|'School Room' by Rob Shenk on Flickr|
It's unwise, of course, to form an opinion on a sector based on a single example, but I'm probably on fairly safe ground when I say that school librarianship is noisy and busy. I don't know what I was expecting, really: I'm sure my own school library wasn't nearly as quiet and peaceful as I vaguely remember it being, and I'm certainly not sure that the peace that I think I remember was the product of high levels of library use. I don't necessarily think the levels of activity I saw were a bad thing, but, *boy* it does look like hard work! And really, although we sometimes complain about undergrads being high maintenance, they have *nothing* on 1400 13 to 18 year olds all clamouring for printing, stationery supplies and the rest...
The library serves a lot of purposes, not all of which can easily co-exist.
- As a place, it's used as:
- a study space;
- a social space;
- a ‘safe haven’ (schools are tough places);
- an extra teaching and form room;
- as an extra IT room.
- It's expected to provide physical and electronic resources to support:
- general study and coursework across all subject areas;
- higher-level research for Year 13 Extended Projects;
- literacy and reading for pleasure for a range of ages, reading levels, and tastes.
- The librarian has to be able to:
- teach study, research, and critical thinking skills and techniques;
- troubleshoot IT problems;
- keep control of up to 60 pupils in the library at one time;
- recommend resources to meet any of the needs listed above;
- help with school work and university applications;
- find time for the standard library work of ordering, processing, shelving, tidying and weeding books.
My trip back to school was inspiring. It's great to see so many people coming through a library throughout the day, and to see the various ways (such as using Delicious for subject-specific lists of links) in which the librarian makes a difference to the pupils who use the library, whether that's by getting them hooked on reading, helping with writing personal statements, or just by providing a welcoming place to spend some time. I just wish that I'd made better use of my school librarian back in the day...