Sunday, February 8, 2015

School Libraries

I still remember my school librarian from primary school. It didn't matter what time you went into the library, she was always there ready to help. She was warm and friendly, just like the library. My friend's mum was a teacher librarian at a neighbouring school. She wore a rainbow clown wig just like Margaret Mahy and had the most amazing dress-ups that she used as part of her storytelling. Both had different approaches to librarianship but both people have stuck in my memory.

So what is going to happen to school libraries in the future? The idea has been floated with our re-build that there might not be a centralised library but bookshelves spread amongst the school. I am not quite sure how I feel about that. I already miss the fact that we don't actually have a librarian at our school! Are we moving towards more digital resources? The Government seems to think so. The changes to the National Library Service are ridiculous. We can't even order subject specific books any more to help boost our own stock. It's not that I don't believe in reading for pleasure (see my last post) but the NLS is an amazing resource for schools and this just does not do it justice.

My own beliefs about school libraries is that they should be a hub for learning. Whether reading for pleasure, finding resources/information, a makerspace, a drama space, a community space to meet. A teacher librarian would be the cherry on the top, somebody who made sure that the space was a living, breathing, learning space. Somebody like Alison Hewett who to me embodies what a good librarian should be. She loves books and she wants students to love books too. I've been following Alison on twitter for awhile now and love engaging in discussion with her around reading and books. Imagine how much influence she would have on my practice if she was the librarian at my school!

The space itself needs to be whimsical and full of wonder - just like books. It also needs spaces to curl up into, spaces to spread out, spaces to sit with a friend, and spaces to be a group. There needs to be access to digital resources too including audiobooks and podcasts. Libraries should hum with people using them.

It will be interesting to see what comes up in the school consultation about libraries. I wonder how other people view the role of libraries in the future of schools?