Many primary schools have libraries, but often these potentially fantastic sources of inspiration and imagination are not utilised properly. No one’s really in charge of them and children receive little guidance on what they might enjoy reading. Some schools have no libraries at all – it’s argued that they are a luxury which simply can’t be budgeted for.
It’s no surprise then that schools with libraries and librarians to run them are evangelical about the benefits. It’s a lot more common in private schools than state, and in secondary schools rather than primary, even though we all know how important it is to start the reading bug while young. However, some state schools are determined to hang onto people whom they find inspirational.
Last month Lucy Bakewell, from Hill West Primary School in Sutton Coldfield was announced as the School Librarian of the Year. It was the first time a librarian from a primary school had won the award.
“Today, when schools are striving to raise standards in reading and writing, we need champions to place themselves at the heart of school strategies. Their aim – to engage pupils in and enthuse them about books.
It is the most exciting time in history to be a school librarian. Never has there been a better point in time to create effective information centres for our children. Ones that play a crucial role in raising attainment, creating readers and developing skills for life.
With the advent of the internet, much funding for libraries has been reduced. Some have even suggested that libraries are no longer a viable facility in schools and are replacing them with ICT suites: ‘Why do we need a library when we can find all the information we want on the internet?’
Although it cannot be denied that the internet is an incredibly powerful research aid, it cannot replace the personalised service or information delivered by more traditional hands on approach. Even in the most modest of school libraries, every resource has been quality controlled, assessed, catalogued and sorted for easy access. Therein lies the necessity of a skilled Librarian.
It takes a truly dedicated individual to create an inspiring school library. The job is not to create the ‘perfect’ library, but to create the perfect library for the individual school’s needs. To do this the school librarian has to wear many hats: teacher, information specialist, administrator, promoter, advisor and most importantly inspirer.
I believe that school librarians change lives by supporting learning and teaching in their schools. It is fundamental to capture children’s interest and imagination at a young age and make them passionate about reading. Reading is so important in children’s development, expanding their imagination, knowledge and their vocabulary.
The school librarian’s knowledge and enthusiasm for books puts them in a unique position to engage the children they interact with. They are able to promote reading and bring stories to life through many different means: themed events, author visits, reading initiatives, book awards to name but a few.
A school library belongs to the pupils that visit it. It is a sanctuary for reading and inspiration and a place where librarians can help children become truly information literate in an individually tailored way, through a mixture of traditional and new methods.
as cited from School Gate magazine, November 2, 2009