New Zealand's school librarians are passionate, engaged professionals who know how to get students of all ages and reading levels into reading. Greig Daniels is the Library Manager at Tokomairiro High School Library, in Otago.
I’m currently the librarian at the Tokomairiro High School Library in Milton, South Otago. The school caters for students from Year 7 to 13. The current school roll is 260. Tokomairiro has a positive school attitude to literacy, and the library is well supported.
I’ve been the librarian here for nearly 20 years. I had no training or prior experience as a school librarian, but came to the job with some experience in working in schools as a teacher aide. I graduated from the University of Auckland and have spent time nursing, working with children with special learning needs, and working with young people in general.
I have a lifelong love of reading and an enthusiasm for learning, and these were very helpful in the steep learning curve of my job. I believe that children’s literature is important to young people for enjoyment and teaching them the literacy skills they need. All types of literacy are key in the school environment as we try to make our clients life-long learners, and it’s great to be part of that exciting future.
I believe that children’s literature is important to young people for enjoyment and teaching them the literacy skills they need.
My average work day is from 8.30 - 4.10. I work five days a week and supervise recreational use through the students’ lunch hour. I am available to work with classes who have booked the library. I assist with research, reading advice, book talks (which I also do in classrooms), technical matters, printing, and any other problems that may arise. All Year 7 and 8 classes have a permanent weekly booking as do English classes at every level. Other departments book as they need.
I think my major role is in building relationships. These relationships with students, that assist them with their school related and recreational reading, their wider studies and in a pastoral role, are very important. By this I mean that the importance of having an awareness of students and their needs goes beyond the usual library transactions. Tokomairiro High School is a small school in a small community and this is sometimes a fantastic asset in helping to build relationships.
... the importance of having an awareness of students and their needs goes beyond the usual library transactions.
The library was part of the Focus 2000 programme and the old library and adjacent classroom were combined. It can be two workspaces divided by a more relaxed reading area, or one class can spread out across all areas. The furniture has recently been refurbished.
I try to have many reading and library promotions to get the kids in, and I am not backward in offering prizes and inducements! My most popular programme has been the Summer Reading Promotion: “ReAd Books”. Students sign up for a reading bag, and there are added goodies such as bookmarks, chocolate, and a free book. The uptake in the second year was significantly than in the first year and I hope to better that again this year.
Another promotion aimed at Year 7 was our “Name the Alien” contest which had a huge number of responses, and was really successful at helping new students be aware of the library. (The alien was a life-sized blow up figure in blue, purchased from the local A&P show).
Greig Daniels and his alien.
One of the very real contributions to the success of my library career has been the support of my peers, both informally and formally. Librarians are keen to share with their fellows, and any meeting of librarians is an occasion to share ideas, connect and talk about the profession.
I am also a member of School Librarians of New Zealand Aotearoa ( SLANZA), a professional organisation that supports all school librarians throughout New Zealand. SLANZA in its relatively short existence has had a huge influence in the library community; our presidents and national executive have been involved in discussions concerning school libraries at all levels. SLANZA provides regional and online Professional Development, as well as a national online magazine, bi-annual conferences, and many other resources for school librarians.
I had the honour to serve as Otago Representative to the national executive for five years. It was a real eye opener to see all the activities that SLANZA reps and members contribute to - all on a volunteer basis. I’m involved in the Otago region branch and have a great deal of respect for all the local librarians I meet and share with.
At the moment I am the editor of The SLANZA online magazine “Collected”. It is a magazine filled with informative articles involving our profession; business submissions; reviews as well as articles of interest to all librarians. I work with a dedicated team of volunteers, proof-readers, reviewers and writers who all contribute to the production of a great magazine.
Passion for reading and sharing
I have a long standing interest in comics and graphic novels as well as film. My major recreational activity is reading. One of the nice things about my library career is that I have been able to use my interests to promote and advise on graphic novels in libraries, and their unique combination of visual and written literacy.
I am a supporter of young adult fiction, especially that published in New Zealand. It is always special to hear our unique voice in print. I think that publishers could try to be more responsive to their student readers’ needs by spending more time and money on book design, presentation and promotion. Most librarians are enthusiastic salespeople for children’s books and love to promote our authors and publishers; having quality resources to promote products would increase sales.
... publishers could try to be more responsive to their student readers’ needs by spending more time and money on book design, presentation and promotion.
At the moment I’m promoting books by David Riley. His two books on Joseph Parker and Stephen Adams are excellent for reluctant boy readers. Tongan Heroes is a beautifully designed and illustrated account of the heroes and achievers in Tongan culture. And I always gladly promote anything published by Gecko Books: their books are well chosen, and delightfully presented.
Greig was born in Taranaki, attended Auckland University, and moved to Milton (and the South Island) in 1989. He lives with his partner (an English teacher) and three cats in Milton.
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