London on October 9.

Lesley Martin, chair of the selection committee, paid tribute to the four exceptional librarians on the 2018 shortlist, praising them for the way in which they had ignited students’ passion for reading, taught essential study skills, supported staff and reached out to their wider communities.

“Our honour list comprises four very different but equally effective librarians who display high levels of professionalism and commitment,” she said. “Each has demonstrated innovation, commitment and passion to developing their pupils as readers and learners and transforming the perception of reading and libraries in their schools.”


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