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CBI Award to the JCSP Libraries

KathleenCongratulations to Kathleen Moran and all JCSP Librarians!!!

The CBI Award is presented in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the world of children’s books. 

The recipient is nominated by CBI members and is therefore, people whose work is dedicated to the promotion of books and reading and the enjoyment of reading with children and young people, in their schools and libraries and with parents and with the wider book selling and book publishing community. It is an award made by people who are well informed and deeply involved in the world of children’s reading and literacy.  It recognises commitment, dedication, excellence, innovation, integrity and professionalism. Most of all it seeks to highlight the importance of reading - and in particular reading for pleasure - in the lives of children and young people.

So being part of this award is always a special pleasure and no less so this year as this citation is for a project and for someone that I know and deeply respect and admire. 

The nomination reads: 

I would like to nominate Kathleen Moran and the JCSP libraries

Because of the amazing work they do in engaging young people who might otherwise be early school-leavers, encouraging them to read and familiarising them with the notion of a library as a place of peace, creativity, stimulation and empowerment. It’s not just about providing their students with access to a wide range of appropriate books – though that is of course at the centre of their work – but it is about valuing the young people they serve, seeing them as readers (and writers), and giving them the tools, the environment, the respect and the encouragement to see themselves in this way also. Many JCSP librarians are actively involved in bringing authors into their schools and providing their students with quality literary experiences.

Many years ago, when these libraries were first developed, I asked a teacher from a rural second-level school what kind of attitude the young people had to the library, and was it difficult to entice them to use it. He laughed and said, ‘No, in fact they are queuing up impatiently every day to get in.’ And that is, of course, because those kids are given to understand that their library is their space and it is a place of welcome and a place they want to be in. That is the kind of outcome that everyone involved in children’s books wants for our projects.

The original brief of the JCSP Demonstration Library Project was to improve literacy levels, develop a whole school reading culture and enhance the learning experience of students. Under Kathleen’s leadership, the range of programmes that have been initiated has far exceeded this original vision. Since its inception in 2002 the impact of the Project on students’ experience of education and on the development of their identity as readers has continued to increase. To date, over 200,000 students have benefitted directly from having access to a JCSP Library and Librarian in their schools, and tens of thousands more have benefitted from the range of outreach initiatives that the Project coordinates. Over the last school year, over 120,000 books were borrowed by the 10,000 students in the 30 JCSP Library Project schools. These are students who would have identified themselves as non-readers and who would not utilise their local public library service. 

Each JCSP library receives some funding from Ireland’s Department of Education and Kathleen has been instrumental in developing strong relationships with a range of organisations in the areas of education, libraries, publishing and the arts through which she has obtained additional funding toward the projects that she coordinates through her libraries. Many of these co-funded partnership projects are now embedded in the education system and new projects and partnerships are identified and added each year.

Having joined the public libraries from school Kathleen Moran became one of the ten school librarians in the Pilot phase of the JCSP Demonstration Library Project in 2002 which established a completely new library service focused on the literacy needs of the most disadvantaged students in lower secondary school. In 2006 Kathleen became the Senior Librarian/Manager   managing all aspects of the expansion of the service to thirty schools.

The JSCP Library Service created and continues to create a completely new quality learning space within the schools with an atmosphere and culture primarily centred on reading, and on interactions with books and reading that draw on the students’ own enthusiasms and creativity.  Kathleen along with the team of JCSP Librarians have developed a unique service that young teenagers find both relevant and enjoyable. That atmosphere has changed the student’s attitudes to reading and has led to a more effective engagement with literacy initiatives

Creating, developing and supporting an effective network and learning community of school librarians with high morale, Kathleen and the team have managed to continuously improve individual library support to particularly in the schools’  search for new and innovative approaches to address the literacy needs of their students.

JCSP librarians have been recognized on the honours list of the UK School Library Association, on four different occasions, and two members of the team were awarded the honour of the School Librarian of the Year.

Kathleen and the team have maintained the importance of students accessing a professional library service, exemplified by the promotion of the Summer Reading programme and of the Outreach programme to other schools in the community in areas where there isn’t a library focused on young teenagers with reading challenges and literacy needs.

The JCSP Libraries also support various write in residence schemes, many in collaboration with Poetry Ireland, with writers and poets, - in particular I might mention the WRAPPAROUND Spoken Word Residences held in 35 schools last year - which concentrates on oral language development, creative writing, drafting, editing, presentation, performance and expressive skills.  All of which break down the barriers and distance between reading and hesitant readers, not to mention the range of ancillary skills such as confidence, self-esteem and a positive attitude towards school in general.

More recently Kathleen has introduced the JCSP Digital Library service to all the 250 Secondary schools designated as having a significant number of disadvantaged students.

The JCSP Library Project is increasingly becoming the subject of masters, doctoral and other academic studies. For example two books “The Invisible Librarian: A Librarian’s Guide to Increasing Visibility and Impact” by Aoife Lawton” and “Effective School Librarianship” by Patrick Lo, Heather Rogers, Dickson K.W. Chiu have specific articles on the JCSP library service.

She developed The JCSP Demonstration Library Project Charter.

The Charter identifies a student’s right to have time for reading, to talk about books, to be read to, to be inspired by good books.

In addition Kathleen and her team also work hard to promote the profile of reading to families and the general community through:

  • Inviting family members to attend school reading events (author visits, library promotions, etc.)
  • Organising the display of student work in community spaces
  • Using local and national media to promote the importance of reading
  •  Facilitating student involvement in national and local reading festivals, events, etc.

Kathleen and the team regularly collaborate with

  • Poetry Ireland –Writers in Schools, WRaPParound, Poetry Aloud, etc.
  • Children’s Books Ireland – CBI Book Awards Shadowing Scheme, EUReads
  • Erasmus+ - Involvement in a range of Erasmus+ projects in the area of reading and literacy. Currently involved in the project ‘Europe – a Community Made of Stories’ with partners from 3 other European countries.
  • Public Library Service – wide range of collaborative projects.

Finally, Kathleen and the team have been tireless in founding and promoting the Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) initiative in Ireland.  Through Kathleen’s capacity for collaboration and partnership, she has stimulated increasingly larger and larger whole communities groups to participate in drawing attention to the importance of reading for pleasure. Over 200,000 people took part in 2019 including individuals, families, schools, colleges, businesses.

Equity and equality are at the heart of everything that Kathleen Moran does. Kathleen and the JCSP Library Team has been tireless in their endeavours to ensure that the cohort of students that are targeted by the Project are supported to develop a life-long joy of reading and are given the tools they need to successfully navigate their world as 21st century learners.

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