2014 Dromkeen Librarian’s Award – Pam Saunders

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Recently our head of library, Pam Saunders, was awarded the Dromkeen Librarian’s Award which

is presented to a teacher, a teacher librarian or a children’s librarian, working within or outside the education system, in recognition of the important role played by this person in introducing young people to literature and encouraging an enjoyment and love of reading.

The award is presented to a person who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to children’s literature.

Pam’s experience in libraries and schools is broad: she has worked in a variety of settings – primary and secondary schools, public libraries and the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria. She has worked with babies in arms, with their parents, with young and older children and teenagers.

At the centre of Pam’s passion for libraries and their patrons is her love of reading.

Books are a place of pleasure and a beautiful way to de-stress. I also believe books and stories are the best way to walk in someone’s shoes.

The empathy a reader fosters from reading is invaluable; reading is much more than decoding of words.

 I asked Pam to share some of her observations of the reading culture at Melbourne High School since she took up the position of head of library at the beginning of the year.

Here at Melbourne High School many of our boys read. Science Fiction and Fantasy are continually popular and need little promotion. Many of the boys also read and enjoy the classics, and there is an expectation within the school community that reading the classics is ‘a good thing’. As the students progress into higher levels of study, reading for pleasure  can fall but we work hard to make sure they still find time to de-stress with a book, matching the right title to the right student. Somewhere in amongst all the academic rigour I hope that the joy for reading remains.

To what does she attribute her passion for reading?

I was fortunate to have become a reader on the lap of my father as he read to me. I  remember walking as a very young child to the shop to buy the new magazine Playhour and then my father reading it to me, especially the comics. This was further fostered by a dynamic school librarian, Mrs Cecilia Stubbs, who ran the library at Burnie High School in the 1970s. She encouraged students to use the library, to be involved and, best of all, she challenged my reading, pushing me to read titles which I would not have discovered myself. Titles like Black like me by John Griffin. I hope I have emulated her as a librarian.

We congratulate Pam on her prestigious award, and we are proud to have her nurture our reading culture at Melbourne High School.

The Dromkeen Medal and Dromkeen Librarian’s Award have a distinguished history of over 32 years, with previous Medal recipients including well-known children’s book illustrators and authors such as Shaun Tan, Bronwyn Bancroft, Roland Harvey, Ruth Park and Graeme Base (MHS Old Boy!) Similarly distinguished names grace the list of past winners of the Librarian’s Award.

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