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Primaries left on the shelf

Nancy Anstee is slightly puzzled that she is the the only librarian in Bristol's primary schools.

For the past three years she has run the library at Waycroft primary and last week she was named one of five School Librarians of the Year by the School Library Association. But Ms Anstee, 45, can't understand why more primaries do not employ librarians. She said: "It would benefit children to have a librarian in every primary.

"When I worked in a secondary, some children didn't know how to use a library. It's a lifelong skill. Like all education, the earlier you start, the better."

And she believes that it is never too early to teach even the notoriously complex Dewey library filing system, which classifies books according to an intricate numerical code.

"We have teddy bears dressed up in professional outfits: doctors, conductors and huntsmen," she said. "Then the children go to find a book that each teddy bear would like, and read the book to the teddy. You have to tap into children's imagination. And I think I'm the biggest kid there."

She also ran a Euro 2004 football quiz in the library to try to counteract its geeky image. And she has hosted a series of authors and illustrators. These include Michael Morpurgo, the former children's laureate, and Nick Sharratt, illustrator of the best-selling Jacqueline Wilson novels.

"It's important for children to realise that authors and illustrators are real people," Ms Anstee said. "It's something for them to aspire to."

The School Library Association created its Librarian of the Year award in 2004, to recognise outstanding work. The nominations were announced at the London Book Fair on Monday.

The other nominees are Debbie Carr, from Willows high, Cardiff, Jayne Gould, from Broke Hall primary, Suffolk, Katie McGivern, from St Patrick's high, north Lanarkshire, and Anne-Marie Tartar, from Ripon grammar, north Yorkshire.

The winner will be announced on April 27, and the award will be presented by Jacqueline Wilson, the children's laureate.

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