Happy camping: a School Library Camp first experience

On Saturday 14th June I had the pleasure of attending School Library Camp North West at Manchester Metropolitan University. The event was initiated by Darren Flynn, Information Literacy Lead at Dixons Allerton Academy in Bradford, and was actually just one of five camps taking place simultaneously across the UK.  There were plans initially to link up via Skype but unfortunately due to technical issues at various sites this wasn’t achievable on the day. Darren himself was based at the Leeds site but we had the lovely Sarah McNicol, MMU ESRI, and Catherine McManamon, MMU Library Service, co-ordinating the event.

The day kicked off at 9.30am, an early start for a Saturday but that didn’t put off the attendees who were on time bright and early eager to get going. There were about twenty participants in total, mostly school librarians and another library student like me. Following introductions from everyone we pitched our ideas for topic discussions on post-it notes and stuck them to a large sheet of paper.  Sarah performed a bit of jiggery pokery and hey presto we had a timetable for the day. Discussions took place in three different rooms with four sessions in each room, giving a total of twelve discussions. The final session was a plenary and we finished up at about 4pm.

School Library Camp timetable

I attended three sessions: getting staff to use the library, information books and information literacy. The school library camp crowd were a wonderfully enthusiastic bunch. There was never any trouble getting people to talk, in fact the constant interruptions just added to the buzzing conversation.  Idea sharing was in full swing and I was really impressed with the library camp approach. My favourite suggestions from the day were: taking a pop-up library (books on trolleys) around the school occasionally; teachers reading aloud in the library on Fridays; book speed-dating with staff and students; thinking about the library as a space for happiness and well-being; using colour coding instead of Dewey for non-fiction; and most bizarrely of all buying a library pet to loan out to students!

I was really pleased to attend School Library Camp North West.  I completed a work placement in a school library last year and really enjoyed the experience.  In addition, as a former owner of a small independent bookshop I believe there are a lot of similarities between the roles: responsibility for absolutely everything falls to you; but with it the opportunity for unlimited creative freedom.

Well done to all involved in the organisation of School Library Camp and thank you to my fellow attendees for making it such a great day.

For further coverage on the event see this post by co-ordinator Sarah McNicol on the MMU ESRI blog.

Lyn Denny


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