I love school libraries

Think of a Philippines in which children love to read...

I've got an interview coming out soon on the Sambat Trust blog. The Sambat Trust flagged it up yesterday with this video.

I played the video and rather too slowly realised that it was one I made last year after the School Librarian of the Year was announced. How funny that I'd forgotten!

In the video, there are images of hardworking Filipino school librarian Zarah Gagatiga. She makes her daily bread by working as a school librarian and consultant and then in her free time, she travels all over the place, building school libraries in schools that would otherwise not manage to afford it. She does this as library consultant of the Sambat Trust, an organisation dedicated to partnering with schools to create school libraries in some of the most deprived places outside Manila.

I was thinking of Zarah, the libraries built by the Sambat Trust and the children who use them, as I made the rounds last week for World Book Day/Week. I visited King Alfred School in North London, Copthall School in Mill Hill, and Ashcroft Technical Academy in East Putney.

Signing books at lovely Copthall School. Photo: Jackie Rice
At every school I visited, I was struck by the role of the school library as a haven - at lunch time, children rushed to the library to relax, read, listen to music, chat. In every school I visited, I watched children approaching the librarian for advice on books they were reading.

At one point, I found myself trying to discourage some children too young to read Shine from buying the book but they were determined. The librarian in a very relaxed way said, 'Well done for wanting to read it, if you find it to hard just set it aside, you'll definitely be able to read it in a year!'

It reminded me of my own school librarian when I was in primary school in the Philippines, she just let me go for it. And if I found I couldn't get through a book, it was oh-well-just-try-again-next-year. And I did. And she was right.

I'm so lucky I get to spend time in school libraries though I've long left school. Thank you to the lovely librarians Jackie Rice of Copthall, Susan Morgan-Jones of Ashton (she's a former journalist and photographer!) and Cathy Brown of King Alfred for inviting me to come.

I love it that librarians always make a little display about me when I visit. Here's a Flickr album of photos you can use for a display if you ever invite me to your school!

Read my previous posts:

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