Reflection: What is the mission of the modern school library?

3. What is the mission of the modern school library and how do the mission’s relate to the common beliefs?  After class discussion, and your thoughts last week how have your reactions to the common beliefs changed (maybe they haven’t).  If you had to write a mission statement what do you think would be important to include? Due 10/2

In terms of a mission statement, important elements would be to mention that the library should be an all-inclusive learning tool for the school community. It should honor diversity and different opinions. It should not just be a quiet place to read, but also a place to collaborate on projects and share creativity. It should include resources for students, teachers, staff, parents and members of the community.

The modern school library is not just a repository of books. It should be an up to date collection honoring the interests of the students and supporting the school curriculum. It should have computers that can be used to do research, communicate and collaborate with other students such as on blogs and wikis.

Our role as the librarian is to help students and staff sift through the plethora of information available and help them to figure out what information will really come close to answering their questions. We should not judge what they want to research or the level at which they wish to research it. We can help them with tools that will make their research and writing more fruitful. This might include showing them how to make a chart on the computer, how to find academic journal articles on the internet, possible programs for web site design or for making a video.

The possible activities that can be done in the library are so much broader than when I was a high school student. I could have never imagined anything like Second Life at that time. At the same time, there is lots of junk out in cyberspace and lots of things that will waste your time. I look at my high school freshman’s Droid and wonder why he would want an application (app) that simulates buttering a bagel(?).  We could also provide a workshop on organization and time management.

I am not a fan of filters and I believe it is the private matter of the student as to what they feel they need to research. Short of searching pornography on the web, the student should have free rein to explore. I should maintain their privacy from their parents unless it is a matter of possible harm to them or another person.

Another thing we can help students with is trying to help them to move to a more complex level of analysis. I found science students were very able at following cook book labs and writing up the data, but then they had difficulty analyzing it and relating it to the bigger picture of the world around them. I also found less and less curiosity as they moved further into high school. This is not true of all students. But I would like to help inject some more of that childlike wonder into their “jaded, urbane existences. “

It would be nice to be able to play background music softly to introduce them to some other composers or groups that they might not commonly listen to. For example, check a collection of works by a classical composer out of my local library and play it driving to and from work and picking the kids up from school. Last week it was Mendelsohn. This week I am listening to Die Fledermaus and Tschaikovsky. My daughter asked me about it. I told her that since she is studying violin, I thought it would be fun to hear some violin music in bigger works. I also told her that opera is an acquired taste. I went to my first opera at about her age and then went regularly with my friends from high school. If young people are not exposed to that type of music or reading “classics” or good literature, they will not develop a taste for it. That will influence the breadth of their experiences in the years to come and the people they associate with. I didn’t have a television in undergrad or graduate school. I didn’t get a television until one afternoon when I heard that Leontyne Price would be giving her final performance of Aida. That was worth a dash to Sear’s to get a TV. How can we give those kinds of interests to our students? How can we make learning seem more fun than video games? Can we incorporate video games to teach academics?


About KLevenson

I am Teacher Librarian at Piedmont High School in the San Francisco East Bay. I am a part time reference Librarian I for the San Francisco Public Library. I have a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from San Jose State and a Teacher Librarian credential in addition to my teaching credential in Science. My first MA was from Harvard in Archaeology. My students teach me something new every time I am with them!
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