What are your memories of your school library? Was it a quiet place of respite during lunchtime at a busy school? Or perhaps it was when you first discovered the joy of The Babysitters Club, Anne of Green Gables or The Outsiders? More than ever before, school libraries and librarians play a key role in school life. This week on School Stream, we celebrate the role of school libraries and the passionate teacher librarians and staff who run them.
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School Libraries – the joys and benefits of reading
It goes without saying that we all want kids and teens to read, and research shows that visiting a library actively encourages reading, and even creates a positive attitude towards it. School libraries are the heart and soul of a school, and play a crucial role in supporting students’ reading and broader academic success. The role of librarians is complex and multifaceted, but at the heart of it all, librarians are champions of reading and literature.
“Every school needs a school library—it’s a no-brainer. Reading underlies every area of the curriculum and the key is having a well-stocked school library and a passionate school librarian who can put the right book into the right hands at the right time.”
Reading helps you retain knowledge, trains the brain to help with information recall, widens vocabulary in a way that lasts, and helps develop critical and analytical thinking skills. School librarians, especially teacher librarians, also have a big role to play when it comes to supporting struggling readers.
Reading your way to wellbeing
So, while creating engaged readers has clear and obvious benefits when it comes to academic outcomes, there are overall wellbeing gains to be celebrated too. Reading for the sheer love of it is linked to mental wellbeing and other studies have shown that avid childhood readers tend to make healthy choices during their teen years. Reading is also thought to increase emotional intelligence, reduce stress, contribute to personal growth and development and help you relax. If you’ve ever been lost in a good book, you understand only too well the value of a momentary escape from the pressures of a busy life, and the same is true for kids and teens too.
A quiet place in a busy school
School Libraries are democracy in action – freedom to read! They are a safe harbour in the storm of adolescence, where all students deserve a safe space to discover, ponder and grow.
When kids and teens are lost at school, the library is often the only place where they can go to feel safe and not so conspicuously alone. A recent study from June 2021 found:
“Students also appreciated how libraries provided a space for relaxing and recharging, supporting lively and social activities as well as quietude. There was recognition of the role of supportive library staff, who created inviting and supportive environments with careful selection of furnishings and decorations.”
The days of “Shhhh. Quiet, please.” may be well and truly over now, but the school library will always feel like a quiet, safe place to a student seeking refuge and respite from the lunchtime storm.
School Libraries help students become discerning users of information
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”
Neil Gaiman (author and enthusiastic advocate for all things reading, library and librarian related).
We are all very much entrenched in the age of the information economy – whether we like it or not! Today’s students have access to more information more easily than ever before. Luckily, school libraries and the passionate staff who run them are digital literacy experts who can explicitly teach the skills necessary to evaluate digital resources, websites, conduct effective research and how to be a good digital citizen. Essentially, all the skills students will need to thrive in the 21st Century.
“Thriving school libraries led by qualified teacher librarians develop 21st century citizens who can locate, evaluate and use information effectively. International and domestic data abounds which confirms that a qualified teacher librarian improves student learning outcomes (including higher NAPLAN scores) regardless of students’ socioeconomic status…. teacher librarians enhance digital and information literacy, resource the curriculum and help students become critical, creative and collaborative thinkers.”
Thank you, School Librarians!
A big thank you to all the school librarians who are creating enthusiastic readers and sharing their knowledge to make sure all kids and teens can thrive.
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