Today I was delighted to be invited by Kim Yeomans to visit her library at St Martin of Tours Primary School. Kim is a super teacher librarian with a massive heart who brings the library to life with the help of a library technician who comes once a week – although if you stepped into the library and looked around at the evidence of the wonderful things that take place there you would think that it was staffed by many more people.
As a secondary school teacher librarian, I appreciate stepping into a primary school library because it reminds me of all the hard work that occurs before students start secondary school. What I saw today was a beautiful space lovingly and thoughtfully created and recreated regularly for the pleasure of children who come to immerse themselves in the worlds of books and reading.
Kim’s library walls are creative, visual displays of the worlds that prep-grade 6 children step into when they read and create. It’s a warm, enticing and stimulating communal space with nooks here and there, soft seating and areas with tables and chairs inviting children to gather in small groups or as a class. Oversized 3 dimensional book characters, some created by children and parents, are reminders of worlds that come to life through reading and shared activities.
This is a world in which you want to linger, snuggle into a beanbag or sunny corner with a view of trees, escape the mundane and make time stand still. The colourful reading chair seems to be shifting impatiently, ready for a story with an eager audience. What better environment than this to introduce a love of reading, fantasy, ideas and creative possibilities? What better place than this to grow literacies without the pain of prescribed lessons? Where would you find community as happily as in these walls?
Who would be mad enough to envisage a primary school without the library, without the teacher librarian whose role description and daily roster would intimidate the most hard working leading teacher? And yet there are schools who forget this – perhaps in the busyness of day to day routines or in the name of change and technologies – how absolutely precious and indispensable all primary school libraries are, just as they continue to be in secondary school and higher education.
Thank you, Kim, for inviting me into your gorgeous library and chatting to me about all the wonderful things you make happen for the children you love so much. You can read more about what happens in this library by reading the St Martin of Tours library blog.