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News & Events Norfolk students wins National Library Award.

Sam Steel-Jessop, a former University Technical College Norfolk students, has just been announced as the joint-winner of the 2020 Pupil Library Assistant of the Year award, out of seven finalists!

The award is hosted by CILIP: the library and information association, the Schools Library Group, and the School Library Association. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they moved the awards over into this year, with the winner of the award being gifted with a £500 voucher for resources to benefit their school library. Sam has decided to increase the accessibility of the UTCN library with it, which will include purchasing a range of audio books and creating a “snug reading area” within their library.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Sam on his experience with reading and his feeling upon getting this achievement.

How does it feel to win the Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award?

It feels fantastic to finally have a result to the award after it being under discussion due to covid for so long! To have found out that I am one of the two joint winners was the best news that I could have hoped for! I am super happy for both myself and the UTCN Library who will benefit from the award!

What made you first get into reading?

I have always been a big reader, and regularly used to complete the Summer Reading Challenges set by Norfolk Library. But around the time I started high school I sort of fell out of love with reading and struggled to find anything interesting to read. When I joined UTCN, Mrs Settle was fantastic at recommending new books to challenge me! for the third year running I am now trying to read 75 books throughout the year, with 36 already completed!

What is your favourite book and why?

This is a tough question! I could say something like my favourite book is the next one I read, but I think it would have to be Floored by Sara Barnard and six other authors or What if it is us by Becki Albertali and Adam Silvera. Floored was the first book I enjoyed reading for a long while and is unique by being a collaborative book that reads like one author, with a great mystery plot. “What if it Us” is simply a wholesome and feel-good story that I enjoy. I also love anything Becki Albertali writes, and currently am trying to read the Tales of Verania series by TJ Klune.

The winners’ school library receives a cheque for £250 to put into place their nominees’ ideas for their library. Now that you’ve won, would like to talk us through this idea, and how it would benefit the students of UTCN.

The original challenge was to increase accessibility to the library. My idea was to purchase a range of audiobooks through a charity called “Listening Books” and to create a reading snug within the library.

The £100 a year subscription to Listening Books would allow the library to issue 50 books a week, with 10 at a time. This means that 2600 books can be issued across the year.

The charity offers a range of fiction titles and also includes revision guides, and this is ideal for a school library. The charity is supported by the National Curriculum and also includes commonly studied titles. The remainder of the budget would be used to create a reading snug. This is because currently one of the most frequently requested improvements for the library is the provision of a quiet area to read. The snug would be created by sectioning a small area of the library and sound deadening it. This would cut down the noise and provide a relaxing space to read.

What’s one piece of advice/ a trick you would give to students to encourage more of them into reading?

I would suggest they try different genres of books, and if they get a couple of chapters into a book and don’t enjoy it, put it down and try something else. Ask Mrs Settle for recommendations too as she’s fantastic and always has new stock being processed!

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