As a teacher librarian, this quote resonated strongly with me when I saw it on Twitter. It comes from the article “Why We Need School Libraries” by Alan Gibbons an English author of children’s books and an educational consultant. Alan is a passionate advocate for reading and the vital role of libraries and teacher librarians.
I am incredibly fortunate to work in a brand new school library that was built with the BER funding. We moved from a 28 year old, tired, double portable classroom into a large, bright, open and modern space. Even though the two library spaces are in total contrast physically, their essence is the same. Both libraries have been much more than a room; they have both maintained a strong relationship with students, staff and parents and each library has encouraged, nurtured and valued a culture of reading at our school. The vital link between the two libraries is that there has always been a teacher librarian.
My principal values reading highly and as a result our primary school has a library and even rarer, a full-time teacher librarian. However, in the current climate I often find myself wondering what would become of our library if in the near future we have a principal who decides the school doesn’t need a teacher librarian. Instead, the classroom teacher takes the class to the library for borrowing once a week. Will our library still be a vibrant and welcoming space that is a celebration of books and reading and a place of creativity, inquiry and learning or simply a room full of books? Will the culture of reading we have developed be maintained? What impact would this have on learning at our school?
If there is no longer a teacher librarian who will…
- Greet students with a smile and welcome them by name as they enter the library
- Create a warm, vibrant and welcoming space that is open to all and a haven for many
- Provide spaces where reading can be shared and social or done alone snuggled in a bean bag
- Purchase books that will inspire; fuel imaginations; enable walking in others’ shoes; foster an understanding of self; and move readers to laugh, cry and ponder
- Expose students to a variety of illustrators and explore the power of visual images
- Read and skilfully bring books to life with genuine love, appreciation and knowledge
- Enthusiastically talk about and recommend books
- Make reading fun and positive
- Take time to match students to the ‘right book’ to meet their needs and interests
- Organise books to make them appealing and easy to browse and access
- Design activities where literature can be explored, discussed and brought to life in various ways
- Encourage and celebrate reading with Book Fairs, Book Week, Author visits, Premiers Reading Challenge and other fun reading events
- Teach students skills needed to access, use and present information ethically
- Plan with teachers and provide resources for classroom reading and inquiry
- Believe in and promote the power of reading for enjoyment and learning
“It is not enough to have a school library, however clean and airy and stuffed with books, e-readers, computers and tablets. A library without a librarian …is a room” Alan Gibbons