Category: Libraries

Nethermains Primary School – Library Refurbishment

Last year we were contacted by Mrs Firth from Nethermains Primary School in Denny to give advice on book-banding their reading schemes. A Teams meeting and one visit to the school later and the school had signed-up for the Scottish Book Trust’s Reading Schools programme and wanted to create a school library. It’s amazing what can happen when like-minded people get together!

At this point there was no library – it had been disbanded as the space was needed for classes – a common problem for primary schools. However, I could tell Mrs Firth was determined and later last year she got in touch to say she had made space for the library and could we help.

It’s a wonderful shared space in the infant area that she felt wasn’t being utilised as well as it could be. She had already found some of the original library shelving and, luckily, the school had kept the books too. When we arrived to help a lot of the hard work had already been done but we used our expertise to get all the non-fiction sorted out, weeded and into Dewey order. We were able to provide support and advice on what was required next as well as practical help like giving them lots of new, up-to-date non-fiction.

We also used our connections at other schools to get them more shelving. This is a wonderful example of a school creating a vibrant library and reading culture without spending a fortune on fixtures and fittings. They have used what they had and what they could get for free and a handy janitor to put it all together. Where they have spent money, and this is what we advise all schools to focus on first, is on new books.

It’s important to get the pupils involved when you are getting new books and they invited me to go around each class with a box of new and exciting books to show pupils the different books we could get for their library. I took a wide variety of comics/graphic novels, picture books, non-fiction, dyslexia friendly, exciting and diverse authors and talked to the pupils about what they liked. There was something for everyone, including reluctant readers, and I came away armed with lists of titles, authors, genres and interests. It was a wonderful day of interacting with pupils who were enthusiastic, welcoming and kind and it helped to build a buzz about the library. I used these lists and my own knowledge to buy books for each class that will go into the library.

Each class also did some research online and voted for 3 particular books they wanted. This was a great way to get the children involved, for them to discover more books, increase their knowledge and ownership of the library.

When the new books arrived I had the pleasure of going back to each class to deliver the books and they were delighted to see what they asked for, as well as some surprises I bought based on their feedback.

While all this was going on, Mrs Firth and other staff were busy getting the library ready. Labelling, signage, displays etc. – all the hard work that it takes to build a library and make it the heart of the reading culture.

The library is ready and will have a grand opening tomorrow where parents can come and visit. I haven’t seen the finished project yet and I can’t wait.

BorrowBox Stats Through the Roof!

Staff and pupils in Falkirk Council have had automatic access to 1000s of eBooks and eAudiobooks through their Glow account since 2018. We provide this service for every school for free and as pupils/staff already have a Glow log-in there are no barriers to joining the library, just download the app and read or listen. It complements our physical collections and we wanted pupils to have access to a wide-range of audiobooks (CDs were on the way out!). Reading books on a device also offers lots of accessibility options like font-size, spacing, dictionary, colour of background etc. and can be used with Immersive Reader.

We started with a small collection and built it up over the years – new content gets added every month and we regularly give the collections an extra boost. The library has always been well-used but lockdowns and the roll-out of Falkirk Connected iPads has seen our numbers of active users and loans soar! Originally content was only for early years and primary, as that is who we provide our service to, but when lockdown struck we started to add teenage content to support our high schools.

From April 2021 to March 2022 we loaned:

17256 Eaudiobooks

23161 Ebooks

It’s makes our librarian hearts sing to see so many children using the service we provide and reading all these books. However, it’s not without challenges, we can have long waiting lists for popular books no matter how many copies we buy. We also need to keep building our teenage content as the service is quickly growing in popularity with older pupils.

School Library Development: Sacred Heart Primary School Case Study 2

The new furniture has arrived and we created a story corner and senior comfy reading area for pupils to relax and enjoy their new books. Pupil Voice is central to Sacred Heart’s ethos and we consulted with pupils on how they would like their library to look. They asked for a nature theme, so we have an artificial grass story rug and nature-themed beanbags etc. A reading den was a popular request so we have an easily moved pop-up den in the story corner.


The picture books are all in front-facing browsers making them more accessible and inviting. The school used old ipad boxes to create fantastic displays on the walls.

The library looks amazing but the main difference is the wide-range of new books to appeal to every child. Pupils were consulted for their favourite authors, genres and interests but we also ensure that there are books for reluctant readers, dyslexic or struggling readers, comics/graphic novels, picture books for older pupils, diverse/inclusive books, wordless books and books in school community languages.

In many ways the easy part of the refurbishment is complete – we just have a few finishing touches to add. The most important part of a library refurbishment now begins: getting the most from your new library! How will the library be used? Who will look after the library? How can we make the library central to the school’s reading culture? What’s in the new library?

LRS will work closely with pupils over the coming weeks and help them explore all the exciting new books. Working with small groups of pupils we will find out their interests and direct them to new and diverse reading adventures.

Reading Schools Accreditation

In 2019–20, Falkirk Council piloted the Reading Schools accreditation programme as part of a FVWL RIC initiative. Evaluation showed clear evidence of impact on learners, learning professionals and schools as a whole.

  • 80% agreed that taking part in Reading Schools helped their school to support learners who are not enthusiastic readers
  • 85% agreed that taking part in Reading Schools helped learners to develop a love of reading
  • 70% agreed that taking part in Reading Schools supported learners’ attainment
  • 80% agreed that taking part in Reading Schools supported learners’ health and wellbeing

Based on the positive evidence of impact, the programme has been extended to all of Scotland’s schools.

Are you committed to building a culture of reading for your learners and communities? Research proves that reading for pleasure has positive impacts on learners’ attainment across the curriculum, supporting wellbeing, critical thinking, creativity, empathy and resilience.

Visit the website to find how to apply for accreditation and to find a range of very helpful advice and examples from schools who have gone through the accreditation process.


The Reading Schools team have arranged for a drop in session on Teams to give staff in Falkirk Council an opportunity to ask for any help or advice on the Reading Schools accreditation application. The team will also offer suggestions for best practice, tips for gathering and submitting evidence and general support for schools working towards becoming a Reading School.

The details of this session are:

Thursday 10 February 2022

Sign up here


School Library Development: Sacred Heart Primary School Case Study

One of our main roles in supporting our primary schools is to help them develop and refurbish their school libraries. We tailor our support according to the needs of each school and the remit they provide. It can range from advice, purchasing new books, reorganisation, library cataloguing systems and full library refurbishments.

At the moment we are working with nine schools across the authority to improve their school library, all with different needs and budgets.

Sacred Heart Primary School are undertaking a complete refurbishment of their library. Pupil librarians have been heavily involved with the decision making and priority is given to pupil voice so that the pupils all have input into the new library. What they wanted is what most pupils want when they are asked about their school library – more and better books and somewhere comfortable to read them!

As you can see from the pictures we have a lot of work to do. As with all our library development work, we have a very close partnership with the SLT, staff, pupils and often parents, as it takes a community to build a library.

The room has been painted and given a new carpet, so we have a blank canvass to work with and imprint the school’s vision. Some of the old shelving is being reused, as it is still in good condition, which means we can focus on adding new areas: a digital area/makerspace, a comfy story corner with rug, browsing boxes for picture books and beanbags, a more grownup reading area for the older pupils with sofas and an ASC zone with a range of different non-book resources to support children with specific needs.

The old books have been ruthlessly weeded by the pupils and only the best quality retained for the new library. We have purchased a range of new, diverse and inclusive books in consultation with the pupils – popular authors like Jeff Kinney, Liz Pichon, Julia Donaldson, David Walliams etc., books in school community languages, comics and graphic novels, picture books for older pupils, wordless books, fact books, hobbies/interests and dyslexia friendly books. We also use our expertise to ensure there is a range of books to suit every level of reader, that the selection is diverse and inclusive and includes quality, modern books that the pupils have yet to discover.

We are currently waiting on delivery of the new furniture and more books, but we gave the pupils a sneak peak at the new books during Book Week Scotland and the excitement to get reading was palpable! The pupils were asked what reading means to them and the feedback will be used to create special artwork on the library walls.

A lot of work still to do but watch this space to see the finished library.