Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bridging Gaps

The school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens.

The UNESCO/IFLA School Library Manifesto

The role and purpose of the school library, as articulated in the UNESCO/IFLA Manifesto, poses a great challenge to all librarians in general, and Filipino school librarians in particular. Librarians are faced with ever changing issues and developments in the social, technological and economic landscapes. And if you're a librarian in a third world country, the challenges never cease.

How then can a school librarian cope? Or even survive? Von Totanes offers insight on the leadership skills that must rest in a librarian's little brave heart. To overcome obstacles on the librarian's path in the quest to fulfill this role and purpose, librarians must be equipped with communication skills - the ability to understand and talk the language of clients, both internal and external. This premise has implications in the macro environment of Philippine librarianship, one of which is the training provided for students of library science. Are colleges and universities offering Library Science courses preparing students with the skills necessary to compete and contribute in this ever changing environment?

Then there is the micro level. In school libraries, how many school librarians can break the mould? Are they willing to welcome a new school of thought, that library service doesn't end with the organization and maintenance of books and AV materials? Are school librarians unafraid to learn, relearn and unlearn? Living up to the role and purpose is not an easy task. It is in fact, risky. But if a school librarian is unable to interface and interact with clients, no matter how well equipped the library is in high tech facilities, what is the library for?

Aside from communication skills, today's librarian must have the strength of character to bridge the gaps and break barriers.

On a lighter note, here are strategies for the school librarian who is courageous enough to bridge gaps. I hope that you will be able to reach out to your clients. In the process, discover how instrumental we are in literacy development and nation building.

Winning Friends for the School Library (For Students)
1. Organize storytelling programs and author visits.
2. Schedule film viewing sessions.
3. Invite resource persons to speak about particular hobbies, arts and crafts. etc.
4. Conduct literacy trivias and games.
5. Feature a READING IDOL. One who really reads.
6. Have a teacher talk about his/her favorite book, movie or play.
7. Set up a BLOG for the library geared to attracting more readers to learn and use the library.
8. Highlight a review done by students, teachers or parents.
9. Cook up book showers and book fairs.
10. Be a model.

These strategies can be effectively implemented if the school librarian is aware of the library's role; can communicate ideas and create them; willing to make mistake and inevitably, LEARN from the whole experience.

Have a good day!

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