What is it about School Libraries?

school Libraries

What is it about School Libraries? What makes them vital for some and irrelevant for others? How is it possible that so many are closing down?

What aspect makes them essential?

Is it the librarian’s ability to pass on the necessary information literacy to staff and students?

Is it the relevant reading material (in all formats) assessable to both?

Is it just a quiet space for study, or a venue for presentations and meetings?

Is it the enthusiasm and love of reading (both librarian and students)?

or is it more…? A safe place, a haven, therapy, a world of wonder…

The closing of a school library . . .

I received sad news recently, the school library I worked in for 9 years has temporarily closed. Doors shut until possible renovations occur later in the year. The same renovations that were on the table every year, but never materialised.

The library’s size, utilities, and decor may not meet the expectations of an elite private school, but it was functional. And has been functional for two decades.

Update 4 April 2017: I have just heard that this school’s library will remain closed indefinitely following the management’s decision not to fill the school librarian position.

The school library world . . .

While I try hard not to take it personally – that despite my efforts my role was superfluous and the library’s potential may never be realised. I can only hope that reason will dawn on the school management before it’s too late and hundreds of children miss the opportunity to be wowed by stories.

A world where their school librarian, who reads the books they read, can participate in, and instigates book chats. Where the librarian takes recommendations from the students as well as making recommendations, not just to the class as a whole, but to the individuals whose reading needs are unique. Where learning difficulties and the need for spot-on bibliotherapy is are not only understood but actively catered for.

Fight for it . . .

To any parents and teachers who face a school library closure. Fight for it. Fight for the rights of your children who will only know what they are missing once they no longer have access, once it is too late and reading for pleasure is a foreign concept.

Reach out . . .

To the students who temporarily use the library as a safe haven from toxic friendships and bullying, those who need a space to come to terms with family troubles, to reflect quietly on their troubles they may not be ready to confide, please know someone cares. Reach out and find an alternate safe place.

Undiscovered school librarians . . . 

The lack of suitably qualified school librarians in your area is not an excuse to close a school library. All that is needed is to find someone (perhaps a parent?) with the enthusiasm and passion for reading and children. Someone who is who is willing to learn. Give them the opportunity afforded me, a former nurse, send them on training courses, encourage formal study (by correspondence if necessary) and make active cooperation with other school librarians possible. It can be done. Even if it’s a temporary solution.

3 Comments

  • Corinne Mullins

    I was a school librarian for 20 years, teaching information literacy, running a book club, organising author visits, giving book talks, doing one to one recommendations and making the library the heart of the school. Just like you. When I retired they did not replace me. The library is now manned by one of the secretaries in her spare time. I could weep….

  • Kimberly Sabatini

    I especially love how you know the library is a safe haven for so many kids. <3

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