Librarian Guest Blog

Headshot of Terri McCargar, Librarian at Latymer Upper School and digital resources advocate.We’re grateful to Terri McCargar, Head Librarian at Latymer Upper School, for sharing her insights as our guest blogger this month. With her rich background in educational publishing and librarianship, Terri skillfully unpacks the value of digital libraries and resources, such as Drama Online and Gale collections. This is the first part of a two-part series – we look forward to welcoming her back in June for further insights.


Empowering learning through effective use of eResources: Latymer Upper School

Latymer Upper is an independent and co-educational day school in West London. Over time, we have built up a substantial digital library, including 11 online resources through JCS, to provide students and teachers with high quality, authoritative resources that they can access both within the school premises and remotely, on a range of devices. 

Drama Online is “best-loved”

Drama Online is one of the digital resources we are subscribed to through JCS. As a school with a flourishing drama department with ties to LAMDA, it is one of our best-loved and most used e-resources. Drama Online library has 19 individual collections; we subscribe to the National Theatre Collections 1 & 2, Core & Critical Studies, the Nick Hern Books Modern Plays Collection, and the Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama Video Collection. The collections include playtexts, filmed live performances, film adaptations and audio plays.  

Decorative pictures of the digital resources available via Drama Online library. It includes performance stills from Hedda Gabler, Maxine Peake as Hamlet, and She Stoops to Conquer. There are also 3 book covers: Angels in America and Leave Taking (these are both playtexts), and a critical reader of Macbeth.

An important tool for teaching Drama

The resource has been most valuable, as it gives us access to many of the dramas in our curriculum as well as related materials that the students can study. “When studying a drama like The School for Scandal,” Head of Drama, Justin Joseph explains,we have asked students to watch relevant materials like She Stoops to Conquer, which was written by Goldsmith, a contemporary of Sheridan.” 

The platform is easy to navigate, and it has special tools and features that makes learning engaging and seamless. Our sixth form students use the monologue and scenes feature to prepare for exam on their own.

Teachers also use Drama Online to show students how texts can be staged or how characters are created. When studying Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, drama teacher, Mark Collier, was able to show his students Tamsin Greig’s fantastic interpretation of Malvolio. He has also created a whole scheme of work based on National Theatre’s production of Peter Pan, which hinges on him being able to show students the production.  

Drama Online is an asset across other departments

Drama Online has also been a great asset to other departments in the school. In the words of English teacher, Joe Murray, “Drama Online has the only video of Josie Rourke’s production of Coriolanus which I have found indispensable for teaching the play.”

His fellow English teacher, Madeleine Smith, is also a fan, finding the resource useful for her planning and teaching.  

"Drama Online is a fantastic resource for my own planning and teaching as well as for my students. The breadth of texts covered and the quality of Drama Online's own resources make it a delightful site to use." Testimonial on this eResource from Madeleine Smith, English Teacher at Latymer Upper School.

Classics teacher Becky Wright incorporates key clips from National Theatre productions as a springboard for discussing Greek tragedies and connections with their modern staging with her students. 

Gale in Context Collections and Gale Schools are ideal e-resources for research

Gale in Context, a reference database that offer subject-specific, high quality multimedia resources, helps our students research a wide range of topics across the curriculum.

Decorative photo showing the collections Terri subscribes to from Gale in Context's e-resources: Environmental Studies, Global Issues, Science, Opposing Viewpoints, and World History.

Our years 9 to 11 students take a Global Goals and later, a World Perspective course, which are developed at the school. And Gale in Context, which contains subject-specific collections like Environmental Studies, Global Issues, Science, Opposing Viewpoints and World History -which we are subscribed to  through JCS –  has been useful in supporting students’ learning at this stage.  

For Global Goals, our Year 9 students undertake a research project in which they are required to create a website addressing a global issue and propose how they might solve it. To do this, they must use authoritative sources and references. Teachers have been able to point them to Gale in Context collections and Gale Schools (which covers newspapers, newspaper archives and magazines) for their research, as they are written by subject experts with credible references.  

"Gale Schools provides access to an archive of full-text articles in thousands of English-language publications, which is ideal for research."

The databases provide a friendly landing page for different broad subjects, guiding students to more specific topics to find relevant articles, infographics, and media. I also love demonstrating Gale’s unique Topic Finder tool, which groups search results visually, in a wheel or as tiles, making it easier for students to find the most relevant results and key words associated with that topic.  

There’s more to come

As we wrap up part one of this two-part series, we express our gratitude again to Terri McCargar for her valuable insights. We’ve seen the transformative power of dynamic digital resources in enriching educational experiences. Whether it’s engaging with playtexts or researching closer into global issues, the potential for learner discovery and development is immense. 

Join us here for part two as Terri dives further into the maximization of digital resources at Latymer Upper. She’ll also be providing valuable advice to fellow librarians on effective promotion strategies for digital libraries.