In the news - Lucy Bakewell

24th December 2010 at 00:00

Lucy Bakewell, 39, won the School Library Association's librarian of the year award last year. This year she published a book, Off the Shelf, containing hints and tips for fellow librarians on how to run a successful school library. She started as a teaching assistant at Hill West Primary School in Sutton Coldfield 10 years ago. The TES caught up with her to see how she keeps her shelves empty.

What is your literary secret?

"My primary school wanted to make a space children wanted to come to. I think the judges saw that. It's a very fun, very vibrant place. I try to make it inspirational. I use a lot of accessories in displays and along the shelves, which you are more likely to find in a child's bedroom than in a library."

Is it true boys and books just don't go?

"I do a special session for boys in the library to get them into reading. I have a 10-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter and getting her into reading was easy. I find boys need guidance; you need to sit with them and find out what they want. They don't like too many words on a page, they don't like many pages in a chapter and they like big pictures. I take them somewhere special to do reading, because if they are taken out of the classroom they find it more exciting and more fun to do."

Where is this special place?

"It's the school library. A few years ago we moved the library into a bigger space; we took out the ICT suite and put the library suite in. I'm sure it raised a few eyebrows from other schools in our area, as they were moving towards ICT suites and the internet. The options are there: children can embrace the old and the new, and they use both the books and the internet. The head is a huge advocate of reading; thank goodness I have someone supporting me."

Were you a young bookworm?

"I didn't read my first book until I was 11-years-old. I used to be a tomboy; I was into sci-fi and Dr Who books. I find there are lots of girls like that. We are very lucky nowadays because there is an enormous amount of children's books to choose from. Once you have got the kids reading it's a lot easier. Every year I have six Year 6 librarians who are responsible for the library. This year I had 40 applications, and most of them were boys."

Whose books are bouncing off the shelves?

"Roald Dahl is still among the children's favourites. Jeff Kinney, Philip Pullman and Derek Landy are also high in the top 10 list in our library. The Roald Dahls and Jeremy Strongs are always off the shelf."

Are you hot on their heels with your book?

"My book is for school librarians. It takes you through the basics of setting up and designing a library, organising events, displays and lessons. It gives you cheap versions, medium versions and expensive versions of displays, to cater for every school's budget. There are lesson plans, resources and plenty of things that can be photocopied. When I started out I had no idea how to run a library, so I started from scratch. This is just the sort of book I desperately tried to find back then."

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