How effectively do you feel the library meets the needs of its users?
The extremely high circulation rate of the ES library – over 100,000 – each school year clearly shows how well this library is functioning. There is barely a moment in any given school day when the library is not filled with classes, groups of parents, students bearing library passes or various volunteers reshelving or repairing books. At every break time the library is swarming with children devouring literature or exploring one of the many databases available on the catalogue.
However, this thriving hub of the school was not always this way. The two current TLs, with direction and input from the wider school community, have taken great strides in creating a positive, welcoming atmosphere where the collection is easy to access and patrons are ‘met where they are’ in their library services use. I believe this has been achieved through ongoing, dynamic and flexible collection development and management, the rearrangement of the physical areas of the library and the frequent employment of the co-teaching model of library instruction.
Collection development and management
As this library acts as a public library as well – English language texts are not very easily accessible or affordable in Beijing – it is essential that parents have open access to the collection. Families are now entitled to borrow up to 10 titles at a time, additional to their children’s borrowing limits.
Materials are selected via patron input. Additional to curriculum based ordering, the TLs always have a running Follett cart, where titles are immediately added at the point of inquiry by a library patron, whether it is an adult or student. The continually growing mother tongue collection reflects the value the school places on literacy learning (for academics and pleasure) in multiple languages.
Over the past two years, additional instructional and recreational spaces have been incorporated into the library in order to make the atmosphere more conducive to teaching, learning and leisure for all members of the school community. One major, positive change has been the introduction of an Early Years teaching space with low shelving, dramatic play materials, and smart board and data projector. It is likely that the regular use of this space by classroom teachers and the TL has helped raise the circulation rates of the Early Years targeted resources. The incorporation of more non-fiction resources into the EY teaching space could help raise awareness of this facet of the wider collection.
In the recent past, teacher surveys on library usage and the role of the TL were conducted. The main take away from the results was the emphasis teachers wanted placed on increasing student research skills. The TLs felt that teachers also needed instruction in this area so both women have worked diligently on adopting the co-teaching model with the classroom teachers in the area of research skills. Uptake on this initiative is growing as individual teachers see the immense benefit that can come from learning from experts in the research process!
Due in large part to the constant ‘sell’ of library services from both TLs – weekly scheduled library lessons, attendance at Grade level planning meetings, proactive communication about services and new resources, total flexibility in re-scheduling or adding library times, and library based Teacher Teaching Teacher professional development sessions – teachers are increasingly using the library as a scheduled and impromptu teaching and learning space.