At St John’s we believe that reading is a vital skill for every child and we wish to promote a love of reading and gathering knowledge in all our children.

For these reasons our school library is seen as being central to all learning within the school and somewhere where children are exposed to a wide range of all resources to help them not only access fiction books and fun reads but also non-fiction resources to help with school topics and homework. We also believe in promoting library skills to children at an early age so that they gain the life skill of knowing how to access suitable information; something that they will need in secondary schools and later, if they proceed to Further or Higher Education.

After much planning and hard work our school library opened to children in June 2014. Our librarian, Mrs Garrett has brought together a large collection of library materials for the school, selecting and keeping the best resources from the old school libraries at both Kingsmead School and Diocesan and Payne Smith School as well as purchasing a large number of new items; generously helped by a grant of £5000 from the Foyle Foundation.

The school library is a large, bright room on the first floor of the school. It is a joint library and IT area; promoting the fact that online research and book research go hand-in-hand and encouraging children to look at all types of media. We have chosen colourful furniture with some great feature items for the library to make it an inviting learning environment for the children. The message that we want to give being that reading is fun!

The library holds over 8000 items; these are arranged in three main areas – non-fiction, fiction and picture books. We also have a collection of audio books and magazines. The library is open to children at lunchtimes, when they can change their library books, get help from the librarian with choosing a new book, read the magazines held in the library or use one of the colouring and activity sheets available to them. They are also timetabled to be in the library for one session a week with their class and teachers (this applies to all children from Nursery to year 6). This is another opportunity for them to change their books but also to conduct research for their class topics. The library is also available to parents and younger siblings one afternoon per week at the end of the school day.

The library is laid out in a traditional manner with all non-fiction being arranged by the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme and the fiction in alphabetical order of author. This is the same layout as will be found in public libraries, secondary school libraries and academic libraries. By getting the children used to this at an early age they are learning transferrable skills that will be useful to them throughout their lives.

Details of all the library materials are kept on a computerised library catalogue. This is available for all children to search to help them find what they are looking for. Every item of library stock is issued with a bar code and can then be borrowed using a bar code scanner; the children can all borrow two items at a time from the library. The children all love our new library and the response to it has been very positive. They love coming to change their books and see the latest items on offer to them, as well as seeing what our school library teddy bear, John, is reading each week. He takes pride of place on our library display table looking at books relevant to this week’s library topic. He also has activity sheets that the children can complete during their time in the library.

We are very proud of our school library and believe that we have created a resource which will both encourage children to read and grow in their reading ability and research skills. This is supported by a recent report by the Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) which says that school libraries are vital in helping children develop literacy skills and a love of reading and also that every child should have access to a library within their own school.