Thanks for doing a brilliant job

17th March 2006 at 00:00
A burst fire hydrant flooded the library at Birkdale high school in Dewsbury, Kirklees, last month to the dismay of pupils and teachers alike.

Fortunately, it happened on a weekday at lunchtime so there were lots of willing hands to help rescue the books.

The library is now camped in the school's conference room with some books displayed again on shelves. Everyone's hoping that things will get back to normal soon and fans of the librarian, Karen Jones, think that making her a Friday hero will give a boost after all the upheaval. Teresa Butler, an assistant head, says Karen has "changed the face of the library" since she was appointed four years ago. It has become a place where students find a natural home to study, ask questions and think. "Karen is quietly conscientious but she is also proactive."

Formerly Karen worked as a medical librarian in Huddersfield and, according to Miss Butler, tells fascinating stories of the days when she catalogued "bones not books". Geoff Holden, a former teacher at Birkdale who nominated Karen for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, says this is a librarian with a strong teaching streak. "Her library lessons for Years 7 and 8 engage the pupils and get them wanting to read and borrow books. Her class control is superb."

Before the flood the library was full every lunchtime, "not just with children reading or using the computers but playing Scrabble or doing their homework. Children from Years 7 to 11 work together, are friends and make up the committee that helps run the library."

As well as being a sanctuary and a haven for some, the library encourages discussion and debate about subjects ranging from free will to the politics of war. The Friday Debate is a weekly session when up to 40 students have a formal discussion with a subject proposed and seconded. Guest speakers, including teachers, are sometimes invited to talk. Members of the group have made a video and travelled to other schools to share their debating skills. All life is in the library; let's hope those sodden carpets dry out soon.

Heroes are out there, but we need you to reveal them in all their glory.

Think of the person in your school - teacher, classroom assistant, governor, cook - who always goes the extra mile. Then tell us about them in a letter or email to Sarah Bayliss at the address above left. Go on, they deserve recognition. (Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer)

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