SLA School Librarian of the Year – Honour List Librarian

Last week, the librarian profile was about Annie Brady of St Paul’s CBS Secondary School, Dublin. You can read more about her on the SLA site:

This week, the focus is on the Federation’s own Executive member, Chris Routh. Federation Chair, Sarah Stuffins, said, Three fantastic librarians from three very different schools are on the Honour List for the SLA Librarian 2015 and the FCBG is absolutely thrilled that one of our members is among them. Chris Routh has been an enthusiastic member of her local group in Reading for several years. She is a member of the committee there and has often hosted group events in her school, bringing school and community together. In 2014 Chris joined the FCBG Executive and brought all her enthusiasm and creative ideas to the national level.’

Chris Routh

Chris Routh at Leighton Park School   (

– a Quaker independent school in Reading with 440 day and boarding students aged 11 to 18

“Chris facilitates lifelong learning ensuring the students have the tools they need to empower them: her impact is felt everywhere within the school.”

Karen Gracie –Langrick, Deputy Head, Academic studies and IB Co-ordinator

The library is housed in the Old School building, and is approached by a sweeping, double staircase up to an elegant oval landing lit from above by an oval skylight. The extensive accommodation in six rooms includes soft seating, low and high tables and Chris introduced an i-Pad bar. This is popular and heavily used by students. The library is well represented online with links to reading lists and events.  It is open daily from 8.50 am to 5.30 pm – and Saturday morning for Sixth Form boarders.

Chris has worked at the school for over a decade and during that time she has been able to ensure that the extremely well stocked library is kept up to date. She is able to respond to a wide range of requests from staff and students.  A number of newspapers and periodicals are taken along with a wide selection of magazines both for academic subjects and leisure reading and, as might be anticipated given the heritage of the school, a collection of books on the Quaker movement. Databases include Britannica Online, JSTOR, ODNB and The Day, which Chris reported as having had a huge increase in usage, possibly because it is available on the iPads.  Last year a Comic Club met in the library, resulting in an increase in demand for graphic novels and comics. The students involved are now participating in the Stan Lee Excelsior Award, reviewing and rating graphic novels and manga.

Years 7, 8 and 9 have a fortnightly lesson for quiet reading. There are ‘Approaches to Learning’ lessons, which give pupils grounding for independent learning, for years 7 and 8.                       The library is widely used by different departments including, History and Politics, PE, Psychology, Science and Theory of Knowledge. Chris supports teachers in delivering lessons and finding resources.She teaches information and study skills and a basic course is followed by a mini-project. All year groups and new staff get library inductions.

In 2014, to commemorate one hundred years since the outbreak of World War 1, Chris devised a project focusing on Quakers in the war and conscientious objectors. She managed to persuade Reading Museum to lend the school some of the panels from an exhibition they curated on Reading during the war, which she supplemented with artefacts hired from the museum loan service. She tirelessly researched eight individuals in Reading and then gave the information to the students of Years 7-11 to work on. The project, ‘A Matter of Conscience’, culminated in an entire day in which the whole school put lessons to one side to learn and think about life during the Great War.  The day started with a fascinating talk from the curator at Reading Museum and ended with a thought – provoking session with Marcus Sedgwick talking about his book, Cowards. This summer Chris created a photographic record of the project and published a book, on a limited print run. She gave a copy to the library at Friends House in London who had also helped her with research.

Chris runs a huge number of reading promotion projects including four different book clubs; an annual book festival; Book Buzz for year 7; Berkshire Book Award for Year 8; Greenaway and Carnegie Medals for years 7, 8 and 9 and has attracted Gillian Cross to become the school’s Patron of Reading.  For World Book Day and Harry Potter Night, she has organised book themed lunches and quizzes. In 2014, she launched the ‘Writing for Teenagers Conference’ which attended by local schools. 2016 sees the third of these conferences and will involve the whole of Year 9.

Chris is a qualified librarian; line managed by a Deputy Head, and is a Head of Department. She is part of a working group on literacy across the curriculum. In her own time Chris is also on the Executive Committee of the Federation of Children’s and a committee member of the local Children’s Book Group/branch called Getting Reading Reading.

She believes a quiet atmosphere, with plenty of small areas helps to encourage learning.  The Head of English, at the time of the visit by the judging panel, said that Chris is a real go to person, who ensures everything she organises is completely appropriate to what is being taught.

Chris would like to continue to develop supporting teaching and learning and would like to have a pop-up library in the grounds.  Her vision is to facilitate more events for the local community that would cover costs, and extend to a wider audience.

Nigel Williams, Head commented that her dedication to all aspects of the school was huge. “She is not just a librarian, but a real ambassador for the school.”

Look out for Jane Spall’s profile next week.

One response to “SLA School Librarian of the Year – Honour List Librarian”

  1. What a very special and exceptional member of staff: Leighton Park School are truly very lucky and she gets my vote for School Librarian of 2015, 2016, 2017…..