“In the nonstop tsunami of global information, librarians provide us with floaties and teach us to swim” Linton Weeks.
I love Pru Mitchells comment in Resourcing 21st online Australian Curriculum: The role of school libraries, “All the resources in the world are of no use if teachers and students don’t know they exist…”
Hughes-Hassell and Mancell (2005) suggest that a whole school community view should be adopted when aquiring resources. This means developing a collection that not only reflects the syllabus outcomes but meets the needs of the students and staff for recreational reading and enjoyment.
Resources must be seen and constantly reviewed in order for their purchase and use to be justified. Where students are concerned banners and posters can help advertise resources and books but targeted displays work very well also. For example last year I developed a display of books about dragons. This included NF books such as Chinese New Year, mythology books, drawing books and a book on the Bearded dragon. The Fiction books included selections from both junior and senior fiction and contained titles such as Deltora Quest, Eragon, Hunting for Dragons and Dragonology .
The result of this was two-fold. Books that children may never previously have considered were now right in front of them, which lead to an increase in borrowing, not just the books on display, but some students actively went searching for other books on dragons. The second result and one I hadn’t previously thought about was that I was able to see what was popular and interesting to the students. If it is right in front of them and they still don’t want to read it, then it would be safe to assume that once it’s back on the shelf it won’t be touched either. Sometimes this is due to unattractive covers, in which case I would read the blurb with the students but if still no interest is evident, it may be time for that book to leave the building!
I hold very firmly to the opinion that when selecting and aquiring resources for my school it is important to take a broad view. It is very true that due to tight budgets and time restraints we must be careful when purchasing materials, but I think the reality of resourcing lies somewhere between the theory of just-in-time and just-in-case.
There are so many brilliant resources lying just outside of the curriculum areas which can be linked and utilised in unexpected ways. Take for example my experience only last week in a Yr.4 lesson.
We are currently looking at Atlases in Yr.4 as our students have limited knowledge of the world around them and classroom teachers and I felt it was essential that students be given the time required to increase their base knowledge. As we were looking at one of the pages the children and I were discussing how to read a pictograph and interpret the information given. There were 3 graphs 1906,1956 and 2006 which dealt with a town and the changes in the nature of work available, from a large farming and wood cutting population in 1906 to a town with factories and office workers in 2006.
This is a foreign concept to most of the children so I reminded them of a story I had read to them in Yr. 2 called Schumann the Shoeman. The children remembered this story fondly. It is about a factory establishing itself in Mr. Schumanns home town which resulted in his handmade shoes no longer being appreciated therefore declining his business rapidly. The students immediately understood the implications of the three graphs and I could see on their faces that it was a light bulb moment for them.
As Teacher Librarians we need to be ever mindful of the background and ages of our students when resourcing the curriculum.