Wester Hailes Education Centre’s library is an example of how passion can overcome financial difficulties.
Despite budget cuts that have resulted in a lack of funding for the past two years, the Library has been transformed into a bright, open space entirely by in-house staff. Library stocks have been replenished through donations and borrowing from the area’s school library services warehouse.
The school’s commitment to improving literacy and encouraging reading for pleasure is apparent in the numerous literacy initiatives they put in place. An exciting example is the annual trip to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where the children attend authors’ seminars and are able to experience the world of books from a new perspective. Following on from this year’s festival, Anne is planning on inviting teen fiction authors to talk to students at the school.
(Left: A sign of good things to come – poster outside Wester Hailes Education Centre’s library.)
The school also collaborates in the creation of Edinburgh Council resources that are available for teens to pick up in school libraries: book review magazine for teenagers Teen Titles, which features short opinion pieces by the students about books they have read; as well as book recommendation leaflets Great Reads for Younger Teens and Great Reads for Teens.
It was this passion and dedication to encouraging a love of reading that prompted us to donate the Merchiston Publishing titles to Wester Hailes Education Centre.
The insight we were able to gain in talking with Anne will prove invaluable for future projects.
We were given an overview of the school’s library system and the challenges that face it, as well as a glimpse into the uncertainties of a possible future merger of school libraries and the Edinburgh public library system.
(Left: WHEC School Librarian Anne Brownlee giving us valuable insights into teen fiction preferences.)
Listening to Anne explain which books the students are drawn to and why depending on their age range – or which titles are sought out by girls and which by boys – gave us a revealing snapshot of our future target market.
As our first project as Edinburgh Napier MSc Publishing students, the Merchiston Publishing Books to Bairns initiative presented itself as a deceptively simple project to accomplish.
In attempting to deliver the titles to schools we discovered it is not always easy to interest the intended recipient, for reasons ranging from deals the schools have in place with other publishers, to processes that meant missing the deadline.
(Left: Anne Brownlee giving MSc Publishing students a comprehensive overview of how Wester Hailes Education Centre encourages student literacy.)
Learning to negotiate our several commitments in order to complete the tasks required is an ability that will be useful to us in the future year and beyond.
Overcoming setbacks and difficulties pulled us together as a group and we were able to learn to play off each other’s different strengths and skills.
More than anything, it was exciting to see the enthusiasm the beautiful books created by alumini of Edinburgh Napier’s MSc Publishing programme elicited and how appreciated they were.
We left the school happy and inspired but impatient to get started on our own Merchiston Publishing live projects, so we can look forward to further spreading appreciation for books and beautiful stories.