Tag: Learning Resource Service

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

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.

Learning for Sustainability Resource Boxes

We have been working with the Falkirk STEM Officers, Laura McCafferty and Barbara Hanning, to extend our range of STEM resources and develop new resources to support STEM Through Stories. This year’s COP26 in Glasgow has meant many schools are covering Learning for Sustainability and we have produced new resource boxes to support this at early, 1st and 2nd levels.

Each box has a story book with a planner developed by the STEM Officers:

Early Level

Somebody Swallowed Stanley by Sarah Roberts

Somebody Swallowed Stanley Plan





1st Level

Eco-wolf and the three pigs by Laurence Anholt

Eco Wolf and the Three Pigs






2nd Level

Song of the dolphin boy by Elizabeth Laird

The Song of the Dolphin Boy







Class sets of the books and the resource boxes are available to borrow from us.



Falkirk Council’s Learning Resource Service has added e-books and unabridged e-audio books to the resources available to borrow for pupils and school staff. This is a brilliant way to develop and maintain a love of reading especially in the current situation where schools and public libraries are closed.

We have invested in a number of campaign titles allowing simultaneous access to certain titles e.g. Holes, The Wizards of Once and The Boy Who Grew Dragons.

Also, BorrowBox has been working with J.K. Rowling and Pottermore to support the #HarryPotterAtHome initiative and we are offering unlimited loans to the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone until 30th April 2020.

There are two main ways to log in:

  1. Through an app (available for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire,)
    1. Download the BorrowBox app by Bolinda from your device’s app store
    2. Open the app, in the Library section tap and type “Falkirk Learning Resource Service” Tap on the selection.
    3. In the ID/Barcode section, enter your Glow account username
    4. In the PIN/Password box, enter your Glow password
  2. Through a browser
    1. Log into Glow at https://glow.rmunify.com with your Glow username and password
    2. Navigate to the green Bolinda BorrowBox tile
    3. Click on the tile and it will load the library
    4. If there isn’t a tile, click up in App Library at the top of the screen. Search for Bolinda Borrowbox, click on it and Add to My Launchpad. Click back on Launchpad at the top of the screen to return to the main Glow page.

Have a look at the really helpful videos available here to show how to sign in and borrow books.



RED Book Award 14


Falkirk Council’s RED (Read Enjoy Debate)  Book Award is now in its 14th year and the excellent shortlist of books is:

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis

Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw 

The shortlisted authors are invited to Falkirk to lead workshop sessions in the secondary schools and to attend the Book Award ceremony in Falkirk Town Hall. A major highlight of the Book Award process is the award ceremony in May, where pupils from each of the secondary schools in Falkirk Council screen their creative digital interpretations of the shortlisted books, meet the authors and celebrate books and reading.

Unfortunately due to Covid 19 the book award ceremony has been cancelled for this year. It is so disappointing that this decision has had to be taken, feedback from previous participants tell us that the RED Book award is one of the highlights of the school year.







RED Book Award 12


The RED Book Award is Falkirk Council’s Book Award in which each secondary school in the authority participate. RED stands for Read, Enjoy, Debate and is all about reading for enjoyment and stimulating lively debate about books. https://twitter.com/readenjoydebate?lang=en

RED Book Award students from Kenya Skype RED Book Award students from Grangemouth HS

At the time of writing this post, the award is now in its 12th year and the shortlist is:


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird

Boy X by Dan Smith

Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman



13 and 14-year-olds from English classes in Bo’ness Academy, Braes High, Denny High, Falkirk High, Graeme High, Grangemouth High, Larbert High and St. Mungo’s High as well as reading groups in Polmont Young Offenders Institute and from a variety of countries take part. This year schools in Kenya, South Africa and The Netherlands are participating.

The young people read the 4 shortlisted titles, vote for their favourite book and produce a creative interpretation of one of the books for the award ceremony. English teachers and school librarians work together to make sure each student gets the most out of being part of the RED Book award.

There is also an art competition, where young people in each school are invited to redesign the front covers of each of the shortlisted books . The schools bring 4 designs to the award ceremony and the authors choose the overall winners.

The Books

The shortlist of books is decided after lengthy debate by school and public librarians, young people feed in their opinions to the debate too. The criteria include books must be available in paperback, the author is available to attend the award ceremony and the books must have the wow factor.

The young people decide the winning book through a secret vote a few weeks before the award ceremony. The winner is revealed by opening the red envelope at the close of the big day!

Key Dates

April – August: A longlist of books is read from which the shortlist is agreed.

September – April: Young people read, enjoy and debate the books.

April: Pupils vote for their favourite book.

May: the 4 shortlisted authors visit the secondary schools and the RED Book Award ceremony is held at the Falkirk Town Hall FTH

The RED Book Award Ceremony

Around 250 young people and invited guests pack into the Falkirk Town Hall to participate in the RED Book Award ceremony. Participants are encouraged to wear a red accessory and there are prizes (sponsored by Bright Red Books, www.brightredpublishing.co.uk) throughout the event for winners of the book review competition (sponsored by Palimpsest, www.palimpsest-bp.co.uk), a book cover design competition and best red accessory. The day is full of energy and fun and packed with a host of activities – from book signings and chatting with the authors to creative interpretations of the books and live entertainment by the young people.

The ceremony culminates in the opening of the red envelope to reveal the winning book.

Follow the RED on twitter.

Previous winners and shortlists:

RED 14 (2019-2020 award): Lauren James The Quiet at the End of the World


  • Orphan Monster Spy, Matt Killeen
  • The Closest Thing to Flying, Gill Lewis
  • Outwalkers, Fiona Shaw

RED 13 (2018-2019 award): Phyllida Shrimpton Sunflowers in February


  • Kick Mitch Johnson
  • I am Traitor Sif Sigmarsdottir
  • Sky Thieves Dan Walker

RED 12 (2017-2018 award): Elizabeth Laird Welcome to Nowhere       


RED 12 (2017-2018 award): Elizabeth Laird Welcome to Nowhere

  • Boy X Dan Smith
  • Hell and High Water Tanya Landman
  • Rebel of the Sands Alwyn Hamilton


RED 11 (2016-2017 award): 13 Hours by Narinder Dhami


  • The Apple Tart of Hope Sarah M Fitzgerald
  • The Year of the Rat Clare Furniss
  • Devil You Know Cathy MacPhail

RED 10 (2015-2016 award): Mind Blind by Lari Don


  • Beneath Gill Arbuthnot
  • Salvage Keren David
  • Inflicted Ria Frances

RED 9 (2014-2015 award): Raining Fire by Alan Gibbons


  • Rat Runners Oisin McGann
  • Mosi’s War Cathy MacPhail
  • Soul Shadows Alex Woolf

RED 8 (2013-2014 award): Slated byTeri Terry


  • Mortal Chaos Matt Dickinson
  • Torn David Massey
  • Mr Creecher Chris Priestly

RED 7 (2012-2013 award): An Act of Love by Alan Gibbons


  • My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece Annabel Pitcher
  • Gladiator Simon Scarrow
  • Blood Red Road Moira Young

RED 6 (2011-12 award): Wasted by Nicola Morgan


  • Ausländer Paul Dowswell
  • Koh Tabu Ann Kelley
  • Black Out Sam Mills
  • Timeriders Alex Scarrow

RED 5 (2010-11 award): Grass by Cathy MacPhail


  • Wolfcry Julia Golding
  • Colony J A Henderson
  • Chalkline Jane Mitchell
  • Deathwatch Nicola Morgan

RED 4 (2009-10 award): Divided City by Theresa Breslin


  • Don’t Tell Sandra Glover
  • Beast Ally Kennan
  • Forged in the Fire Ann Turnbull

RED 3 (2008-09 award): Worse Than Boys by Cathy MacPhail


  • Message from Mia Sandra Glover
  • Bunker 10 J A Henderson Fearless Tim Lott
  • Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea Michael Morpurgo

RED 2 (2007-08 award): Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie


  • The Ice Cream Con Jimmy Docherty
  • Ostrich Boys Keith Gray
  • Strangled Silence Oisin McGann
  • Spider Linda Strachan

RED 1 (2006-07 award): Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy


  • The Star of Kazan Eva Ibbotson
  • Airborn Kenneth Oppel
  • Tamar Mal Peet
  • Montmorency Eleanor Updale

RED Book Award. Read Enjoy Debate 2015/16

Bo'ness Ac (15)

2The RED Book Award is run by the Learning Resource Service promoting reading for enjoyment for S2 and S3 pupils in Falkirk Council.

The shortlist for this year’s RED Book Award was:

Beneath by Gill Arbuthnot

Salvage by Keren David

Mind Blind by Lari Don

Inflicted by Ria Frances

All great books which had that important wow factor.

The RED award ceremony took place on 29/1/17 at the Falkirk Town Hall. 250 young people attended from every secondary school in Falkirk Council. Each school provides a creative interpretation of one of the shortlisted books. The authors enjoy watching their readers deliver their opinion of the books through powerpoint and drama. There was an opportunity for the young people to meet and talk to the authors at the signing table and during the question & answer session. During the ceremony groups of pupils acted as journalists, photographers and a media group interviewed authors and participants for their school radio broadcast and filmed the event. Everyone is encouraged to wear a red accessory which contributes to the fun and energy of the day. It was a wonderful event – a celebration of books and reading culminating in the opening of the red envelope to reveal he winner of the RED Book Award. The winner was Mind Blind by Lari Don.

This year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the RED Book Award and to acknowledge this milestone, 10 schools across the world were invited to participate in the Book Award. Copies of the shortlisted books were sent to them and some Falkirk Council pupils were able to skype the young people in other countries to discuss the books. The countries taking part were Australia, China (2 schools), Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.

A quilt, featuring all previous RED winners and material from the countries who took part, was made by Anne Ngabia, school librarian at Grangemouth High School, and will act as a fabulous legacy for the RED Book Award.



Book week Scotland 2014!

Scottish Book Trust run Book Week Scotland every year and Learning Resource Service wanted to be part of this. Many schools and public libraries take part in this every year but there was no overall plan for the Falkirk area. A team of representatives from secondary schools, public library, teachers and the community learning development team whose remit was to plan for an ‘innovative programme for Book Week Scotland’ and to have a more co-ordinated approach. Play the video to see some of activities that took part in Falkirk in November 2014. Looking forward to working in partnership again to organise more events in 2015!