#20 Displays


Displays can make a huge difference to your library. There are many potential reasons for setting them up:

  • Promote new stock.
  • Promote clubs and societies.
  • Promote pupil achievements.
  • Promote school events.
  • Display photographs from trips and special days.
  • For fun.

Try and get your materials for free.

You can often get bookmarks, posters and display items from your local bookshop. Write to the publisher.

Speak to teachers; can they supply materials they would like displayed?

Ask pupils and parents to lend or donate items.

An attractive display will always attract new faces into the library, as well as entertaining your core clients.

A typical display might consist of large colour posters related to the books on display, with bookmarks, badges, keyrings or similar on offer for pupils to take away.

Do not leave displays up for too long! They lose their impact after a short period of time, ands should be withdrawn at a preset time, or even sooner if they become tatty and worn.

Some nice ideas here.


#19 Dummy Guides

Dummy Guides

There are many guides and manuals on the market which describe themselves as ‘dummy’ guides, or guides for the uninitiated.

These types of guides are invaluable in libraries. You should create them for as many processes and topics as you can find time for, from such things as borrowing a book, through logging on to the school network, to creating a web page.

For ‘dummy’, I would actually substitute the word ‘clear’. This is really the point of these guides; clarity.

Rules for construction of these guides could be summarised as follows:

  • Use clear, non-technical language.
  • Use lots of relevant illustrations and graphics.
  • Construct the guide in a step-by-step format.
  • Illustrate each step.
  • Use arrows and text boxes to illustrate points further, if necessary.

These guides are time consuming to create, but the outcomes can be very satisfying for the librarian, the pupil and the teacher, and are worth the time invested.

See other tips: Google, Blogger, deli.cio.us for some practical examples.

#18 Chess


Chess can sometimes be regarded as ‘old fashioned’ by pupils and staff alike, but I have always found it to be a powerful and useful social tool to encourage friendly competition, improved social skills and interaction between pupil categories that would not usually meet.

Chess can help pupils with the following:

  • Problem solving.
  • Social interaction.
  • Self discipline.
  • Tackling curricular work.
  • Consideration for others.
  • Encouraging and controlling competitive instincts.


As with other clubs, it is essential that activities are undertaken in an exclusively allocated space. Equipment and extra materials should be laid out in advance if at all possible. Pupils may be given special incentives (such as permission to eat and drink in the library) if the activities take place at lunch time.

Chess is often a magnet for pupils with behavioural difficulties. They tend to behave completely differently in front of a chess board than they do at other times. This is a phenomenon that has been commented on by teachers, senior management and support staff.

Specialist chess equipment is available at very reasonable prices for club quantities, and funding can often be obtained from ‘curriculum support’ budgets.


The English Chess Federation produce a lovely booklet which contains a good introduction to the subject:


#17 RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds are easy to set up and can be of use to pupils, academic staff and librarians.

RSS (or Really Simple Synication) is an easy way of cherry picking from the flood of information available on the web. Instead of going looking for information on a daily basis (or ignoring it altogether), you can pick the sources that you trust and find interesting, and arrange for the information to come to you.

This is vastly superior to reacting to emails that come at you every minute of the day and interfere with your daily routine.

With an RSS feed, after you have set them up, you choose the time of day when you choose to review and read items as appropriate.

RSS Feed Guide

#16 Deli.cio.us for subject guides

Del.icio.us for Subject Guides

del.icio.us can be much more than a list of websites. You can create a new account for each subject or topic, or create bundled topics within one account. You are only limited by the amount of tags you could create before your page became unmanageable.

With a bit of imagination and skill, you can use the tags to create bundled weblinks for many topics on one page. As keywording (or tagging) should be second nature to any librarian, this should be a relatively easy job, but which should be of immense value to teachers and pupils.

See http://del.icio.us/VikingLinks which has links to various aspects of Viking life, and a sub-bundle of tags relating to the Home Front (UK, World War 2).

#15 Linking The Web

World Wide Web

Linking to web information from a school website sounds like a very simple concept, and indeed it is. It is also a hugely powerful way of interacting with teaching staff, and producing an end product that will be of immense use to teaching staff and pupils.

If your school already has a school website, chances are that the library has a page describing opening hours, services etc. It should be an easy matter to persuade the school and the webmaster to allow you to expand that area, particularly if you can demonstrate it will be of practical curricular use across the school.

Updating and adding links to web pages is a very easy process, particularly if your school has a content management system setup, whereby you login and are ready to start typing. Once you hit ‘publish’ (or refer to webmaster), you’re done. Speak to your webmaster to see how your website is updated.

Planning is essential with this kind of project. Questions to ask:

  • Is the topic suitable for web based information?
  • Who will I target first?
  • What are the topics, and the components within it?
  • Do I have enough specific information to find relevant information?
  • When will I do the searching, where will the time come from?
  • Do I have a reliable system for storing websites I find?
  • Has someone covered it already, do I need to do more?


It is advisable to discuss the project in detail with one or two members of staff before you begin. There are some issues you need to be aware of with this kind of work:

  • Ensure that roles and responsibilities are clarified at the outset
  • Make clear the amount of work required to create a link bank; it can be considerable
  • Try to get a guarantee that the weblinks will be used by staff and pupils to support the curriculum
  • Ensure you have enough information about the topic to do the searching
  • Document the project, and get feedback at the end of the first cycle, to try and improve the service for the next cycle

Topic related weblinks can be a boon to teaching staff and to pupils. They can be particularly useful to those who struggle to find information for themselves, and to advanced pupils who may want to explore further and deeper into the topic. For this reason, you should ensure that links are differentiated; from simple, picture based sites, through to more advanced, text based sites.


Useful Weblinks:

Teachernet: School Websites



Thousands of Free Weblinks for Topics in the Scottish 3-18 Curriculum.


Learning & Teaching Scotland Resources


#14 Images And Video

Photos & Video

Most people own, or have access to, digital cameras and camcorders.

Filming and photographing pupils when they take part in sporting, social or library activities is a great way to get to know pupils better, have some fun with them , and keep a record for your newsletter or Intranet.

Please be aware that parents’ permission is required and that there will probably be a database somewhere in your school that gives details of who can and cannot be photographed. This site gives some useful guidance about the use of photographs and videos in schools.