Saturday, 26 November 2016

Teachers: Is your school library having an impact on teaching and learning? 4 ways school librarians can effect change.

This brilliant diagram demonstrates clearly how a school librarian can make an impact on teaching and learning in schools, but how can you make this happen in your school? Whether you are a librarian or teacher you can all be responsible for making change. Librarians need to start talking about what they can do and teachers need to be asking what is my librarian doing for me. 

Williams, D. Wavell, C. and Morrison, K., 2013. Impact of School Libraries on Learning. Aberdeen: Institute for Management, Governance & Society (IMaGeS), Robert Gordon University.

What kind of school librarian do you have? Do they:-

  • check out books
  • tidy shelves
  • controle crowds of students at lunch and break time
  • run the AR reading scheme or any other reading scheme

How do your teachers use the school library? Do they:-
  • send students who have been excluded from class
  • send sick students to sit in the library
  • bring groups of students when they have a cover lesson
  • Request books but never use the library themselves

What would your librarian like to be doing?
  • Working alongside teachers  - planning and teaching 
  • supporting English curriculum for literacy
  • supporting information and digital literacy across the whole school

How would the school library then be used?
  • classes book the library for research lessons
  • classes book the library for literacy lessons 
  • books and on-line resources used more within the classroom
  • teachers using the library for their own research and subject knowledge
  • students become independent as they know how and where to access good quality resources

Benefits for teachers?
  • They would know what resources are in the library for their subject
  • An expert could teach research, referencing and plagiarism skills 
  • students quality of work will improve

If this is to change the school librarians, senior leadership teams and teachers need to work together to ensure that everyone understands the specialist role of the school librarian in their school. 

4 Steps to make change



1. Find an information literacy framework that works for you.

An information literacy framework enables librarians to talk to teachers in a way they understand. We are all talking about the same thing but if we are using librarian terminology it does not make sense to teachers. The Schools' library Service in Guernsey, use one adapted from the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum This is a huge document but everything you need is there. This was shared with us by a librarian at Oakham school, Darryl Toerien, whom I met when I attended an IB course he was running. He is currently helping his school embed information literacy in his school curriculum. If you would like to see our adapted framework we have attached it to our website.

2. Make sure you, as the librarian, are confident in teaching how to access any on-line resources.



Digital research is where many teachers need support and do not have the skills themselves to search online databases. This is where your expertise will be appreciated. Not only for the students for the teachers as well. Bring together all the online databases that the school buys into, make sure what kind of licence they have bought. Is it departmental or whole school? Offer lessons on getting the best from these resources. Offer CPD to teachers or ask them what they are teaching and offer to search  for them. Offer to find good websites and add them to the library catalogue. Directing students to good quality websites via the library catalogue is not spoon feeding them. They have to find them by using keywords which is a valuable independent skill.


3. Make sure you, as the librarian, understand referencing and plagiarism and teach it with confidence.

Many teachers do not know the rules themselves or that there are programmes to make referencing easy. In todays world where information is freely available it is essential that students learn to reference at an early age. Help make it become something they do as habit and not because they have to.

4. Talk to the head teacher about the above and ask to be invited to Head of Department meetings.

The role of the librarian needs to be taken seriously by all staff.  In order to become more than someone who runs the library it is necessary to be where teachers are talking about the curriculum. The library and the librarian needs to be at the heart of the school and that is not just where it is in the building but where it is in teachers planning.