Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Back in 2017 I wrote this blog post and it has been viewed over 35,000 times I did not feel that I could leave it behind on my old blog. In essence it goes to the heart of everything I believe about the the advocacy of school libraries. I want it to be shared with schools and teachers everywhere so if it gets a few more views here then great. If you have read it before I hope you enjoy it again, if you are new here then this is what I wrote.
How often have you walked past your school library and never given a second thought to the person who works in that room? Or you notice that there are students in there reading books and working on the computers and think 'that's nice'. You may even encourage your students to go and choose a book occasionally and think that you are doing your bit.
What if someone suddenly said that your school library was closing and the room was going to become a gym. Would you really be upset by the loss of such a resources or would you secretly not be all that bothered? Do you ever think about the person who is working in there who is desperate to help you and your students? Do you ever wonder why that person is constantly trying to stop you in the corridor when you are busy? Do you understand the opportunities you are missing?
You have the power in your hands to open your eyes to change. Is it time to take stock and think about what your school library means to you as a teacher? The school library is there for you as well as your students and are you missing out on something that may make your teaching life easier?
Ask yourself these questions:-
When was the last time I went to the school library?
When was the last time I talked to the school library staff about my curriculum?
Do I know what the library staff can do for me and my students?
When was the last time I looked at the resources for my subject or encouraged my students to do the same?
Do I know what online resources are available for my subject?
If you don't know the answer to any or all of the above questions then I would encourage you to approach your library staff and start the conversation. Teaching was never meant to be something you do on your own and working with the library staff may just be the thing that is missing from your teaching.
Did you know that the school library:-
Can provide you with free resources for your subject that will relieve the pressure on your departmental budget and even your own pocket.
Can provide space for these resources in the library so that your classroom is not full of resources that you only need once a year.
Can provide resources on request - yes, if the budget is there they will buy books for you!
Can provide online resources that are subject specific.
Can proved a space outside your classroom for you to teach.
Did you know that the library staff can:-
teach research skills - referencing, plagiarism etc.
teach digital literacy - online research, digital tools, Google searching
teach digital citizenship - social media, online collaboration etc.
connect you with other educators, schools and professionals around the world
support and train you in using new online tools
If you need more ideas, don't just take my word for it there are many school library staff out there willing to share ideas with you. Take a look at these amazing blogs
Read research rest repeat by Kathleen Curry Smith
Library Media Talk by Stony Evans
Library Stuff by Barbara Band
Heart of the School by Caroline Roche
Over the last few years I have noticed that teachers are being encouraged more and more to use technology within the classroom. There are those that have moved into this world comfortably, who can use Google responsibly and understand how to navigate it well, demonstrating to their students the skill needed to do this properly. Teachers who are comfortable in this digital world are also happy to connect their students through hangouts and online digital tools like flipgrid and padlet but there are so many more that are not.
Are you a teacher reading this that has never heard of flipgrid or padlet? Does the thought of having another class from across the world talk to your students fill you with dread? Are you unsure how to teach your students how to access academic resources? Would you like more books in your classroom? Would you like support? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then next time you walk by your school library don't pass walk in and say hello.