Thursday, June 28, 2012

School Libraries in Teaching and Learning for All

This is part two of the paper I read during the ASDAL Conference's special session for Adventist school librarians.
Literacy Development through School Libraries: The Sambat Trust School Library Project

Sambat Trust is a UK based charity whose project on school library development in Tanauan, Batangas has benefitted seven schools in the town. Since 2007, Sambat Trust has involved the community, barangay officials and parents, in setting up a school library for the children in seven barangays in Tanauan. School leaders speak of the impact the libraries have made in the lives of pupils and students, so far. 

Dr. Carandang (District Supervisor, North Tanauan) believes that libraries develop confidence among students. She notices that students become confident if they see that their school has a library and other facilities. She narrates that a few years ago, she could tell which kid is from the bukid (farm) or mountain by examining their appearance. The bukid (farm) kid usually looks down and has diffident eyes. But now, students from the bukid (farm) can look straight and has more confidence. She attributes this to Sambat Trust Foundation’s project of installing libraries. She also recalls that before, the students and the teachers hide during school visits, announced or unannounced. But now, they have the confidence to say that they have a new library and other facilities.

Confidence brought about by the libraries sums up her program: Read Today! Lead Tomorrow! She insists that reading contributes positively to every child’s self-esteem and confidence. To reinforce Sambat Trust library installations, she has also launched programs that promote reading such as putting up mini-libraries inside each classroom. Elementary students also have DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, where each student is expected to grab a book and just read. They also have DEAS (Drop Everything and Share) time, where students share to their classmates what they have read during DEAR time. It ensures that students did read and would have a meaningful learning after reading.

The former school principal of Sambat Elementary School, Mrs. Emelinda Delante, mentions that the school library is one of the many factors that contribute to the school’s high achievement scores and students’ increased confidence to compete in local, regional and national academic contests and sports competitions. She said that the donated school library of Sambat Trust has been instrumental in this endeavor. Her teachers used the books in the library on top of the required textbooks.

Teachers do a variety of reading comprehension strategies from guided reading, silent reading, read-alouds and one-on-one reading activities. Low performing pupils are given priority. Teachers would call for them at lunch break and do a fifteen to twenty minute reading intervention. This happens from Monday to Friday until exam week comes in. The books in the library are materials used for such cases. During recess and dismissal, pupils could freely go to the library for reading time. Here, they get to choose books and a reading material of their choice and simply enjoy a quiet time reading.

There is no full time librarian assigned in the school libraries set up by Sambat Trust, however, school leaders supervise their teachers closely enough to use the resources of the library.

Librarians are Teachers Too. And more!

Madeleine Rex wrote in her blog, Word Bird, an essay that explains the necessity of school libraries in high school. I thought I was reading an essay by an experienced school librarian, but no, Madeleine is a teenager who loves books, reading and libraries. She cites sources and quotes experts in the field of school librarianship to justify her belief in school libraries as essential to the development of functional literacy and the enjoyment of reading fiction. 

Below is an excerpt of her essay which I took from her blog.
...librarians are almost as important as the libraries themselves. They are teachers just like any other….By giving librarians sufficient funds, schools are also giving them the means to buy the books and tools that complement the curriculum. In my experience, the librarian has been a friend. They listen to what students have to say about specific books or series, and they work to serve the students by stocking the library with the books they know the kids like to read.

We need more students like Madeleine Rex who will rally behind us. Who will campaign for us and the important roles librarians play in the school community. We can not do it alone. We need to look at teachers and school leaders who value the benefits that school libraries bring to the teaching and learning experience because they are the immediate partners we can work with. By working together, we can actualize the library services and learning programs we have for children and young adults. We need to see how library services for children and teens make a difference in the life of the young people it serves; that what we do now for them has a stake in their future. By being aware of the impact of school libraries and the services it provide children, teens, teachers, school leaders and the learning community, librarians and school libraries are must haves.
The stories I presented are personal in nature. Let us look at what research has to say about school libraries and the impact they have to the community they serve.

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