School Library Association
School Library Association
1 Pine Court, Kembrey Park
Swindon, SN2 8AD
Tel: 01793 530166 - Fax: 01793 481182
My three-year term of office as Hon. President of the School Library
Association came to an end at our annual Weekend Course, which was held at
Bath University. I was succeeded by Gervase Phinn, who I hope will enjoy his
time as President as much as I enjoyed mine. I'll continue to work for the SLA
in whatever ways I can. Nothing in schools and colleges is more important than
the library and no one is more important than the librarian. In too many
schools neither receives the support they need. The SLA is the only
organisation in Britain entirely devoted to helping school librarians, whatever
their status and in whatever kind of educational institution they work.
I took on the job because I believe a well-stocked, well-equipped and
well-run library should be at the heart of every school, and I know
from experience how valuable the SLA is to school librarians.
My links with the SLA go back to 1961 when I was appointed a
teacher of English and the school librarian at Archway School,
Stroud, Gloucestershire, when it opened in a new building. I was
shown an empty room lined with shelves and told to 'fill it with books
and help to turn our pupils into keen readers'. I'd had no training as
a librarian and knew almost nothing about children's books.(This story is
still all too common - a situation the SLA works hard to put right.)
I was saved from professional calamity by the county's Schools
Services Librarian and by the members of the local branch of the School
Library Association, who gave me support, a crash course in librarianship,
and generally speaking made it possible for me to learn on the job
without causing irreparable damage. It was at local SLA meetings that I
gave my first public talks, and it was as a result of my work at Archway
and with the SLA that I could write my first book for teachers and
librarians, The Reluctant Reader (Pergamon Press, 1969, now long out of
print). Naturally, I have a strong sentimental and professional attachment
to the SLA, and am proud that I was invited to be its President.
These days every organisation must publish its 'mission statement'.
The aims of the SLA are as simple as they are ambitious:
'The School Library Association supports all those committed to the
promotion and development of school libraries and information literacy.
For over 65 years the SLA has:
* supported and encouraged those working in school libraries
* campaigned to ensure appropriate provision for school libraries and
school library services
* provided a significant voice to focus attention at regional and national
No surprise that in my opinion every school - infant, primary and
secondary - and every teacher-training institution should belong to the
SLA. But so should those who benefit from the work of librarians -
children's and educational publishers, writers for the young, teacher-
and librarian-training institutions - everyone in fact who depends on or
has to do with the reading lives of children and students.
These days, with so little comprehensive and professionally informed
reviewing of children's and youth books and electronic materials
available, compared with what used be offered, The School Librarian
is indispensable to librarians and teachers.

All contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise stated.






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