The School Library
The library at SLGGS is a thriving part of the school community and a friendly, comfortable and quiet place to work and relax for all year groups.
Our librarian is Mrs Smith, who is helped by a dedicated team of Junior Librarians from Year 8 onwards. Sixth form librarians can also apply for the position of Head Librarian. We currently have three Head Librarians: Charis King, Chloe Picton and Ramani Chandramohan.
Every year, the Head Librarians take on a project to improve the library, such as introducing new seating or inviting an author to visit the school. We are currently carrying out a survey of students and staff to see what changes they would like to make to the library.
Students are encouraged to use the library throughout their time at SLGGS. Year 7s can enter an annual competition to design a book jacket for their favourite book. Year 7 students and new members of the sixth form receive a library induction when they join the school. We also regularly hold book and cake sales to raise money for the charity BookAid International and for projects within the library.
“A friendly and comfortable place to study, the library is perfect for getting work done away from the background noise of the Common Room. The librarians are always on hand and helpful if you need assistance. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you sit down and really set your mind to it without distraction!”
Olivia, Year 13
The library contains 14,500 volumes across both fiction and non-fiction, so there are a wide range of books to suit many different interests.
Students are also welcome to use the following:
- Computers for completing schoolwork
- A range of DVDs for students to watch in the library or at home
- A selection of newspapers and magazines
- Subject-specific and foreign language resources
- Dictionaries for reference use
Our Author and Theme of the Month display boards offer recommendations for books that students may not have considered before. Additionally, we use student suggestions to continue to add resources to the library collection.
Below is an article from the school’s 2015 inaugural Yearbook which gives an insight into both the library and our librarians.
“Mind-expanding, resourceful and quiet”: Welcome to the school library
The author Neil Gaiman once said “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one”. You only have to make the arduous journey up several flights of stairs to the library on the top corridor to see that Gaiman is right.
I have been a school librarian since Year 8 and I am unashamed to admit that the library now feels like a second home to me. We are unbelievably lucky at SLGGS to have two professionally trained and enthusiastic librarians – Mrs Smith and Mrs Clark - who help sixth form and lower school students alike, with requests ranging from borrowing staplers to deciphering the mysteries of the Dewey Decimal System. But what are the personal stories that lie between the covers of the library’s 14,500 volumes?
So how does the school library compare to public and university libraries?
Although Mrs Smith has never worked in a public library, she told me that the school library has a closed user group, which essentially means that she knows virtually all of the people who use it. This is less common in public libraries. However, “the funding for school libraries is a lot less than for university libraries. At a time when many positions as professional librarians are being cut, we’re very fortunate to still be able to run the library.” “There are certainly differences between the school library and public libraries”, added Mrs Clark. “Public libraries can be seen as a real place of safety for some users. Homeless people sometimes use the library as a warmer place to go to during the day.”
“The library is a great place to keep yourself occupied and the staff are nice. I like the books and the fact that it’s quiet in here, so it gives you a break from the form room. The library is open all day and afterschool and you can come in most of the time. It’s always so calm in here - it just has a certain vibe to it that reminds me of the Karma soap from Lush!”
Ellie, Year 8
But why we should we use libraries when we have the Internet?
As Mrs Clark pointed out, “we have a massive stock of resources in the school library, the likes of which no one person would be able to keep at home. A trip to the library can open your mind and show you things you wouldn’t necessarily find out in your everyday life. It’s different to searching on Google - books are physical things that you can explore in much more detail.”
How would you describe the library?
“The library is very much a social and pastoral place. It’s also a guaranteed working environment and a quiet, homely place to study. It can be a safe haven for girls when they’re not feeling at their best or when they’re just getting used to the school,” said Mrs Smith. “But when you then see those same girls running around in the corridors, you know that they have settled in.” Mrs Clark neatly summed up the library as “mind-expanding, resourceful and quiet”.
What is the daily routine of a librarian like?
The first part of the routine in the morning involves the Head Librarian, who is a sixth form student, making sure the library is ready to go before school. When new books come into the library, Mrs Smith assigns them a class number according to the Dewey Decimal manual. This will determine where they are shelved in the Library. Mrs Clark is responsible for accessioning them and giving them a barcode. Apart from all books being on the computer catalogue, “there is also a handwritten book for recording all the books held in the library. It’s a valuable item for insurance purposes.” And, I might add, one of the first things Mrs Smith thinks of during a fire drill!
How would you sell the job of school librarian?
At SLGGS, we currently have a large team of school librarians across the years. “Mrs Clark and I really appreciate the work of the student librarians, particularly during those busy lunchtimes and we certainly couldn’t do our jobs without them. We’ve also had several great male school librarians and one became a Head Librarian last year. I would definitely encourage other male students to apply,” said Mrs Smith.
She added “I think that being a school librarian gives you good training for the world of work, particularly for the sixth form. For example, you develop social skills when dealing with ‘customers’ at the desk. Even when girls become librarians in Year 8, they have to submit an application letter, as they would for a job.”
In fact, inspired by Mrs Smith and Mrs Clark’s work, several former students have followed in their footsteps, by going on to complete professional librarianship courses after being school librarians. One recently secured a graduate internship at the prestigious London Library.
“The library is a wonderful place to work because it’s a friendly environment and contains all the resources you could ever need and most of all, it’s quiet!”
Holly, Year 11
So I beg you, don’t dismiss the library as a boring place of no relevance to your life. Open the slightly awkward door and explore everything that’s available to you here - and not just during the cake sales…But if that isn’t enough to persuade you, the words of Mrs Smith, who is also the school’s exam officer, might: “I’ve noticed over the years that there’s a high correlation between good exam results and those who study in the library. Working in here on a regular basis definitely pays off in the long term.” Hear that, sixth form?!
But there’s just one thing to remember when you come in: sssh…it’s still the library!
Written by Ramani Chandramohan