School libraries: Excellence in practice — Amesbury School

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Carolyn Knight and colleagues at Amesbury School talk about how their school library supports literacy and student inquiry.


Carolyn Knight: Good morning girls

I'm Carolyn Knight and I'm the library based teacher at Amesbury school which is a new year 1–6 school that's just opened in 2012

I think of myself as a teacher first and in the past I've been a teacher with library responsibility and I've always loved teaching literacy. I'm an avid reader myself. I love sharing that with children and engendering a love of literature and reading with them.

At Amesbury school we think of the library as the heart of the school — that's both in a physical sense I guess and a learning sense.

Lisa Bengtsson: It's just physically the middle plus it's just got such a wonderful kind of
vibe in our library, lots of things are run in our library.

There's constantly children coming in and out of our library, it's the middle of everything in it literally, physically is the heart and soul of our school.

It's wonderful.

Tara Taylor-Jorgensen: Whenever I'm on release I hangout on the beanbags over there and just sit there with my headphones on and my laptop and I work away there.

And it's really good because if kids are coming in I can have chats with them and being here again because it's so central everyone knows where I am.

It really is the heart of the school.

Carolyn Knight: The children don't only do reading in this library, they do all types of learning whether it's using an iPad to do some filming and then produce something on puppet pals or it's using the green screen to produce a film to promote something that they've been studying or investigating.

A good thing about the variety of devices is that the children learn to choose the device that suits the purpose.

Tara Taylor-Jorgensen: E-learning and information literacy and library stuff is all integrated throughout everything we do, so we don't have library time and we don't have a computer suite we suddenly say to the kids it's time to go to the library because anytime can be the time to go to the library.

Carolyn Knight: Well the library's open before school from half past eight until half past three and they can come into this big school living room if you like with book shelves and comfortable seats to sit on and just enjoy some space.

For issues and returns and any of those transactions the computer is just on a small desk with an RFID pad next to it and the children all self issue and return and that's really all that's necessary; a small desk with a computer on it essentially.

Lisa Bengtsson: They come over, they self issue they get their own books they put their own books away and it just means that we don't have to put time limits on what they are doing.

We don't have to control what they are doing they can just be relaxed and enjoy the library for what it is.

Carolyn Knight: It gives them ownership of what they're doing and not just of the library but of the school and whole and ownership of their learning.

I act as a teacher not only in the library but I'll take groups of students for writing or reading or inquiry in any parts of the school.

Lisa Bengtsson: We use Caroline our library-based teacher to support our inquiry learning and to support our literacy learning so she brings an extra expertise sometimes that's in the hub, sometimes that's in the library here just depends on the situation so it's a flexible fluid part of our school.

Carolyn Knight: This is the third space where everybody meets together the adults and the
children it could be just for relaxing it could be for learning, it's learning for life.

It's learning about the role of libraries in the future for them as well, not just at school.