The Heart of Education is the Student’s Learning – The Library and the Librarian
The heart of education is the student’s learning. The responsibility of the librarian is to develop knowledge so that learning will become more lastingly significant, more permanently meaningful and more personally satisfying. Perhaps, much of what the students learn will wear out or become obsolete. But information skills learned in libraries will continue to be functional indefinitely or for as long as they are needed (Mangay, 2004).
The school/college library is a vital partner in knowledge management and should share with the school/college their responsibility to systematically design, carry out, and evaluate the total process of learning and teaching (Herring, 1982). In which case, the library assumes the role of mediator between pupils/students and learning resources, and between teachers/lecturers and instructional resources. The library contributes to a meaningful, satisfying and challenging education, if directly involved (Mangay, 2004).
The school/college library should be seen as an integral part of the school/college organization and not as an orphanage. Its development cannot be isolated from development in education because it is a part of the education system. The library is unique in that its users are part of its education, acquiring skills in the effective use of information to meet certain learning goals. The library is not merely a support to the curriculum but an active part of the curriculum.
Education generally is moving from traditional class teaching of restricted subject/modules, towards more individual work, group learning, project work, research and making increasing use of non-book as well as book resources. The disappearance of streaming in the school curriculum plays a vital role in the search for methods or sources that will cope with the great variety in the learning capabilities of pupils/students.
The traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach of teacher/lecturer centred education has been modified. Teachers/lecturers now spend their time to introduce pupils/students to topics and explain concepts and methods in a lecturer-type situation. Pupils/students are required to learn for themselves and by themselves and where possible as their own pace. We continue to see the gradual growth of the use of the ‘newer media’ alongside the ‘older print’ medium (Mangay, 2004).
School/college libraries offer a learning environment within which the pupil/student can learn and practice the techniques of enquiring and research. Their collections express anticipated requirements of all teaching units and special interests of the school/college, and in addition, pay particular attention to the personal cultural and recreational interests of young people themselves, so that reading and enquiring become natural habits of life.
Libraries are now entering a new stage of development in the information age. New educational developments have strengthened the role and importance of school/librarians. They have the task of fulfilling the natural role of school/college libraries as a centre for learning and the exploitation of all available methods of communication. The library is a communication centre. Its commitment and concern for the encouragement of reading and enrichment of the individual’s imaginative and creative life remains undiminished (Taylor, 1980).
It is the responsibility of the librarians to ensure that clientele develop the skill to find, use, evaluate and retrieve materials according to the clientele’s own felt need and purposes. He should provide reference and guidance services when the clientele’s skills are not adequate to the search problem at hand (Grass and Klentz, 1999). Librarians are often viewed as providers of resources, rather than co-teachers who share common goals. The librarian is an educator, custodian, organizer and disseminator of knowledge. The library therefore, enables the student to investigate context beyond curriculum.
Effective library use will enhance library-consciousness of young people; transform non-users and enthusiastic students to become lifelong readers and learners. Library-consciousness will also change the opinion of students who think his/her purpose in the library is only to study lecture notes or charge mobile phones without the ability to make research for assignments, project-writing or other academic assessments. The library enables users to develop lifelong literacies. It helps to increase individual student efforts and attainment; creates a new look at the use of information, and it is a stimulus for the academic community (lecturers, staff, students, researchers).
Finally, the library should be recognised and utilized by other professional colleagues in the learning enterprise (Lance and Loertsher, 2001). It brings professional clientele by the resources provided, thus facilitating richly-improved lecture notes fruitful to students’ learning, project writing, term papers, assignments and of course, examination. Better approach will be taken on modules taught and ‘notes-making’. This stimulates partnership between lecturers and the librarian. The work of the librarian is of high-quality and he/she makes valuable contribution to the academic community (Grass and Klentz, 1999).
Grass, J. and Klentz, S. (1999). “Developing for authentic learning”. Teacher Librarian, 27(1), pp.22-25.
Herring, J.E. (1988). School Librarianship. 2nd ed. London: Clive Bingley.
Lance and Loertscher, D.V. (2001). Powering achievement: school library media-programs, make a difference – the evidences. Sam Josa, California: H. William. Research and Publishing.
Mangay, S. (2004). The need for provision for an effective school library system in Sierra Leone. (unpublished).
Taylor, L.J. (1980). A librarian’s handbook: supplementary papers and documentation, containing new policy, statement, standards of service and memoranda of evidence, and a fully revised direction section. Vol.2. London : The Library Association.