Training librarians for our schools – Dr Briony Birdi

There has been talk in the professional press recently of school librarianship, and the importance of preparing future generations of librarians to work in our school libraries. There can be little doubt as to the importance of library provision in schools, but as concerns mount about the public funding for both education and libraries at large, it easy to see why this is a hot topic.

At the Information School in Sheffield (as at many other library and information departments), we are committed to providing Masters level education for both those working in school libraries and wishing to move into the field after graduating. We currently offer two Masters programmes with an emphasis on librarianship: the MA Librarianship, which is delivered here in Sheffield, and the MA Library and Information Services Management which is a distance learning programme. Both of these programmes include library services for children and young people (in school and public libraries) as elective modules.

More than 10 years ago I developed a ‘Library services for children and young people’ module, which has now become the ‘Public and youth library services’ module, and covers both public and school libraries. Many students taking this module as part of the previously mentioned degree programmes are interested in working in school libraries, and they meet and visit current practitioners from both school libraries and school library services. Also core to our Librarianship programmes are the Information Literacy modules, a key part of which focuses on models and theories of teaching and learning, enabling students to reflect on their development as teachers of information literacy – key skills for a school librarian. All students study a range of modules enabling their development as professionals, as managers, and as experts within their chosen field.

Over the years we have worked in regular partnership with school library staff, networks and professional organisations in developing teaching content and research projects, and each year a good proportion of our students complete Masters dissertations based in both primary and secondary school libraries. Topics investigated within the past 3 years have included the provision of primary school libraries, the promotion of reading in secondary school libraries, the provision of school library services for EAL pupils, the decline of professional librarianship in English state-funded secondary schools – just a few examples of the innovative work our students are undertaking.

At the Information School, we believe in the future of libraries and continue to give our students practice-informed, research-led teaching, to provide our libraries with skilled professionals who can further the library and information services field in the future – and, of course, in many ways this starts with schools.

Dr. Briony Birdi
Senior Lecturer in Librarianship, Information School, University of Sheffield

If you are interested in becoming a school librarian, why not take a look at one of our courses below?

Librarianship: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/is/pgt/courses/lib
Library and Information Services Management: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/is/pgt/courses/lism
All our programmes: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/is/pgt/courses

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