School Librarian of the Year 2018

Well winning School Librarian of the Year was rather unexpected and it still hasn’t sunk in the scale of what I have just achieved.

I have been a School Librarian since January 2014 and what a journey it has been. I have turned the library into what I envisioned on the day of my interview but I know it will still develop on a daily basis. I love being a School Librarian although it can be challenging and very busy as a solo-Librarian, but as someone once said to me ‘I have made it into what it is and I should be very proud!’

The Process

When my line manager told me she had nominated me at the beginning of the year I was so proud to have even been nominated. Knowing that she thought I met the criteria and was worthy of this award was very rewarding. Then, back in April I received an email from Lesley Martin telling me that I had made the long-list and could I send some documents (no more than 6 sides of A4) showing some evidence of what I did. At first I didn’t think I would make the next stage as I don’t ‘teach’ anything but I have my book clubs and creative writing clubs so I used those for evidence instead.

In June judges Sue Bastone (Vice-Chair of the SLA) and Amy McKay (SLA Board Member) visited the Academy and what an itinerary I gave them. I was so nervous that morning and I knew that I had to give it my all and show them what I was made of – this was my one and only chance to shine. They were very welcoming, fun and because Amy had been exactly where I was two years earlier this put me at ease. They spoke with myself, my line manager, the senior vice principal, teachers, students and a parent. I am so grateful to all these people for getting involved and making it such a wonderful day.

Then it was just a waiting game to see if I had made the honorary shortlist!

I was actually at Bolton School at an awards ceremony with my book club when the email came through that I had done it! I was on the Honorary Shortlist, but knowing I couldn’t say anything to anyone until September was so difficult! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops as this was the stage I really wanted to get to (as well as winning of course). Knowing that the judges had visited the Academy, seen my library and were impressed with what they saw made my day!

The Awards Ceremony

Last week London happened! I couldn’t wait to go to London meet the wonderful finalists, Nikki Cleveland @MissNCleveland from Cannon Park Primary School in Coventry, Alison Kennedy @SGA_Library from St George’s Ascot, and Dr. Chhavi Jain from Manav Rachna International School in New Delhi as well as everyone else in attendance. I hadn’t realised I was so ‘popular’ on twitter until everyone started talking to me and knew who I was, it was also lovely to make new connections. I thought I was quite calm until the videos started to be shown. and I had to go up to receive my Honorary Finalist certificate and then the knees started going, I hate being centre of attention but I knew it was time embrace it! My video was quite emotional, hearing staff and students talk about ME the way they did was just very overwhelming. The videos shown for the finalists were also just fabulous, little Lucas will stay with me for a very long time!

Guest author Lauren St John spoke about her experiences with libraries and I started to relax again. Hearing an author speaking so passionately about the the profession was inspiring to listen to! All of a sudden it was time. Time for the name in the gold envelope to be read out, I have to admit I started to get nervous. And the winner is….. (long pause, Lauren did it well)….. Emma Suffield! My line manager screamed a little and all I could do was sit there and go ‘oh bloody hell’ in true Emma style in a northern Chorley accent! I just couldn’t believe it. All four of the finalists were so strong that I don’t think anyone could call it as everyone of us deserved to win. I knew then I had to get up and do a speech but I had to wing it like everything I do sometimes, but I believe it went well as I don’t remember much of it! Everyone was so lovely and as you can probably tell I was in shock!

I am so grateful to the judges for picking me as their overall winner but I want to say how proud I am of Nikki, Alison and Dr, Chhavi Jain, you are all truly inspiring, you’re all winners and I hope you are all really proud of yourselves too. I have made a friend for life throughout this process!

I hope anyone reading this is inspired to give it a go! It’s a wonderful process to be a part of. School Librarians are just fabulous and we are all learning from each other everyday, please be proud of everything you do and share it all! Advocacy is so important in this profession. We need #greatschoollibraries

Finally, am very excited for the year ahead, working with the SLA and Book Trust and anyone else who wants to collaborate with me! Thank you all once again for a wonderful experience, building my confidence and having faith in me! I am super proud of myself and hear is to the next twelve months!

Please feel free to follow me on twitter @emmasuffield and @stwLRC

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