Our school libraries are an incredible asset to our schools, acting as the hub of inquiry and helping to promote the enjoyment of reading. In a time when there is more information at our fingertips than ever, our teacher-librarians can support students in learning how to sift through and evaluate the vast amounts of info available.
Research shows a positive correlation between fully staffed and well-resourced libraries and student achievement, as well as a significant correlation between reading for enjoyment and the presence of a teacher librarian.
Lately, there has been a tremendous push to add makerspaces or STEM labs into Library Learning Commons. For many schools, this has been an incredible shift, allowing libraries to engage more students promoting curiosity and wonder. However, we need to be careful not to let the pendulum to swing a little too far in one direction. A few months ago, I was involved in a twitter chat in which someone commented that libraries were obsolete, and should all be converted to makerspaces or technology labs. This got me to thinking about what our libraries are and what they can be.
School libraries need to be a space where the Teacher-Librarian supports inquiry, information literacy, creates a safe and welcoming space and helps develop a love of reading. The Ontario Library Association has laid this vision out beautifully here and in the Together for Learning vision document.
Inquiry is an essential part of any Learning Commons. Makerspaces and STEM are parts of inquiry, but they do not supersede inquiry requiring information literacy and the chance to explore, investigate, process and create. Rather, they enhance that inquiry process. And good literature should not make way for maker- and STEM- spaces, but if the space is a “mausoleum for dusty books”, let’s reimagine what the space can be to become the “beating heart of the school”.
Makerspaces and STEM …do not supersede inquiry… rather, they enhance that inquiry process.
https://www.accessola.org/web/Documents/OLA/Divisions/OSLA/SchoolLibrariesStudentAchievementOntario.pdf (page 2)