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Start with the Youngest: the Library for Nursery and Infant Children
Woods, Dawn (2009)
Series: SLA Guidelines Mini
Great Britain: School Library Association
 ISBN: 9781903446515
30 pages       
As a new title in the UK School Library Association’s ‘mini’ Guideline series, this slim A4 hand-book focuses on library services for pre-Prep to Year Two school children. It offers succinct, but persuasive, coverage of this topic in no more than thirty pages. Five brief ‘chapters’ serve as topical headings specifically directed at emphasizing the value of library services for the very young with a helpful ‘how-to’ outline for the establishment of such services. Practical information and advice about staffing, the scope of resources, selection policy and use of the library are sufficiently detailed and comprehensive in their coverage so that this mini-guideline appears to serve its purpose most satisfactorily. Although the author includes computers, audio-visual resources, games and toys as equally valuable resources as books, she conveys the importance of the printed word, in book form, as a prime artifact in the process of developing language, literacy and communication skills.  
Throughout the text numerous references to authoritative reports, studies and websites relate to issues concerned with the development of learning in young children, the early years of schooling and the twin goals of literacy achievement and reading. Whilst many of the references specifically relate to the UK curriculum and context, others refer to international studies intended for more universal application. Importantly, all confirm the value of the library in the processes of early learning, and its power to impact more widely upon family and community groups. Two case studies usefully illustrate the thrust of the guideline, and several appendices recommend professional online and material resources to further support the initial chapters. So, where a school or institution has neither a librarian nor a library, is this mini-guide sufficiently informative to enable staff to set about establishing a library of their own? Well, why not? In times when teacher-librarians seem to be an increasingly scarce commodity, guides such as this provide invaluable links to professional library associations who are willing to share their expertise and influence.
Reviewed by Dr Susan Boyce
Member of the Synergy board