THE SCHOOL LIBRARY
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This assessment was to examine the school library and perhaps it role on the academic performance of students. One important role of the school library is the promotion and development of reading among students. School libraries are often set up to promote quality fiction to build and sustain in students the habit of reading for pleasure and to enrich students’ intellectual, aesthetic, cultural and emotional growth. They serve students by providing materials to meet their various needs and encouraging reading and the use of libraries. Helping students to be information literate in this learning community is the central concern of school librarians. It is these professional librarians that are responsible for the acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval, preservation and dissemination of these information materials. However, there are some challenges facing the smooth operation of school libraries in Nigeria which include acquisition problem, funding, inadequate government support, staffing, etc. it is when these challenges are tackled that there will be effective services in school libraries in Nigeria. It was concluded that school library plays a significant role on students and their future in terms of their reading ability while in school and out of school.
School libraries are established to create a learning environment for scholars and users, it also build a lifelong learning through integrated and innovative approaches to information literacy, critical thinking and creativity. Several studies have demonstrated that school libraries have a positive impact on student academic performance, it also ignite the passion for reading and research into students (Todd, R., 2014). The school library services have evolved since the late 1800s from public or state library book wagons to informal classroom collections to what we know today as online public access catalog (OPAC). The later part of the 19th century marked the beginning of the modern American library movement with the creation of the American Library Association (ALA) in 1876 by a group of librarians led by Melvil Dewey. At these beginning stages of development, the school libraries were primarily made up of small collections with the school librarian playing primarily a clerical role.
A school library is a library within a school where students, staff, and often, parents of a public or private school have access to a variety of resources. The primary aim of a school library media center is to ensure that all members of the school community have equitable access “to books and reading, to information, and to information technology. The goals of any school library program (public or private) should support the mission and continuous improvement plan of the school. Although there are several more convenient and faster channels of getting information today than from the traditional library environment, the school library still plays its uncompromised role in the hearts of students. For instance, there exist a lot of distractions made available online for students who choose online reading to the conventional school library setting. To this end, Dempsey (2015) discusses the importance of thinking about the library in the life of the user instead of the traditional model of thinking of the user in the life of the library.
The present economic climate, has drawn much attention to assessment in school and academic libraries as a means to articulate the value of libraries within the school environment. This assessment involves analyzing the data made available through educational systems to measuring student success, such as retention and GPA, against service and resources provided by the library. It also involves utilizing the information generated by library systems and services, such as web analytics and feedback from those within the academic environment regardless of whether they use the library. If they do use the library, it is imperative to identify how and why they use it? “In order to answer the question, ‘this assessment questions what type of library facilities and services is needed in a modern school library today?
Today, what are expected in a standard school library include computer facilities (computers, scanners, printers, UPS, and power point projectors), computer software resources (online databases, CD-ROMs, library application software, Internet connectivity and storage media), audio-visual media/equipment (satellite connection, radio, television, audio tapes, video tapes, DVD/VCD, digital cameras and photocopiers) and communication media (telephone-intercom and GSM). To this effect, it has become compulsory for every higher institution to obtain annually accreditation from National Universities Commission (NUC) on their library facilities and environment. This accreditation is to ascertain that every university library is well-equipped, updated and equal to the task of disseminating right information for the 21st century scholars. The 21st century school libraries are using current ICTS to modernize their main services, adopt strong and ingenious co-operations and consortia implement management information systems, create institutional stores of digitized local contents and conceived computerized assets, and start ICT based capacity building programmes for library users and its orientation.
The Role of the School Library
A school library is usually set up to provide a range of learning opportunities for both large and small groups as well as individuals with a focus on intellectual content, information literacy, and the learner (Morris, 2004). The role of school libraries is globally accepted as essential in education provision as they provide information and ideas that are fundamental to the educational needs of the students. According to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization‟s (UNESCO) School Library Manifesto, the school library offers information and ideas that are important to enable students to function fully in today’s knowledge society by providing essential information materials. In this process they will become life-long learners and become responsible citizens (IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto, 1999).
The school library also serves as a learning space for students to do independent work, use computers, equipment and research materials, group visits with collaborating teachers; to host special events such as book clubs and for tutoring and testing. School libraries function as a central location for all of the information available, and a school librarian functions as the literary map to the resources and materials found within the library (Felmley, D. 2010). A school library functions as an opportunity for educators to work with librarians in support of a resource center for the students to be able to safely access the internet for both school work and interacting with each other. School libraries provide students with the opportunity to acquire life-long learning skills so they may develop their imagination as well as critical thinking skills. As they use the school library, students acquire the habit of reading and are able to evaluate and use information appropriately (IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto, 1999). School libraries, as learning laboratories, allow students to interact directly with library materials and acquire research skills for future academic pursuits (Unagha, 2008: 3). Moreover, school libraries give students the chance to read about other cultures to broaden their minds, and opportunities for voluntary reading which are crucial for the development of the enjoyment.
A recent Department for Education report on reading (2015) points out, libraries play an important role in children’s reading habits. With public libraries closing at a worrying rate (Wainwright, Bradshaw, Sherlock & Geada, 2016), school libraries are becoming even more important. Many professional bodies and agencies have turned their focus towards school libraries in recent years. Reviews and studies can be found analysing topics such as the importance of school libraries, their impact on pupils’ achievement, successful libraries, and the future of these libraries. School libraries are a timely topic because of the changes in the education system. As a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Libraries in 2014 highlights:
“School libraries and school library provision are at a critical juncture. In a time of educational reform, financial constraints and devolution of decision-making powers, every aspect of school life has to demonstrate its value to the wellbeing and attainment of the pupils in school.”
The CILIP report (Streatfield, Shaper & Rae-Scott, 2010) also highlights the essential role school libraries play in helping pupils in their learning and in equipping them to function effectively in an increasingly competitive electronic environment. The growth of the internet and access to e-publications and e-resources means greater than ever demands on the information-handling capacities of pupils, including their ability to read a variety of formats (Streatfield, Shaper & Rae-Scott, 2010). In addition, as both pupils and teachers discover new ways to use technology to collaborate, teach and learn, school libraries can promote and facilitate the learning of evolving 21st century core skills (Scholastic, 2016).
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