Thursday, March 2, 2006

Perceptions, Philosophy and Paradigms

As a take off from my post last February 27, 2006, I wrote about school libraries falling under Student Services or the Academic Program. I find it odd when school libraries affirm their role as the hub of the school and to articulate their goals, objectives and functions as supporting and supplementing the curriculum when all the while falling under Student Services. It does not sound as auxiliary nor ancillary services to me. This gives me the impression that the school administration perceives the school library quite differently the way the school librarian does.

This is a common scenario among schools. Although what I am recounting are not based on research, I have enough experience as accreditor and trainer-facilitator to claim such realities.

The success of school libraries can be dictated by the way the school principal, director or directress perceives the school library. If the school library is seen as a repository of books and resources, its functions reduced to clerical and technical tasks then, it does belong to Student Services. Is this wrong? No. However, the school library's potential to affect teachers and impact student learning is diminished. Who is at the losing end? The students and their parents who send their kids to school.

With the resources and the technology available today, teachers can do so many things with them for better delivery of instruction. Students can be provided with other modes of learning that cater to their learning styles through these different learning gadgets and varied resources in the classroom and outside of it, like, the school library! Many a school, and mostly, private schools for this matter only want the best for their students and teachers. Its administrators assess, review and reform the curriculum. Top level administrators are very much involved, definitely, but school librarians rarely are given the opportunity to bring in their expertise, knowledge and academic training. I'm not blaming the administration because, they are not aware of the school library's potential to impact instruction.

It is now the responsibility of the school librarian to let "them" know. School librarians have long recognized their important role in academic and formative programs of the school. But how to communicate this to their superiors is another matter. We're treading on library management issues here and this is one weak area of Philippine library education (I won't mind if you challenge this statement, but if you do, I'll try to post proofs based on research. Just take note that we're talking about school librarianship in particular).

First, it is necessary for school librarians to look into their own philosophy of school library services. This philosophy is of course, influenced by their training in library school. Second, they, we for this matter, must study the existing paradigms on implementing school library programs. It would also help if research on trends and current movements in school library services are taken into consideration.

(To be continued...)

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