Guest Post: A new lease of life in the school library
By Chris Jarosh
Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Blackburn first implemented Renaissance Accelerated Reader 4 years ago. Valerie Dewhurst, Head of Library at QEGS who delivers the programme, describes the impact Accelerated Reader has had on in-school reading and library use, while facilitating discussion across Lancashire.
Accelerated Reader has brought a new lease of life to our fiction stock: we now see a colossal amount of books being issued each day – our book loans have tripled! Books which have previously sat unloved on the shelves are now being read, and most importantly are being enjoyed. Books are being touched, moved on the shelves, with blurbs being read and scrutinised – and all of this is down to Accelerated Reader.
The programme was easily embedded into school life – it was a success even from the first month and very easily accepted by our students. Additionally it allowed us the scope to make the library even more interesting, inviting… and of course lively, with a range of termly competitions, awards and prizes. It’s a new lease of life in the school library.
The reading programme has also given the school library an opportunity to develop a much stronger link with the English Department, who fully support the introduction of the programme. Working closely with the department ensures that the programme grows in strength day by day. I continue to raise awareness in school; Accelerated Reader is a whole school resource, it benefits all students in all subjects – literacy is across the curriculum.
Due to the success of Accelerated Reader and the need to share good practice, I decided to put together a User Group for all local librarians also using the programme. The initiative took off and we now have a regular number attending meet ups each term. We always have an agenda, share success, problems and good practice. We also invite speakers in, including popular book suppliers, with a recent visit from Bright Books who are also based in Lancashire. We also hold a book swap each time we meet up, where everyone gets a chance to swap their used books for any books needed. The user group has been so successful that it is now under the ‘umbrella’ of our Lancashire branch of the School Library Association – where I was nominated as Accelerated Reader Facilitator for the branch, recently stepping down as Branch Secretary after serving for 15 years. The role has given the user group much more meaning and importance – which can only be a good thing.
Implementing Accelerated Reader into our school has been a positive move in many ways: the excitement shown by students when becoming Reading Millionaires and termly Star readers, the passion for more and more books, students recommending new book stock for the library and also recommending good reading material to their peers – all these positive moves are thanks to Accelerated Reader.