Burford School – the home of good reading

Burford libraryawvWith libraries closing, or losing trained librarians, one might be tempted to think it is for a good reason. E-books and mobile phones have been on the rise, sounding the death knell for traditional print newspapers, while everyone – old and young – seems more addicted to their mobile phones than ever.
Should this mean the end of the school library, too?
At Burford School, we don’t think so. Why lament the rise of technology and its impact on young readers, when we can embrace it and use it to our advantage?
We are already using technology to impact reading habits in a variety of ways. We recently decided to reach out to our digital natives by offering e-books and audiobooks via Overdrive—an easy-to-use platform that allows access not just to our collection but also to that of the local county libraries. With features that paper books don not have, including changing fonts to make text easier to untangle for dyslexic readers, it is an approach to reading that makes books more accessible to everyone. Audiobooks provide an opportunity for the busy child to listen while completing projects that do not require full mental attention and can also help struggling readers as a ‘read-along buddy’ helping to improve word recognition and confidence.
Of course, not everything has to be computerized, and adults are not the only ones who sometimes prefer the feel of a real book. Paper book sales are up, and our library loan rates have skyrocketed. Children’s books in particular are booming, and along with the enduring success of the Harry Potter series, newer, popular titles such as Robin Steven’s Murder Most Unladylike series, Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, and the ongoing James Bond and Young James Bond series by Anthony Horowitz and Stephen Cole are winning fans and turning young people into young readers. It is, after all, about quality, and children’s and young adult fiction is proving fertile ground for some of the best fiction in Britain today. We would encourage all adults to sample the titles on this year’s Carnegie Book Awards list and come away feeling both challenged and charmed.
So, with the right levels of adaptability and innovation, as well as enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff to recommend the right book to the right pupil, we would argue that not only is there still a place for the school library, but that it is more important than ever. In a world that can sometimes value style over substance, or where the truth can be hidden beneath the headlines, everyone needs a space just to breathe, to feel safe, to crack open a good book and even come face to face with a real, live author!

Ashley Count, Assistant Librarian
www.burford.oxon.sch.uk

August – September 2017