The heart of education is student learning. The librarian’s responsibility is to develop knowledge so that learning becomes longer lasting, more permanently meaningful, and more personally satisfying. Perhaps much of what students learn will burn out or become obsolete. But the information skills learned in libraries will continue to be functional indefinitely or for as long as needed (Mangay, 2004).
The school/university library is a vital partner in knowledge management and should share with the school/university the responsibility for systematically planning, implementing and evaluating the whole learning and teaching process (Herring, 1982). In this case, the library assumes the role of mediator between pupils/students and educational resources, and between teachers/teachers and educational resources. The library contributes to a meaningful, satisfying and stimulating education, if directly involved (Mangay, 2004).
The school/university library should be seen as an integral part of the school/university organization and not as an orphanage. Its development cannot be isolated from the development of education because it is part of the education system. The library is unique in that its users are part of its education, acquiring skills in effectively using information to achieve certain learning goals. The library is not just a support to the curriculum, but an active part of the curriculum.
Education in general is moving away from the traditional classroom teaching of narrow subjects/modules, towards more individual work, group learning, project work, research and an increasing use of non-book and library resources. The disappearance of streaming in the school curriculum plays a fundamental role in the search for methods or sources that address the wide variety of pupils/students’ learning abilities.
The traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach of teacher-centred education has been changed. Teachers/lecturers now take their time to present topics to pupils/students and explain concepts and methods in a teacher-like situation. Pupils/students are required to learn on their own and on their own and where possible at their own pace. We continue to see the gradual growth of the use of ‘new media’ alongside the ‘old print’ medium (Mangay, 2004).
School/university libraries provide a learning environment within which the pupil/student can learn and practice inquiry and research techniques. Their collections express anticipated needs of all school/university educational units and special interests, and also pay special attention to the personal cultural and recreational interests of the young people themselves, so that reading and inquiry 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 the school/librarians. They have the task of fulfilling the natural role of school/university libraries as a center of learning and valorisation of all available means of communication. The library is a communication center. His commitment to and concern for the encouragement of reading and the enrichment of the individual’s imaginative and creative life remain unchanged (Taylor, 1980).
It is the responsibility of librarians to ensure that patrons develop the ability to find, use, evaluate and retrieve materials according to their needs and purposes. It should provide referral and guidance services when clients’ expertise is not adequate for the research problem at hand (Grass & Klentz, 1999). Librarians are often seen 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, allows the student to investigate context beyond the curriculum.
Effective use of the library will improve young people’s awareness of the library; turn non-users and eager learners into lifelong readers and learners. Library awareness will also change the opinion of students who think that its purpose in the library is just to study lecture notes or charge cell phones without the ability to research for homework, write projects, or other academic assessments. The library enables users to develop lifelong literacies. Helps increase individual student efforts and achievements; it creates a new look at the use of information, and is a stimulus for the academic community (faculty, staff, students, researchers).
Finally, the library should be recognized and used by other professional colleagues in the learning enterprise (Lance and Loertsher, 2001). It brings professional clientele from the resources provided thereby facilitating fruitful richly enhanced handouts for student learning, project writing, term papers, assignments and of course the exam. There will be a better approach on taught modules and ‘note taking’. This stimulates collaboration between teachers and the librarian. The librarian’s work is of high quality and makes a valuable contribution to the academic community (Grass & Klentz, 1999).
Erba, J. and Klentz, S. (1999). “Developing for Authentic Learning”. Teaching Librarian, 27(1), pp.22-25.
Herring, JE (1988). School librarianship. 2nd ed. London: Clive Bingley.
Lance and Loertscher, DV (2001). Empowering Outcomes: School Library Multimedia Programs Make a Difference: Evidence. Sam Josa, California: H. William. Research and publishing.
Mangay, S. (2004). The need to provide for an effective school library system in Sierra Leone. (unreleased).
Taylor, LJ (1980). A Librarian’s Handbook: Supplemental papers and documentation, containing new policies, statements, service standards and testing memorandums and a completely revised direction section. Vol.2. London: The Library Association.