A well-resourced School Library managed by skilled professional Library staff can be and is at the heart of a school. There’s no need to hold a cremation just yet!
I was alerted to your recent blog post – School Libraries RIP? through my RSS app NetWireNews on my iPhone and I am very happy reading e-text on mobile devices. I am also at the forefront of e-learning in my school -introducing class blogging and other web 2 tools to students and teachers to facilitate our teaching and learning. The development of the interactive book on the iPad really excites me But much as I love “New Technology” there is still an important place for books in the school library!
Our library does indeed have a lot less books than a school library of the past but books continue to be extremely popular. Here are some statistics to prove my point. We have 650 students in Kingswood Senior School but in the last 4 weeks the Library staff have
- loaned 427 books (60% fiction and 40% information titles)
- purchased 42 books as a result of requests for titles from individual students
- already lent 700 books and DVD’s that are still out on loan to students
- loaned books to 84% of the current student community
- facilitated 83 class visits for research using books and computers
No student has ever been made to borrow a book and there are no regular “library reading lessons” through the English Department. Neither do these statistics tell the full story. We can’t quantify the number of novels, graphic novels and manga read by students every day as they sprawl on the beanbags in the library at lunchtime or after school. What we can say is that there are over 100 different students coming through the doors every day in their ”free” time. The well-thumbed copies of Top Gear, Rugby World and New Scientist tell their own story. As does the copy of Eating Disorders: real life issues I found hidden under one of the shelves yesterday afternoon.
Books are successful in libraries when staff know what their customers will enjoy and supply it!
It’s very hard to “browse” on a Kindle. Amazon makes suggestions based on what you’ve read in the past. Good old Google learns what your searching habits are and returns results based on them. On the other hand browsing a bookshelf can be a subversive mind-broadening activity. It’s a place where students can learn what they didn’t even know they’d like to learn. World history shows us that libraries have always been the home of creative thinkers.
Books are successful in libraries when they relate to the current curriculum and teaching staff exploit them for independent learning.
This week Year 7′s have been researching life in medieval castles. They used the library catalogue to find books, websites and TV programmes to complete their task. But the books were the best resources by far. The books are written for a range of reading ages providing differentiation for students of varying abilities,are quick and easy to consult and brilliant for getting an overview of the topic. In March these students will be visiting some castles on a day trip and I have been invited , as usual, by our History department to share in that experience. So it’s all about co-operation and respect between library and teaching staff to make a success of resources in libraries.
Books are successful in libraries when they complement digital media
Students borrow Baking made Easy because the chef Lorraine Pascale is demonstrating the recipes on TV right now. Students enjoy reading The Gallagher Girls spy stories because there is an active Facebook FanPage right now. The staff love the “We’re reading with the Costa Book Awards” promotion because the books are being discussed in the newspapers and online right now.
As I write this post a sixth form student has just come and asked to me to buy a book “everyone” is talking about. It’s called The Perks of Being a Wallflower. What an intriguing title. I must go and look it up on Amazon and order it in time for next day delivery!
School Libraries RIP? Books RIP? I think not
P.S. Some more food for thought from a former School Librarian of the Year -No Libraries are not dead yet