Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Building Bridges

In my last post, I drummed on the importance of communictaion skills and strength of character that a school librarian must posses to make the school library a viable learning laboratory - one that is alive, growing and functional. A living school library has better prospects at getting support from the administration and the client it serves. A growing school library contributes to the goals set by it’s mother organization. A functional school library with programs and services geared to the development of its clients can make an impact to student learning.

Student learning . Two words that may sound alien to school librarians. Is it the school librarians' concern? Or teachers alone? You may be nodding your head in agreement that school librarians contribute to student learning. But I'm sure that there is a cloud of mist in your mind right now that it could not visualize this scenario. This implicates that school librarins are teachers too. However, librarians as teachers was a concept not directly taught in the course. And little has grown in (Philippine) school librarianship for the past two decades. If there are improvements and innovations, it is not on the issue of student learning and chidlren's library services.

In the Philippines, only three units is alloted for the study of school libraries. Unless, a student takes cognates on Reading Education, Child Development and Psychology and/or Children's Literature, he/she is not prepared for children's and young adult library services. If there are researches on the discipline, there is no accesisble journal where school librarians can access them.

The school librarian meets a fork in the road, in this case. One leads to the traditional school of thought, while the other takes to a more progressive stand to school library management. And it is the later that demands so much learning and study from the school librarian. But I am hopeful because, there are ways for the school librarian in the Philippines to make a difference - by networking and interfacing with internal and external groups of professionals. This is hard work and one that entails a lot of heart.

Let's take a deep sigh. I'll put aside the bigger problems and focus on more interesting ways to build bridges so we may all be capable of crossing the great divide. Here are "expanded" explanations from my list since the last time I posted about " bridging gaps".

Winning Friends for the School Library (For Students)
1. Organize storytelling programs and author visits.
Storytelling sounds easy. Think again. If you are not a frequent teller, or is still a neophyte on the art, contact storytellers around. Likewise, with authors. I recommend KUTING and ALITAPTAP STORYTELLERS PHILIPPINES. You can also invite teachers who are capable of teling stories. Just make sure that your storytelling sessions and author visit programs are in context to your school's curricular offering.

2. Schedule film viewing sessions.
Check out the available videos or CD's you have in your collecion that children will enjoy. And I mean it as a material for children.

3. Invite resource persons to speak about particular hobbies, arts and crafts. etc.
Parents and institutions are a big help for this activity. Be sure to know the interests of your children users.

4. Conduct literacy trivias and games.
This is an activity that is well loved by kids. Popular books are very in demand. It is also a way to highlight the "unborrowables" and campaign for readership among the young.

5. Feature a READING IDOL. One who really reads.
This may be a teacher, a parent or a celebrity to talk about the books he/she has read. It doesn't mean that the IDOL will guest in your library if logistics are too limited. Bulletin board displays may be enough.

To plan such activities, a knowledeg of how your school sysytem works is an advantage. Proposals must be written and submitted to the proper channels. Summer is the ideal time to plan. Integrate. Collaborate. Be a school librarian in action.

Have a happy day!

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