A local primary school librarian has been making waves with her pupil literacy research and is being invited to present her findings at New Zealand's first Research by Librarians for Librarians Symposium in Auckland.

But it has not been all smooth sailing for Ngakuru School librarian Fran Knapman who had to halt her studies when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mrs Knapman will graduate next week, 10 years after starting her study, with a Bachelor of Library and Information Studies.

"After a while I thought it would be silly not to continue studying so I picked it up again ... Now that it's all done I feel like it is a big weight off my shoulders."


For her last research-based paper, she investigated the link between a pupil's reading achievement and the number of books they took out from the library.

The study was school-wide and led Mrs Knapman to discover the link was real, also noting pupil achievement was tied to the genre of book issued.

The day Mrs Knapman handed in her final assignment was the same day she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in her lymph gland.

"I knew the lump was not good so went to the doctor the day I handed my assignment in. I'm just taking each day as it comes.

"I had hoped to continue my research but I am proud of what I have done, I wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of the staff and [principal] Grant [Henderson] at Ngakuru, and my husband who read my research even though he probably found it quite boring."

Mrs Knapman, invited by the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, will present her findings on May 27 at Auckland University of Technology.

She said she was "pretty stunned" when asked to present at the symposium.

"I was especially stunned when I saw the other presenters on the programme, there were associate professors and scholars then Fran Knapman from Ngakuru," she added.

"But at the end of the day I thought why not. Life is short so we've got to say yes to opportunities. What's the worst that is going to happen?"