Stromness Academy Library

Books, reading and life in a school library

November 27, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

S1 Ancient Civilisations Research

S1 pupils in History do a research project on Ancient Civilisations based in the school library for four weeks. We start out by looking at note taking skills and the use of the library blog to find collated links to the topic in the LibLinks – Subjects Links page of the blog where various topics have Livebinders of appropriate websites to use.

Pupils are initially encouraged to work from the books available in the library, and supplemented by ones borrowed from The Orkney Library & Archive, doing some background reading before starting their note taking. We have two to three lessons solely focusing on the books, before pupils are given the choice of using the computers to continue their research or to stay with the books, which many do.





We are now coming to the end of the project and pupils are now typing up their notes into the final piece which is due in on Monday 2nd December.

October 31, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

Spooky Happenings

The annual ghost storytelling event took place in the library today. It was attended by 25 pupils, and a few staff members, with other folks passing by from time-to-time. In the short time (40 minutes) that we had nine pupils and the Librarian, Mrs Sinclair told their stories. The sentient trees discussing what to do with a human they captured was particularly unnerving. A few made up their stories on the spot, with one asking for a place and a time in history prior to telling of a ‘haunted’ mountain near the great Wall of China.

Pupils were asked to fill out evaluation sheets and comment.

It was good fun!

Could not be improved.

It was really fun. Maybe if it was longer, one a Friday perhaps.

Very fun, scary stories.

It was good.

Change the day.

Do this again.

Decent stories.

More time.

Most agreed it was fun and gave 😊  or 😀 evaluations. There was agreement that the event needs more time, but we are somewhat limited to the 40 minutes we have for lunchtime, but in reality by the time folk get here, 30 minutes is the duration of the actual storytelling.

October 3, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

Poetry Picnic for National Poetry Day

Our annual Poetry Picnic is now in its 16th consecutive year, with this being actually the 17th year of running an event to celebrate poetry and National Poetry Day. Back in 2004 the theme was ‘Food’ and the Poetry Picnic was born and in the intervening years has attracted pupils and some staff into the library to partake of snacks, their lunch, and share poetry, whether it is favourite poets or poems, or reading poems from books, or from memory.



This year a small group of regular library users and handful of staff popped by. Poems were read out from the poetry postcards which also were celebrating the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages with poems in Manx, Cornish, Welsh, Scots, and Gaelic including the English translation. Some pupils very quickly wrote their own poems and shared them, as well as a selection from some of the poetry books selected from the shelves.


October 3, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

Book Fair

Between 23rd and 27th September, the library held a book fair. This was the first fair for a number of years, but the thirteenth we have had since our first one way back in 1997.

A book fair can be a good way to promote reading for pleasure, encouraging pupil choice from a selection of teen / young adult fiction (some non-fiction too). It can also be beneficial to promoting the library, maybe drawing in pupils and staff who maybe otherwise wouldn’t visit, as well as, if commission threshold met, gaining new stock for the school library. This time we did meet the threshold of £300, which is actually a lot for a school with a small roll like ours. Pupils were given free rein to select books for the library up to a value of around £80 and we now have a nice selection of 11 new books to add to library stock in due course.

A book fair can also support Reading outcomes and benchmarks in literacy, in particular:

and choice

within a motivating and challenging environment developing an awareness of
the relevance
of texts in my life

 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
Selects texts regularly for enjoyment and interest or relevant sources to inform thinking.

Gives a personal response to texts with appropriate justification.

Explains how well a text or source meets needs and expectations
with appropriate justification.



September 26, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

A Brief Note on Internet Searching & Orkney Library Online

Searching for information online can be very hit or miss, particularly if you aren’t being careful about your search terms. People tend to open the top few links in search results. Did you know that often the results listed at the top of a search are sponsored links? This means the company whose website is linked as paid for their site to be high up on the results list. This does not mean the ‘top’ results are necessarily the most relevant. Scroll down to avoid these sponsored links. Always check following pages of results, don’t rely on the first page.

If the teacher or librarian gives you a URL (website address) or link for a specific topic, use it – don’t just decide to go off and search for information on the topic yourself. There is always a good reason you have been given the link – mainly because it is relevant, and more importantly, appropriate to the topic you are being asked to research.

Use the LibLinks page of the Library blog – there are many Subject Links to relevant LiveBinders on topics you may come across in your studies as well as useful study, careers, and reference resources links.

Orkney Library & Archive Online

Orkney Library also provide some useful reference resources and are well worth a look, particularly the Oxford Reference group of resources to which you will need an Orkney Library membership.

You can also search the Orkney Library catalogue online, so if there are any books that we don’t have in the school library, you can check their catalogue. You can go in yourself, or arrange for Mrs Sinclair to borrow them for the school library, then you can take them out on your school library card. There is access to a wide range of non-fiction which may be useful for your studies and projects.

Senior pupils or staff requiring more specialist resources can use the Inter Library Loan service, although please be aware there is a charge for this. Again, you can arrange this via Mrs Sinclair in the School Library or go to the Orkney library yourself. Please ensure you read the Inter Library Loans page including the Acceptable Use Policy before requesting one.

September 23, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

Book Fair

The Book Fair arrived in school last week and was set up on Friday afternoon with the pupil help. There is a selection of fiction and some non-fiction aimed at teens, as well as a box of stationery (inc. novelty pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.

The fair will run all week in the school library. Cash is accepted and there are facilities available for phone (cashless) payments via a secure phone number. Details are available at the fair.

Alongside this, there is a book cover competition – pupils can design a new book cover for a favourite book. First prize is £15 worth of vouchers to spend at the fair. Two runners up will each receive a £5 voucher. Entry forms can be collected from the school library or downloaded here: Create your own book cover. Digital art can also be accepted.



September 12, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

Classic Children’s Literature

New Books

We have recently taken delivery of a very pretty collection of classic children’s books, ranging from Alcott, through to Dickens, Hodgson Burnett, Jack London, and Frank L. Baum. Most of them have quizzes on the Accelerated Reader scheme, especially at the mid to upper levels (ZPD 6 – 8). These are now on display and available for borrowing.

The next batch of books in waiting is another collection, described as ‘Gothic classics’ with the likes of Austen, Doyle, Stoker, Bronte, Wells, and Shelley featuring.

We also have a small selection of books chosen by pupils and staff.

Please be patient as it does take time to process books ready for borrowing, starting off with matching them to the orders, labelling (barcode, date label, spine label, AR label), ownership stamping, AR tagging to show ZPD levels, interest level, and points value, cataloguing and covering. Some of the basic labelling and stamping is sometimes undertaken by the small team of pupil library assistants.

If you have spotted anything in the photographs above, or see them when Mrs Sinclair is processing them, let her know and the book(s) can be reserved for you when they are ready.


Coming Soon

Book Fair

23rd – 27th September

Pre-purchased vouchers (discounted) available at: 

September 3, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

BOOK FAIR 23rd – 27th September 2019

We had our first book fair back in 1997 and the one later this month will be our 13th fair, the last one having taken place in 2011. Over the years there has been mixed success in terms of reaching the commission threshold, however, as nice as it is to get fee brand new books for the school library, the benefits of exposing pupils to a selection of new books from which they can purchase outweigh this. Not everyone can make it to a bookshop, and as much as I advocate visiting our excellent local bookshops and, of course, taking advantage of the Orkney Library & Archive, bringing new books to the frontline, ie. the school, hopefully means that more young folk can have the joys of browsing a selection of books – aimed at secondary pupils.

Our book fair is just under three weeks away, running 23rd to 27th September in the library. It has been a fair few years since we last had one and it is hoped that we can make this one a success, so much so, that we can earn commission for us to be able to purchase more books, which pupils can choose, for the school library.  The target for this commission is £300 and although it seems a lot, it should be doable looking at some of the results of past fairs.

Gift vouchers can also be purchased in advance from: – good value saving 20% (eg. £10 voucher will give a £12 spend at the fair).

August 27, 2019
by Mrs Sinclair

New Term, New Books

Session 2019-20 has now started and we are now a week into the Autumn term. The local shows are over and comments are made in relation to it [suddenly] feeling autumnal, despite the fact the last few days appear to have brought some decidedly summer weather. Either way, what better time to get into a good book, than popping along to the school library and seeing what we have. Books on any of the displays can also be borrowed – they are not just there for show. Please look at them, read them, borrow them.

We also have a great selection of new books currently being processed (getting them ready for the shelves – labelling, covering, classifying, cataloguing). This does take some time so please be patient, but here is a glimpse of what we have – a couple of boxes of classics which will provide some more of the mid to higher Accelerated Reader levels, as well as a small selection suggested by pupils and staff last term. If you see Mrs Sinclair working on anything you would like to read, let her know and she’ll take your name and reserve it for you to borrow when it is ready.






Information about borrowing books can be found here. All books should be taken to Mrs Sinclair (or a pupil library assistant) at the issue desk to be properly stamped out. Please don’t take any books or other resources if no-one is available. Wait a few minutes, or come back later.

Over the summer, the library shelves were tidied and it is important, that during your use of the library you help maintain the tidy shelves by being careful when removing or replacing books on them. Information about care of books can be found here. With lessening budgets, it is important library and all school resources are looked after with care and respect for them. Damaged or lost books, however, will have to be replaced or paid for – so do look after them when you take them home.

Further information about the library – Please familiarise yourself with these

Library Guide

Behaviour Expectations

Out-of-school-hours (Before registration, lunchtime and after school activities)

The Documents section has a lot of information and guides about the library and other aspects of its use, like Computer resources, finding books and using the catalogue, as well as info on study and research skills.

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