Monday, 27 October 2014

Libraries are not just books

Desna Wallace, Librarian Fendalton Open-Air School
Twitter @edna33,

We all know teaching and learning are changing everyday but it is not just in the classroom that changes are happening. When was the last time you had a good look at your school library and the changes happening within?

Libraries are no longer just a place to house books with a gatekeeper glaring at you the moment you start talking. Today they are vibrant, often noisy places with full-on learning and activity. While students are able to borrow books as always, they now can borrow e-books and audio books. A good school library management system and OPAC provides access to so much information, much of it through databases not otherwise publicly available. EPIC databases, for example, guide students through an array of information with the hard work already done. For younger students the advantage is that the sites are safe and secure.

A modern learning library environment offers the flexibility of movable shelves, open spaces, use of Ipads, laptops, smart phones and the like. QR codes plastered on the walls or inside a book can take students with just one click or swipe, to reviews of the book, or websites with further information. School library blogs and websites can offer support both at school and home. Lunch times in a school library might hold book clubs, creative writing classes and even knitting clubs. Both classroom teachers and librarians need to work together with the new technologies to provide the best opportunities for our students to learn and encourage a love of reading. 

A good library needs a librarian who is willing to support students in their search for a great read, a new author or help in navigating the Internet. A good librarian knows their stock and knows their students and can match child and book or website together. A good librarian offers support to teaching staff, often being ahead of the game with content curation and compiling items, websites etc in readiness for a topic. So it saddens me that there are many schools without a librarian. It saddens me more, that some schools do not even have a library. 

For some schools without a library it seems that books will be placed throughout the classrooms or learning environments (which is great as classrooms should always have plenty of reading material available). However, sadly there is still no special place to visit. A library is far more than just books. It is a safe haven for those students who don’t do sports, the child who struggles with the social skills to fit in but feels safest in the library, surrounded by books and a librarian who will watch out for him or her. 

Having spoken to a number of teachers from different schools, there is a distinct feeling that the school library is such a special place to visit that the loss of a library would be devastating. I asked them, would they take time in their busy day to sit in a corner of their class and look at the books and encourage children to take some home. Their answer was a unanimous no. They love visiting a library , checking out the displays, new items, and the chatter as children pick up a book, talking amongst themselves over the latest Guinness World Records. Choice does matter, serendipity matters. A five year old relegated to only the books in his class may miss out on the opportunity to find a book that will be one he remembers for a life time.

Keep your librarians, and keep your libraries. We all want the same thing at the end of the day; children who grow up literate, able to learn, able to take ownership of their own learning having a love of reading.

Popcorn and poetry for National Poetry Day - from:

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! My class evidently love spending time in the library, even their precious lunch time as this wonderful photo demonstrates. Thanks for sharing!