Posted by: eheino | May 28, 2013

The death of school library collections?

School library collections are not dying.

Many people have argued that the ‘net generation’ are post-literate, without any interest in print material, preferring to get their information and entertainment from digital sources. It is for exactly that reason that school library collections are more important than ever.
Unlike many other types of libraries, school library patrons are under a compulsion to be a part of a learning community, and the library collection is central to that need. Because all patrons are frequently present in the library, school library collections are in the unique situation of being able to provide multi-sensory resources to their patrons. (Mitchell, 2013)

It may be true that traditional collections aren’t providing students with all the resources they need, but many school library collections are evolving to become the information hub of the school. To avoid becoming obsolete some things the collection needs to do are:
• include a mix of physical and digital resources
• be accessible 24 hours a day at home and at school via a password protected catalogue
• include fiction that is engaging for post literate students such as comics and graphic novels
• include a capacity for patrons to contribute temporarily to the collection

Today library staff are more important than ever because they possess the knowledge to empower students with the ability to successfully search for new information. Teacher-librarians are specialist staff members that are in the best position to teach information literacy schools in collaboration with classroom teachers.

Some people have questioned the need for a physical library collection’s existence in a world where most students expect to be able to access information anywhere, anytime. Today’s libraries are the only place where traditional, new and emerging technologies can meet in a centralised location which supports today’s social and educational patterns of learning (Freeman 2005). In education today there is significant emphasis on students’ ability to collaborate, to give them the ability to do this in the workplace. The school library is the perfect location for these collaborations to take place.

So while it may be the case that the traditional view of a school library and its collection is dying out, it does not signal the death of school libraries as a whole. The collection and its staff need to adapt to the changes in technologies and demands from students to provide a total information management system (Wade, 2005) for their students.

Reference list:
Freeman, G. (2005). Chapter 1 (pp. 1-9) The Library as Place: Changes in Learning Patterns, Collections, Technology, and Use. In Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space, Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington, D.C.

Mitchell, P. (2013). The school library collection in the context of teaching and learning and the digital environment [ETL503 Module 1.2]. Retrieved May 28th 2013 from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL503_201330_W_D/page/cc27bbe6-e6e0-4c57-0010-f556b9fde7d2

Wade, C. (2005). The school library : phoenix or dodo bird? Educational Horizons, 8(5),
12-14.

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