Do you feel the areas of need stated are the appropriate ones school library collections should be developed to meet?
Absolutely. A library and it’s collection are only going to be valued and utilised to their greatest extent when they completely cater for the needs and desires of the community as a whole. Who wants to spend time in a place where nothing holds your interest?
I think the most pressing of these needs is that of mother tongue resources. As an international school, we educate children from all over the globe with many different mother tongues. As educators we know that children always think, analyse and synthesise mostly deeply in their mother tongue so it makes perfect sense to give those students resources that enables that learning. They can then move from internalising their knowledge to sharing and furthering it with others through the medium of English.
How thorough a knowledge do you have of the teaching and learning context and the teacher – learning characteristics present within your school or a school you are familiar with?
As a LT with a teaching background, I have the skills necessary to read and understand planners crafted by our teaching staff. I then transfer this knowledge by creating resources lists to match each planner which include differentiated resources. At all times in my job, I have access to, and knowledge of, our wider curriculum and the framework in which it sits. This allows me to both preempt and further the ways the library can help classroom and specialist teachers help each child develop to their highest potential.
How might data on these areas be effectively gathered?
I think the idea of student, teacher and parent surveys are a great idea. Our school is particularly collaborative and open to new ideas so I believe any requests we have for others to help us create a better and more tailored library would be welcomed.
Our TL already sits in with some planning meetings and is a great networker within the staff. He is very well liked and respected and has an open door policy that makes staff (and students and parents!) feel comfortable offering ideas and suggestions. However, as in most schools, we are all time-poor and making our needs survey a concrete task, perhaps undertaken at a staff meeting, would mean we are more likely to get the information we require in a timely manner.
Points to consider for my school
Even though we have a great (yet developing) teacher reference section, I don’t believe we have branched out to include specific personal teacher education (Masters etc) materials. The school gives individual grade levels professional development money and the autonomy to spend it on what works best for them. To the best of my knowledge, buying materials for personal higher education has never been high on the agenda. Can we perhaps step in and fill that void for teachers?
Our online database subscription library is growing rapidly but I don’t believe it is well utilised by the teachers or students, unless a particular area of a database is highly and personally recommended by myself or the TL. A future challenge for our library is to remedy that. Adding foreign language databases could also be another direction we could try, in order to ‘hit’ those kids whose first language is not English. Strong parental support would be vital here, as to assess the quality and quantity of these databases.
Living in a foreign country with strong censorship and importation tax laws, our school community suffers from a lack of English language text availability – we are a major source of resources for the whole community. (Add all the other languages in our community and the problem is compounded 100%). We have a growing parenting library for our community which is well utilised. Our lending allowances are also quite generous, allowing families to borrow up to 10 books at any given time. We have over 1000 books in language others than English (not including our host language section) which is a great support to many of our families. This is another area in which we can develop, especially