Kristabelle Williams of Addey & Stanhope School, a voluntary aided state secondary in inner South East London, has been awarded the honour of School Librarian of the Year 2020/21 by the School Library Association (SLA).
The learning resource centre manager of Addey & Stanhope, Kristabelle received the award at the SLA's weekend course on Leading School Libraries today (11th June) after being announced as one of five librarians on the SLA's 2020/21 Honour List last year. The final stage of the judging, in which a panel of experienced school librarians visit all the candidates in their workplaces, was delayed until earlier this year due to the pandemic.
Kristabelle impressed the panel with her "unremitting and consistent focus on ensuring the best futures for her students, making reading, researching and library use the norm".
The judges' award citation on the SLA website added: "Kristabelle has been instrumental in celebrating how reading for pleasure and mental health/wellbeing are intertwined, never stopping adapting and innovating to engage and encourage students."
A Manga Club, book "tasting menus" and Books Up (a mash-up of the games Taboo and Heads Up) are just a few of the strategies Kristabelle has invented to build a thriving reading culture. She is the only member of staff in the LRC at Addey & Stanhope, a 300-year-old coeducational school for Years 7 to 11 in Deptford, London Borough of Lewisham.
The library service not only survived but thrived during the pandemic as Kristabelle included books in lockdown care packages for families, delivered weekly live lessons remotely and supported students in all year groups with remote learning and reading. She used BookTrust's Bookbuzz programme and the Free Books Campaign to encourage book ownership. She said in a recent article for Books for Keeps magazine: "Whether young people read or not is often due to cost, access and content... in a pandemic where the public faces further unemployment and child poverty crises, book gifting has, is and will continue to be, an important part of what our school does."
The award citation noted how Kristabelle used her experience of the pandemic to implement positive changes when school reopened, for example by retaining a click-and-collect loan system and continuing remote community building. "Book deliveries to form rooms have created valuable opportunities for tutors to engage with and encourage their students’ reading, and use of Show My Homework to set weekly reading tasks, quizzes and book discussion has enabled Kristabelle to build rapport with some students she wouldn’t normally be able to reach."
The other outstanding librarians on the SLA’s 2020/21 Honour List are:
Claire Marris, Library Manager at Toot Hill School, an 11 to 18 secondary in Bingham, Nottinghamshire.
Terri McCargar, Head Librarian at Latymer Upper School, a co-educational independent day school in West London.
Rose Palmer, former Reading Advocate at The Oaks Primary School, Ipswich.
Éadaoin Quinn, school librarian at Enniscorthy Vocational College, Co Wexford, one of 30 school libraries in the Republic of Ireland that receive extra funding to combat educational disadvantage.
Nominations for the SLA's School Librarian of the Year Award 2022 are now open. For the first time, this year will see the award split into two categories: Primary, sponsored by Authors Abroad, and Secondary.
The SLA is also delighted to announce the launch of two brand new awards: the Enterprise of the Year Award and the Community Award. The Enterprise of the Year Award will celebrate one-off or progressive school library projects which develop literacy, community and independence in children. The Community Award, sponsored by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, recognises community effort by celebrating the high-quality working partnerships that exist in so many schools across the country. It will be open to external teams, local businesses and even individuals who have gone 'above and beyond' to support a school library.