“Look, I… I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am.”
“And what is that?”
“I… am a librarian.”
I say it loud and I say it proud regularly – I am a school librarian. To call myself that I had to gain a post-graduate degree in Information and Library Studies and charter with my professional body CILIP. I have worked as a school librarian for 7 years and I am secretary for the School Library Association (Scotland).
So it is with the weight of all this knowledge and experience that I say that the school library is more than just books and it is under threat.
A room filled with books and computers dosen’t make a library. Librarians and School Library Support make a library – they are vital to running a successful and innovative school library and it’s these that are being ‘trimmed’ across the country in council budget cuts.
My job is to inspire a love of reading and learning and support students to learn key information literacy and study skills that will, ultimately, help them throughout the rest of their lives. This is needed now more than ever. I just did a survey of my pupils at Easter and there is a desperate need for improved Information Literacy skills across the school. 1 in 3 of all first year pupils can’t find what they want online and 1 in 10 in sixth year can’t either. It’s not just the pupils I have had staff struggle to find a range of things online and asking me for help or recommending poor quality websites to pupils as acceptable places for information.
I believe that every student and member of staff has the right to access useful and well-selected library resources and to get support from a qualified librarian at any point of the school day. I believe that the library should be open to everyone all day during the school term and be a welcoming and helpful space that places research and learning at its heart.
I work both alongside and to support fellow staff to support our students. To do this I require a wide range of skills, from social worker, book expert and walking encyclopaedia to educator, role model and computing trouble-shooter, and much more besides. I’ve shared an example of my day before and every day requires me to multi-task and act in many roles.
I believe that full-time, qualified librarians in our schools are essential to ensure students learn how to handle information, avoid plagiarism and develop a love of reading. These essential literacy skills are required not only by a Curriculum for Excellence but also, increasingly, by today’s society. It doesn’t matter if you want to buy tickets for a concert or research a university paper the skills are the same.
School libraries are increasingly finding staffing and budgets cut, school library services closed or greatly reduced. As budgets tighten in local councils and yet more cuts have to be made school library services remain at risk. Scotland is not alone in facing these problems School Library Services are at risk across the country and a lobby has been arranged at Westminster on the 29th of October to raise this issue with the UK government.
In support of this The School Library Association (Scotland) are lobbying the Scottish Parliament on Saturday 27th October 2012 at 11am.
So why am I telling you this? I want you to join us.
- I want you to come down the Scottish Parilament with us and show your support for School libraries.
- I want you to ‘like’ the facebook page and get more information
- I want you to lobby your MSP (there is a draft letter here you can use)
- Tweet your support with the hash tag #lobby4schlibrary
and, finally, I want you to share this with everyone you know – spread the word – school libraries matter, they change lives and are key to a successful school!