School libraries - a student right
Head for the Edge, January/February 2014
Last summer, ALA President Barbara Stripling released the “Declaration for the Right to Libraries” <http://www.barbarastripling.org/declaration/>. It’s part of a campaign to raise public awareness of the vital role libraries play in society. Go, Barbara!
I would also argue that all students have a right to school libraries if our educational system is provide an equal opportunity to each of them - and we should be raising some awareness about school libraries as well. So here’s my riff.
Student Rights to School Libraries
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” An educated citizenry is the product of effective schooling that is available to every child. School libraries are essential to an effective school. Therefore if all students have the right to a high quality education, all students have the right to access to well-staffed, well-stocked, and up-to-date physical and virtual school libraries.
School libraries honor the individual learner.
By providing access to materials on a wide range of topics, with a wide range of reading levels, and in a wide range of media formats, libraries allow the personalization of education, meeting the needs of every learner.
School libraries enable 24/7 learning.
By providing access to a curated collection of online materials, as well as Internet access in as unrestricted an environment as possible, libraries make it possible for learning to continue outside the classroom and school and into the home.
School libraries encourage the love of reading and learning.
By providing novels, non-fiction, magazines, games, videos, and other materials of high interest for practice reading and recreational use, libraries help students recognize that reading and learning can be a joyful experience, making the exploration of topics of personal interest a voluntary, lifelong enterprise.
School libraries teach valuable whole-life skills.
By providing access to professional information experts (librarians) who teach information seeking, evaluation, and communication skills, libraries develop students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity abilities necessary for vocational, academic, and personal success.
School libraries are spaces where all learners are welcome.
By providing a physical environment in which students feels welcome, comfortable, and safe, libraries insure that every student has a place where he or she is valued.
School libraries give all students a voice.
By providing access to the tools needed to create, communicate, and share original information through a range of media, students learn to participate in online conversations with both peers and with the world.
School libraries close the digital divide.
By providing access to technology beyond the school day, libraries give students whose families cannot afford home computers or Internet connectivity access to educational technology before and after school and at home.
School libraries encourage collaboration, teamwork, and face-to-face interaction in the school.
By providing a physical space for social learning, students learn and practice how to work in groups effectively.
School libraries protect student and staff intellectual freedom.
By providing Internet access that is as free from filtering as allowed by law, libraries insure that students and staff information flow is not censored, allowing access to a diverse ideas and opinions.
School libraries honor the education of the whole child.
By supporting an educational philosophy that values higher order thinking skills, creativity, authentic assessments, attention to personal dispositions, and individualization, libraries look beyond the low-level skills measured by standardized test scores and work to create graduates who capable of full engagement with society and the world.
AASL, I happily cede the right to this concept to you.