Protect school libraries with the #ShoutAbout campaign

By Chris Leslie

Make your voice heard and shout about school libraries! This week, the School Library Association explains the driving principles behind their new campaign to protect school library services.


SHOUT ABOUT School Libraries is a national campaign uniting groups working to promote school library services. 

Recent media emphasis has been predominantly upon the risk of closure of public libraries but we are now campaigning for the benefits of school libraries to be available to all young people. At present provision is patchy. A recent study for the Times Education Supplement (TES) found that some 600,000 children no longer had access to a Schools Library Service. Once a service like this is cut it is well-nigh impossible to regenerate after the resources have been scattered to the four winds.

In Scotland we are blessed as most of the education authorities are committed to appointing full time professional librarians in each secondary school. These professionals are trained to help clients to find the most relevant information in a large range of formats. Primary schools, however, depend upon the resources of the school library services across the country and this is a service currently vulnerable to cuts. Teachers rely upon this service to help provide them with the vibrant, exciting resources necessary to support their teaching.

A library should be more than a room of books. The Librarian brings the dynamism, displaying resources to maximum effect, weeding out the tatty stock, adding new attractive titles and the ‘must reads of this term. They bring the book shelves to life with books leaping off the shelves into enthusiastic waiting arms. Without the Librarian’s input how will pupils develop and sustain the love of books and reading so carefully nurtured in the nursery classes across the country?

Why do we need a Librarian now we’ve got the Internet? That is a question often asked by the misinformed. I sometimes wonder how we ever managed without it; reference books are often very expensive! Young people have access to knowledge at the click of a button but they do not know how to manage it. Critical literacy involves ensuring that the information to be used is written at an appropriate level and checking dates and authenticity of publication. It involves sifting 60 million hits down into a manageable list of worthwhile resources and not “I’ll just use Wikipedia”. It entails equipping pupils to do more than copy and paste and to acknowledge the sources of their information. These skills are generally taught in schools by the librarian. This is another reason for us to SHOUT ABOUT School Libraries, equipping our young people with the skills for the 21st Century. We all watch in admiration as their fingers tinkle across the keyboard and their cursor flies around the screen but digital native is not necessarily information savvy!

The professional organisations are all supporting SHOUT ABOUT School Libraries. You can add your voice too.  Tell everyone you know how great libraries and librarians are and the vital role resource providers provide in education both in Scotland and across the UK. The leaders need to know how much school library services are valued. Librarians have been there, quietly providing quality resources for decades. Now is the time to stand up and SHOUT ABOUT what we do. Use the website for further information and use the Twitter hash tag #SHOUTABOUT.


 

Please let us know your thoughts about the campaign below!

The partners involved in the campaign include the Association of Senior Children's and Education Librarians (ASCEL), the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the School Library Association (SLA).

If you are aware of exciting practice going on in school libraries and want to publicise it for the campaign, why not email us to see if we can feature it? 

Have a look at blogs by Kateri Wilson and Chris Morrison, showcasing some great work in school libraries!

 

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