Library

Why our school library is important!

Sue Austin

A Library is a great place to escape from the world we live in. Books open up a whole new world for children, but we, as adults and educators, have to encourage them to open up the book in the first place. With a place like a library we are able to pick up another world and dive into it. The ways in which libraries fulfil the spirit, body and mind are amazing in themselves. Our world may see different technologies take it over and new inventions aid us in simple tasks, but nothing will replace books in the task of teaching us all about life.

School libraries are an integral part of the school curriculum. The following are some reasons why.

  • They foster a love of literature and in turn encourage independent reading.
  • School libraries provide teachers and students with up-to-date resources in a variety of media formats and readability levels that are aligned with the curriculum.
  • They continually monitor collections and develop directions and priority areas to effectively resource the curriculum within budget targets.
  • The school library provides access to information resources beyond the existing school-based collection.
  • School libraries foster and encourage the getting of information, the use of information, knowledge, computing, reading, independence and academic achievement.
  • They provide and promote quality fiction to develop and sustain in students that habit and enjoyment of reading for pleasure and to enrich students’ intellectual, aesthetic, cultural and emotional growth.
  • Studies have proven that reading for pleasure has been found to increase vocabulary, comprehension, verbal fluency and levels of general knowledge.
  • They encourage students to acquire skills to collect, critically analyse and organise information, problem solve and communicate their understandings. 
  • Libraries cater for differences in learning and teaching styles through the provision of a wide range of materials, both fiction and non-fiction.
  • There is a compelling link between a well resourced school library and student achievement.
  • The internet is among a number of resources available for finding information, but is not a replacement for books.
  • There is no equivalent replacement to the library, which provides mountains of content that is not available through search engines, which only provide snippets and links to retailers.
  • The amazing amount of useful information found on the net has engendered the false assumption that everything can be found online – this simply not true! Many authors and publishers will not allow their works to be freely accessible over the internet. Current copyright law protects works for 70 years from the death of the author. Eg: Wuthering Heights may be available on the internet, but Harry Potter won’t be for at least another 70 plus years!
  • The internet is a mass of largely unpublished materials produced by organisations, businesses, individuals and experimental projects. Wikipedia, for example, can be amended by any individual regardless of the quality and veracity of the information.
  • Some public domain works (non-fiction) are also off limits. For example, if an out of copyright work includes prefaces or introductions that are still in copyright, the whole work is copyrighted.
  • Studies have shown that students who frequent well-stocked libraries end up with higher results than those who do not.
  • Jens Redner (Google Book Search’s European Director) says that “The majority of information lies outside the internet”. Even where the internet does provide actual content, the information is often snack-sized and a sort of quick reference browsing.
  • The role of library staff is to not only maintain the library, shelving and cataloguing etc, but to guide and educate students on how to find information, regardless of whether it is in book or digital form.
  • As radio is still popular despite TV, film is still in high demand despite DVD’s and the telephone is still popular despite emails, so too, people who like paper books will continue to read paper books, despite the net.
  • The highly social nature of the net makes it susceptible to sensationalised, low-quality information, with the sole merit of being popular. A library contains books and information that is nothing less than high calibre, published material. Books found in libraries have been published under rigorous guidelines of citation and accuracy. These standards are not imposed on websites.
  • Libraries are not influenced by online advertising and therefore their way of providing information will be less influenced by corporate interests. 
  • Not everyone can afford to buy books. Libraries are the best way for students to find new worlds within the cover of a book.

CONCLUSION

Libraries can adapt to social and technological changes, but they cannot be replaced. Instead of regarding libraries as obsolete, schools should increase funding for improved technologies, so that both the internet and books can work hand in hand to provide the best quality information available.