Friday, June 29, 2007

Librarians gather at SLA Weekend Conference

Librarians gather at SLA Weekend Conference – University of Nottingham 22nd – 24th June 2007.

After a long journey, which included flooding, and thunderstorms I finally arrived at Nottingham – funny thing is I only travelled from Lancashire yet had encountered torrential rain and frightening flooding. Having booked in and seen my accommodation I set off to meet the other 300 plus librarians that had all gathered in the University of Nottingham for this very special weekend conference.

The SLA weekend training course is hugely popular. Held in June at a different location each year, the course has become an essential element of professional development for many school librarians. For me this was my very first SLA weekend for years I had wanted to attend and now all of a sudden I was here!

This very special weekend conference explored the future of school libraries, learning and education. It also celebrated the SLA's 70th birthday along with Orchard and OUP’s birthdays so needless to say it was cake, cake, cake! The conference was packed with workshops, author talks, stands, exhibitions and of course cake. We were delighted to listen to Gervase Phinn (author, SLA president and also HMI) after our evening meal on the Friday evening: he humoured us so much that we were in stitches with laughter. We also listened to Anthony Bravo from Crossways Academy in London. Anthony boasted of his new academy and he delighted us with his examination results. Phil Bradley spoke to us about Web 2 and VLEs – the technology is out there, we just need to be aware of it. Stephen Elboz chatted away to us about his work and what inspired him to write. A kind gentle man who touched our hearts with his words and wisdom.

You might be thinking by now that we had a busy weekend but it didn’t stop there: Julie Bertagna, Aidan Chambers, Tanya Landman, Michael Lawrence, Sue Palmer, Guy Parker-Rees, Bail Rai, Marcus Sedgwick and Ceri Worman all chatted to the group and all ate cake!

I can’t boast enough about this weekend and what I have gained from it. Meeting such wonderful people really did give me the push I needed to recharge and be inspired. Networking with other school librarians also helped me so much to think about my role and to give me that extra zest in my work place.

Some of the workshops that I attended included Manga and Graphic novels which was delivered by Dr. Meg Gibson. I also attended the ‘Lead and be Led’ workshop run by Geoff Dubber. MLS Eclipse gave a brilliant demo about their new .net package for libraries. There is really too much to write about and all I can say is that the SLA provided a fantastic weekend for us all.

Laughing by day with other librarians and laughing my night with Gervase Phinn gave the conference a special feel and left us all with a lasting impression and a hunger for next years conference: Glasgow 2008. I still can’t believe I have attended this conference: a craving I have had for many years. It is something that will stay with me for a long, long time.

I would like to say a big thank you to the SLA and all the people that helped to make the conference a massive success. I would also like to say thank you to my employer for allowing me the opportunity to attend and develop in my role as school librarian.

A truly remarkable weekend!

Valerie Dewhurst BA (Hons) School Librarian
Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Blackburn
Lancashire Branch Secretary (School Library Association)

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