Welcome to BiblioGarden: Lessons from a PYP Librarian

Betty Turpin BiblioGarden PYP Librarian
Betty Turpin

For the past twelve years, I’ve been a practicing school librarian at international schools in both Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  As a newcomer, I found a tremendous amount of help regarding policies, standards, pedagogy, vendors, collections, tech tools, and library management software, but virtually nothing practical in terms of how to best engage children and provide a rock solid learning experience when students come to the library.  There seems to be very little in terms of a lesson bank within the collective PYP Library world.

This website has grown from several requests to share what I have learned as well as my desire to make a starter curriculum available to new PYP librarians.  Because curriculum is tailored to fit each school’s unique patron base and cultural environment, there are still plenty of adjustments for individual librarians to make.  However, I believe that there is enough that can be shared to give new or less experienced librarians a head start on lesson planning while learning their roles and building their libraries.

Moving to the Middle East has allowed me to benchmark and compare notes with a greater number of international school librarians and I am convinced that we would all benefit from the ability to share our expertise with one another.  Although I have begun this site, my hope is that others will contribute their lesson plans, design of learning environments, and guided student experiences so that our students are best supported in their learning.  As I prepare to go live with this site in February, 2018, I’ll have approximately 130 complete lesson plans online.  However, the target is closer to 180 lesson plans by May, 2018.

Because I have worked exclusively within in IB curriculum, my site is geared for librarians who are also working within the IB’s PYP framework.  However, I am not affiliated in any way with the IBO and the IBO does not endorse this site or any of my work.

My intent is for this site to be practical and hands on.  Structured around Units of Inquiry, I hope that visitors to the site will be able to review lesson plans within a Unit of Inquiry framework and find material that will improve their own teaching librarian practice.  Please note that most of the site was prepared before AASL released their new standards for learners, librarians, and libraries.  Thus, when I tie to AASL standards, all references are to The 21st Century Learner.  Standards references will be updated over time as I come to work with and understand the new standards.

Too many school librarians in the field today focus on books instead of children.  21st century librarians should be primarily concerned with supporting and enriching students’ education, not warehousing books.  Teaching should be transdisciplinary with lessons tied both to the literacy program and Unit of Inquiry content.  Lessons and activities that happen in the library should never be treated as a “stand alone” or “single subject.”  Too many accreditation teams enter a library and ask about holdings, but successful library programs are not built on numbers of books.  Successful library programs are built on the same principles that make great classrooms; meaningful teaching and learning in an authentic framework.

I believe that we can learn from one another and would like to share what I have learned as a PYP Librarian in hopes that doing so will help others create wonderful learning experiences and amazing libraries for their students.  I am convinced that I have the best job in the world and I am wildly enthusiastic about each new day in the library.

Thank you for stopping by and for your interest.  If you know a PYP Librarian who could use a few ideas, please send them to this site.  Together we are growing modern literacies in students around the world.  There is no better, more fulfilling, or more exciting work.

Thank you to the teachers and leadership at both the International School of Stuttgart (ISS) and GEMS World Academy (GWA), Dubai.  It has been a pleasure and honor to work at both schools and learn from the children and teachers there. Finally, thank you to John Cunningham, my husband, and Daniel Gildersleeve of Gildermedia.  Both have worked tirelessly to keep this site on track and looking good.  I am deeply indebted to both of these fine men for their expertise and counsel.

Your Friend in the Library,

Miss Betty, February 2018

-Dubai, UAE


  1. Maha Renno says:

    Your idea is great to create this site
    I am new PYP librarian
    I hope to share experiences and to benefit from your experience in this field

    • Betty Turpin says:

      Hello Maha, and thank you for visiting my site. The “Go Live” date for The PYP Librarian is February, 2018. I am writing content and my team is loading it as fast as we can. Please check back in a month or two, you will find many improvements! I hope to meet you soon, perhaps in Chennai at the ECIS Librarians’ Conference. Best Wishes, Betty

  2. Iman Ragab says:

    Betty! Your website is incredibly amazing, very nice ideas. You are doing a fantastic job as you are turning the library into a real hub of learning.
    It is really fantastic to record all your treasure on one platform, so new and old librarians can find it.
    Thank you for all the effort and passion to make this out!
    I am an IB librarian workshop leader, as you said this is not affiliated by the IB, but I will refer to your website as an excellent resource for PYP librarians.
    Keep it up:) I will use your amazing ideas

    • Betty Turpin says:

      Thank you, Iman. The site is live as of 17 Feb and approximately 80% complete. I will keep working on it and expect to post a complete year’s worth of material by the end of May. Please encourage others to benchmark their practice and contribute by sharing their own units/lessons. Sincerest thanks for your feedback and support – it means the world to me! Betty

    • Betty Turpin says:

      Thank you, Andrea. I appreciate your kind words. I hope that the site will help other PYP Librarians. I thought of you all as I wrote it. My Stuttgart colleagues and school family were with me with every keystroke! Big hugs to you all. Miss you!!

  3. Bushra Ghannam says:

    Dear Betty,

    I remember you from our Follett workshop in Muscat, Oman. My colleague Faye shared your lovely website with the team. this is an ideal portal for guidance and support to IBPYP librarians and new teachers. it is very informative, well organized, and visually appealing. Love it!
    May God bless your efforts and please “WOW” us more.

    • Betty Turpin says:

      Hi Bushra, I remember you also! Thank you so much for your kind words of support. There are so many new librarians in international schools who could use a few ideas. I just wanted to share what I do in hopes that it will help someone else as they develop their own library programs. I will work on and improve the site over time. Hope to see you again soon, and please share the site with anyone who might benefit from it. Thank you again!

  4. Wow, I am so excited that I found your site. I am new to both library and the PYP, at an international school in Guangzhou, China. I’ve been international the last 16 years. I appreciate all the work you put into creating and sharing these lessons!

    • Betty Turpin says:

      Thanks, Carolyn. I’ll be working to improve the site over time, but I do hope that the lesson bank is helpful to PYP Librarians like yourself who are just starting their practices. Good luck and I wish you every success in your new school. You are going to LOVE being a PYP Librarian. Please reach out to me if there is any way I can be of further service.

    • Betty Turpin says:

      Hello and thank you for your feedback. We are just getting the “Blog” feature up and running this week. The first blog post will be about how to get Grade 5 students prepared for the PYP Exhibition. Thanks for reading and please sign-up so that you will be notified when new material is added. Good to see you in the international school library world! Please also consider adding your expertise and voice. What do you do well that others might benefit from learning?

  5. Madhur says:

    Hi! Betty,
    Hope you are doing good! at present where are you working ?
    It’s been pleasure to know you and meet you often in our library meetings.
    Miss you , your site is super amazing ..it’s survival for me as I am now in whole IB school , left Gems for betterment..so much of information and ideas on your site..thanks so much..
    Do keep in touch…
    Are u active on Twitter or Insta?

    • Betty Turpin says:

      Hi Madhur, We have connected privately but just wanted to say thanks for stopping by and taking a look at the site. This week I’m adding a post about how to get Grade 5 students ready for the PYP Exhibition project. My Twitter Account is @BiblioGarden and I’ll start posting there again soon, as well. The web site kicked off in February and, as you know, I took a few months to finish the school year and repatriate. However, I’m now entering Phase II of the web site’s development and look forward to putting up more material very soon. Miss you, my friend! All the best in your new position this year.

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