Stromness Academy Library

Books, reading and life in a school library

August 12, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

We’re Back!

Welcome back to Stromness Academy, and to the school library. I would love to say it will be business as usual, but it isn’t, however I hope I can make your use of the library as a space for personal reading, study, and as a ‘break-out’ social area as comfortable and easy as possible (minus the soft seating, sadly) under the circumstances – even if you just want to have a chat about anything, be it video games, Dungeons & Dragons, books, films, your new kitten, or just a general natter.

It has been a long few months with plenty of ups and downs for us all, adult and student alike. I hope many of you have managed to get plenty of reading done, but don’t stress if you haven’t. I have seen commented in social media, that reading, for whatever reason had been a struggle for some, myself included.

Since we went into lockdown and beyond, I have still been working, albeit predominantly at home. What, you may ask, can a school librarian do at home? Aren’t libraries all about the books? Well, just to give you a peedie snippet of what a school librarian can do at home:

  • Online CPD (training) – there were lots of free webinars.
  • Keeping the school website up-to-date as well as general maintenance of the site.
  • Running an online D&D game through Teams for some of the activities group.
  • Labelling new books and giving them their AR levels (yes, I took a box of books home with me).
  • Up-dating library guidelines and routines.
  • Collating statistics
  • Running D&D and Reading Group Teams on Glow.
  • Staff meetings via Teams.
  • Collaborative work with other staff.
  • Creating the digital pupil handbook – a very big project – Pupil Handbook.

Since I have been back in school most of the work has been changing the physical layout of the library to enable social distancing as well as getting all the shelves tidied after they were abandoned in a mess in March. By early next week I hope to have completed the annual maintenance on the library management system, so that you will be able to borrow books by the end of next week. At the bottom of this post are links to the current guidelines on library use. Please familiarise yourself with them.

What are the Changes?

  • Reduced seating (by at least a third).
  • Reference section used as storage area for furniture, and a separate work table for the librarian if needed.
  • Sanitising stations at each door – remember, you are encouraged to bring your own sanitiser.
  • Pupils encouraged to clean chairs and desks where they have sat.
  • Reduced number of computers – 8 now available instead of 11.
  • Upper library used as SfL base at break and lunchtimes.
  • Library open at interval and before registration for S1-3 pupils.
  • Lunchtime – open for S4-6 pupils Period 4, and usual time for S1-3. Note – time will be given cleaning will take place between lunch sittings.
  • No activities (incl. board games, D&D, miniature painting, etc.).
  • No access to stationery (coloured pens, pencils, etc).
  • No handling of books – look at the shelves, but don’t touch – reserve a title with Mrs Sinclair. However – Books can still be borrowed with appropriate hygiene routines in place. All returned books will be quarantined for 72 hours and cleaned.
  • Library Team – all pupils and staff – here you will find info about the library and book request forms. Access code available from the library
  • No access to upper library via spiral stair.
  • Ventilation – Windows always open (Brrrrr! bring warm clothing).
  • Tissues available in various parts of the library – use them if you need to cough or sneeze, then bin the tissue immediately.





I know this may be hard for you, as it is for me, but we need to protect ourselves and each other. I will be keeping at least two metres from you in line with social distancing – usually remaining behind the issue desk, however where this is not possible (helping a student, fetching a book off the shelf, etc), I will wear a face covering when I am out and about in the main area of the library, particularly when it is busy. Please feel free to wear a face covering if you wish to do so.

Remember talk to each other, talk to me about anything to do with library related issues – I am here to listen and help. Support and help each other too. This is not normal, but we have to adapt and become used to it. Let’s make the best of a bad position.


Frances Sinclair, School Librarian


Links to Library Use Guidelines

Library Use

Book browsing


Face covering

May 27, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

Lockdown Lowdown – An Online News Project by S2

During the enforced stay at home during lockdown, pupils and staff have still been working away at learning and teaching as well as having to find different ways to work. These fantastic articles by S2 pupils under the direction of their English teacher have now been collated online.

As part of their recent studies in journalism, S2 have created an online news website containing their own articles and content. Many of the pupils have used the current pandemic as inspiration for their reports. As a result, they have created an impressive record of the impact of Covid-19 locally and personally.

Content will be updated regularly. Please check it out at:

Stromness Academy Online Newspaper

On March the 23 rd Boris Johnson put the whole country in lockdown because of the Covid- 19 outbreak. The lockdown has put nearly everything to a stop but farming, here in Orkney as elsewhere, still continues. For many farmers Spring is the busiest time of the year.

May 18, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

Getting through unusual times (Mental Health Awareness Week 18th – 24th May)

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme is Kindness which is incredibly important in these strange and unusual times which are now impacting on many people’s lives around the world – none the least on our mental health. From across the world and in our own country we are seeing compassion and kindness on many levels, the volunteers in local hubs delivering food to the vulnerable, the acknowledgement of the NHS and emergency services, the doorstep cake drop from a neighbour – all acts of kindness that are helping us somewhat to get through.

Mental health and emotional wellbeing has in recent years been spoken about much more openly, recognised by the medical profession, and being recognised and acknowledged by employers, and schools, etc as an illness that can impact our personal and working lives. Sadly the current pandemic is doing just that.

Around the world many people’s lives have changed in how we work and live due to a pandemic caused by an invisible enemy – a new or ‘novel’ coronavirus,  known as SARS-CoV-2 which causes the severe respiratory disease now known as COVID-19. This particular coronavirus is just one of many of coronaviruses that cause illness in animals in humans. In humans, the vast majority only cause mild illness and upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold but can develop into pneumonia. Some are more severe such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003 and the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) recognised in Saudi Arabia in 2012. This one has rapidly spread round the world and was declared as a pandemic on  12th March 2020.

Countries around the world restricted their populations movement, ordering ‘lockdown’ or ‘stay in place’ orders, embedded in law. Restrictions varied from country to country. Some locked down early prior to any outbreaks getting too big a foothold, others delayed. Only essential travel was allowed for weekly food, and work, if you could not work from home, and a short period of exercise from home – if you were lucky to be in a country that allowed leaving the house for exercise. This new way of living has impacted many. Those essential workers, the NHS staff, the carers, the shop workers, the posties, the bin men, etc. all still have to go to work, knowing they risk contracting the virus and bringing it home to their family, let alone, those in the NHS who are dealing with the tragic number of deaths, those of us trying to work from home, the school pupils, the students, the teachers, those who have been furloughed, those who have lost their jobs, lost family and friends to the disease… everything is different it impacts us all whether we have underlying mental health issues or not. Anxiety, Loneliness, sadness, loss (of loved ones, and a normal way of life), fear, insomnia & other sleep issues, anger, overeating, under eating, lack of motivation, heightened emotions, uncertainty, etc. are experienced by many.

Some reassuring points I personally took away from a recent webinar Covid-19: Safefty Tips for Reopening your Library by Prof. Dipesh Navsana (University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health) – this is worth a listen to – particularly the first half giving reassuring and clear facts about COVID-19:

Uncertainty – roll with it!

No human activity of any kind is 100% safe

Looking for information about COVID-19 – use well-vetted reputable sources (eg. NHS, WHO). Avoid social media as sources of info – which are often inaccurate, sensationalised, and fear mongering.

Be caring and compassionate – to others, and importantly to yourselves!

Suggestions to help yourself – which have been shown to help

  • Exercise
  • Get outside, appreciate what’s around you. Take time to just stop and listen.
  • Reading
  • Hobbies – crafts, drawing, painting, knitting, crochet, etc
  • Connect with people – Facetime, Whatsapp, videoconferencing
  • Help other people in your household
  • Set yourself goals or challenges – don’t have to be big ones, whether it is to carry out an act of kindness (eg. make a cuppa for a family member),
  • Interact with your animals
  • Meditation
  • Baking & cooking
  • Create a routine – including sensible bed times and get up at same time every day
  • Accept what you can’t change

Remember – talk to people. Seek help, whether it is from your GP, a counsellor, a line manager, a guidance teacher – Reach out for help if you need it!


Things you can do to help clear your head. Healthier Scotland

Living with the pandemic if you already have mental health problems. Mental Health Foundation.

10 Stress Busters. NHS.

Hobbies can Reduce Anxiety and Stress. No Panic.

World Health Organisation. COVID-19 Questions and Answers 

 What is coronavirus, how did it start and how big could it get? The Telegraph. 18/5/20



April 24, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

Online Resources from Orkney Library & Archive

As we continue to work and study from home, we mustn’t forget the amazing resource that most of us can access without leaving the house – the Orkney Library & Archive’s online resources. Most of these resources do require you to have an Orkney Library membership. Currently, if you were to email them on they will set up membership for you, but will require a signature at a later date.


This document has been put together to introduce you to their resources: Orkney Library & Archive –  Online Resources & Oxford Reference.

If you are interested in local history, then the Archive page is also worth a look. They also have an archive blog, Get Dusty.

eBooks & eAudiobooks

With an Orkney Library membership, you can access eBooks and eAudiobooks for free via BorrowBox, and stream or download music via Freegal. Again, you will need a library membership to access these.

Orkney Talking Newspaper is also available via the website.



March 19, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

Fill your Bag with Books

Extraordinary circumstances – library loan limits waived – overdue reminders went out in the last two days and it is preferable but not essential to get them returned or renewed.

Pupils and staff can take as many books as they feel they need for the next few weeks. Ignore the loan date stamped – just for records. No overdues will be sent out.

Remember to get library books stamped out at the desk.

Also please also help yourself to the non-library books off the book swap trolley or the boxes of books on the tables. You might find something your parents or younger siblings might like to read.

If you have any queries in terms of book suggestions, or information requirements in relation to you studies or interested please do not hesitate to contact me via email:

Anyone interested in joining a Microsoft Team to discuss books and reading can get in touch via the above email.

If you like e-books and audiobooks, the Orkney Library & Archive have a loan facility for these. If you are an Orkney Library member, you can use Borrowbox. They also have a digital music lending service called Freegal.   There are also some great online reference resources available at Library Online.

Stay safe over the coming weeks –

  • Develop a daily routine
  • Get your allocated schoolwork done
  • Read
  • Build in relaxation and chilling time
  • Protect your mental health
  • Practise social distancing to keep vulnerable family safe

All the best – will be thinking of you in these times.

March 13, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

Fake News

We are all, or at least should all be aware of double and triple checking the sources of information we view on the internet, yet many of us get caught out. In the light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it is doubly important to ensure you are getting the correct information and to be aware there is a lot of misinformation out there which may cause increased anxiety. Firstly, Here is the official information schools have been given (Click on the image):

You can also go to the NHS or World Health Organisation pages.

Secondly, here is information put together for a recent display to help you ascertain what may or may not be true.

February 25, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

Coming Soon – World Book Day

Building a Reading Culture – WORLD BOOK DAY: Thursday 5th March 2020

Here are a few of the things to look forward to:

WBD £1 BOOK TOKENSCan be used in local participating books shops including to exchange for the specially published £1 books. Tokens will be issued during library periods. Senior phase may came and collect one from Mrs Sinclair in the library.

BOOK SWAP – Bring a book, take a book! Do you have any pre-loved books you no longer want to keep? Would you like to acquire some new (to you) books? A book swap will run from next Wednesday in the library (and staffroom). Donations to populate the trolley gratefully received prior to the launch. Books (fiction or non-fiction) should be in very good or excellent condition (no scribbles, mildew, stained pages, etc) and suitable for the school population.

NATIONAL BOOK TOKEN COMPETITION – Design a book token with a chance to win up to £150 in books for yourself, and £250 books for the school library. Entry forms will be available in the library.

BOOK BLIND DATE – Take a chance on an unknown book. Pick a wrapped book and borrow it, read it, review it (a brief review, even if you didn’t like it or get very far).

BOOK CAFÉ – An informal event in the library to read and share favourite reading, do the National book token competition, literary colouring in, chilling with books. Hot choc / tea / coffee on offer. Bring lunch (eg. Sandwiches) – no hot snacks. Reading and discussion. No PCs available. Please let Mrs Sinclair know if you are interested.

February 20, 2020
by Mrs Sinclair

A Plethora of Lunchtime Activities

The school library at lunchtime has become a place where pupils can do a variety of different activities whether it just chilling out on a bean bag, doing homework, or playing board games. It can be busy with sometimes between 40 and 50 pupils in the library, averaging around 25-30 most days. Most of the activities are pupil driven – they can choose what they want to do within the bounds of what is appropriate and as long as they are not rowdy or disruptive we offer great flexibility within the bounds of a 40 minute lunch break.

What do pupils do:

  • Computers for leisure (games or browsing) or work – work always has priority. Pupils may book PCs in advance if they know they need to do work.Pupils manage to find plenty of games to play, however they are restricted to those that are of appropriate age range and to the school setting (same with general internet browsing). Often they are ‘competing’ against each other in a game on an individual or team basis. Most of the time the atmosphere is of happy cooperation.

  • Board games (as listed below)
  • Reading for pleasure

  • Writing for pleasure
  • Drawing
  • Homework
  • Study & revision
  • Research
  • Chilling and chatting (hopefully relatively quietly) on bean bags and soft seating
  • Dungeons & Dragons character creation, game preparation and design

  • Pupil Library Assistant jobs

  • Occasional pupil working group meetings (Upper Library)
  • Magic the Gathering and other trading card games such as Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh)
  • Nintendo switch games – often in groups with individuals or teams going against each other
  • Colouring-in – a recent addition with a view to being a fun activity, yet also as a relaxing one to help relieve anxiety and stress. This is tied in with a display of books on mental health awareness.


We have some more formal activities on set days although these can be done on any day:

Monday – Miniature Painting: Mrs Sinclair, the Librarian, ‘teaches’ pupils the basics of miniature painting, and even pupils teach Mrs Sinclair. The library, due to generous donations over the years has a variety of miniatures pupils can choose from, which they can paint for the library collection, or keep for themselves, if they so wish. Some will paint up one to represent their character in Dungeons & Dragons activities we run on Tuesday after school and Friday activities period.

Tuesday – Chess & Board Games: We have several chess and draughts boards as well as Connect4, Mastermind, Topple Blocks, Ker-Plunk, D&D Board Game and Lord of the Rings Risk available. The ‘official’ session is on a Tuesday but pupils will play them most days as they are on an easily accessible shelf.












Wednesday – Magic the Gathering: MtG is a strategy (collectable) fantasy card game which has been played in the library for many years. Individuals and teams can play against each other with cards that represent monsters, spells and other effects and equipment with the aim to reduce each other’s hit points from 20 to 0.

We always welcome recommendations for activities, especially if pupil led, or suggestions for new board games – of which donations would be gratefully received. Might even look into having a few jigsaws available too.


Curriculum for Excellence

Health & Wellbeing

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

I know that friendship, caring, sharing, fairness, equality and love are important in building positive relationships. As I develop and value relationships, I care and show respect for myself and others. HWB 3-05a / 4-05a

Social Wellbeing

As I explore the rights to which I and others are entitled, I am able to exercise these rights appropriately and accept the responsibilities that go with them. I show respect for the rights of others. HWB 3-09a / 4-09a

I recognise that each individual has a unique blend of abilities and needs. I contribute to making my school community one which values individuals equally and is a welcoming place for all. HWB 3-10a / 4-10a

I make full use of and value the opportunities I am given to improve and manage my learning and, in turn, I can help to encourage learning and confidence in others. HWB 3-11a / 4-11a

Through contributing my views, time and talents, I play a part in bringing about positive change in my school and wider community. HWB 3-13a

I value the opportunities I am given to make friends and be part of a group in a range of situations. HWB 3-14a


I understand and can demonstrate the qualities and skills required to sustain different types of relationships. HWB 3-44b / 4-44b

I am aware of the need to respect personal space and boundaries and can recognise and respond appropriately to verbal and non-verbal communication. HWB 3-45b / 4-45b


Listening & Talking

When I engage with others, I can make a relevant contribution, encourage others to contribute and acknowledge that they have the right to hold a different opinion. I can respond in ways appropriate to my role and use contributions to reflect on, clarify or adapt thinking. LIT 3-02a


I regularly select and read, listen to or watch texts for enjoyment and interest, and I can express how well they meet my needs and expectations and give reasons, with evidence, for my personal response. I can identify sources to develop the range of my reading. LIT 3-11a


I enjoy creating texts of my choice and I am developing my own style. I can regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience. LIT 3-20a


I enhance my learning by applying my ICT skills in different learning contexts across the curriculum. TCH 3-04a

By considering ways to protect technological devices, I can act safely and responsibly when selecting and using different technologies to communicate and collaborate. TCH 3-08a


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