School libraries are no longer hushed repositories...
for books but are spaces where students are actively engaged in their own learning. Whether they are referred to as library media centers or the latest buzz word, learning commons, today’s school libraries reflect our changing world and the need to educate our students to be discerning consumers of the proliferating amount of information available in our 21st century environment. This information takes a variety of formats, both print and electronic, and often is available 24/7 through the library’s website.
Research shows that there is a direct correlation between high quality school library programs and student achievement. Maintaining the vitality of schools and school library programs enhances the economic livelihood of communities by encouraging people to settle there and support the educational system. The library is a partner with the teachers in the education of students, as librarians instruct classes in accessing, evaluating and using information sources effectively. In preparing our students for the future, school libraries foster good citizenship by teaching the ethical use of information and respect for others’ rights. Students are taught to observe copyright and to give attribution to the work of others.
Each school library has its own stories of students who have benefitted from its existence. Creating life-long learners has always been a goal of libraries. This is a space where many young people have pursued their passion for learning after being introduced to the wonders that books and reading provide. Programs like the Green Mountain Book Award (high school), the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award (DCF for middle school) and the Red Clover Award (elementary) promote reading and empower students to choose their favorite books to win these statewide awards. Today students may also query an author through Skype or share research with a class from another state, or even another country, through the Learning Network of Vermont. Students share their work with others and collaborate on projects in the classroom and in the library. They may have an adult “book buddy” or be publishing their video online to share with families at home. The possibilities are endless. The mantra of the 21st century school library is to encourage students to think, create, share, and grow.
President, Vermont School Library Association
Librarian, South Burlington High School