Why do we need a Great School Libraries campaign? by @ElizabetHutch

The 20th September 2018 is fast approaching and I am very excited. CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and SLG (School Libraries Group) and the SLA (School Library Association) are getting together to launch The Great School Libraries campaign with the following aims and objectives:

• Recognition of School Libraries/Librarians in Ofsted Inspection Framework
• Creation of a School Library Strategy for England
• Specific investment into School Library development

What this does, is allow us to start talking about what good school libraries with access to professional librarians can do to support teaching and learning. We need to help schools understand that their librarians are not just about reading and literacy. Not that this isn’t important, it is, but there is so much that school librarians can offer that many schools are unaware of.

School librarians are information professionals, who can support and teach information, critical and digital literacy skills. Research skills from finding books via your school library catalogue to researching academic online resources such as Science in Context, helping students to navigate those online tools that can’t be searched with a question (like they like do in Google), explaining and using keywords, creating good research questions and guiding them onto the internet searching with the knowledge and skills about how to do this safely.

School librarians teach website evaluation and how to spot misinformation (fake news). They teach students how to give credit for what they find and use, how to write it in their own words and how to create bibliographies. I have often heard that teachers do not have time for this so this is why school librarians offer it. Some of us even help with the assessment of this.

These skills are essential to our students of today and school librarians are poised and ready to support teachers and their students to learn them. Research by Williams, Wavell and Morrison shows that when teachers and librarians collaborate then academic attainment increases so this campaign will allow more teachers to access the resources and support that they need (2013).

Why do we need a campaign? We believe that every child deserves the right to have a good school library. Why should some have access to lots of books and online resources and a professional to support them whilst others don’t? This campaign will highlight the benefits of having a good school library on literacy, reading and research skills, which will ultimately affect students’ chances of future jobs and their role in society.

WILLIAMS, D., WAVELL, C. and MORRISON, K., 2013. Impact of School Library Services on Learning. Aberdeen: School of Information and Media. The Robert Gordon University.

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About Elizabethutch 10 Articles
Elizabeth Hutchinson is a Chartered Librarian and Fellow of CILIP. She worked for the Guernsey Schools’ Library Service from 2003 and was appointed Head of Service in 2014. She is now a trainer and Adviser for school libraries and an advocate for FOSIL- Inquiry-based Learning. She was awarded the BEM for services to libraries in 2020, is an international speaker, blogger and author of a number of published articles. She is the founder of an online CPD forum for school library staff and teachers called #LibraryStaffLoveLearning.
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