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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 1, September 2006

Celebrate school libraries!

by Rick Mulholland

Almost every school has some form of a school library. To paraphrase a quote by American novelist Shelby Foote, a school is just a group of classrooms gathered around a library. In the past few issues of Teacher newsmagazine, we have read a number of articles relating to school libraries, their programs, their personnel, and how important they are to the education of our students. Now we need to turn the attention to something that is rarely done for school libraries. It is something that many teacher-librarians find difficult to do—we need to promote ourselves—we need to celebrate! This is supported by a leading researcher in school librarianship, Dr. Ross J. Todd, who says it is "part of critically reviewing objectives in relation to learning, and ensuring that student learning outcomes are not only able to be identified, but are acknowledged and celebrated by the school community."

We can celebrate our programs by showcasing students’ projects in a number of ways, including displays in the library or office display cabinet and publishing written work in the school newsletter or on a web site. Why not approach the local newspaper to have students’ work published in the weekend paper? What about the local media showcasing the actual unit in action?

But the best way to celebrate school libraries is on the fourth Monday in October. International School Library Day was proclaimed in 1999 by then International Association of School Librarianship president Dr. Blanche Woolls and reaffirmed last year by the current International Association of School Librarianship president, Peter Genco. International School Library Day is an opportunity for school libraries to showcase their role in the promotion of reading and literacy skills as well as information literacy skills, which help to provide the foundations for lifelong learning. School libraries matter and make a difference!

In Canada, National School Library Day, which is celebrated on the same day as International School Library Day, was proclaimed by Roch Carrier, then National Librarian of Canada, at the National School Library Summit held in Ottawa in June of 2003. The first National School Library Day was held on Monday, October 27, 2003.

International School Library Day and National School Library Day provide the school community an opportunity to celebrate the importance of the school library. It is a day where teachers, students, parents, administrators, and of course teacher-librarians stand up and show the Canadian public that school libraries matter.

On Monday October 23, 2006, school communities around the world will be celebrating the 8th International School Library Day with the theme Reading. Knowing. Doing. This highlights the connection between reading and the application of knowledge. I urge every member of the BC school community to join their teacher-librarian in celebrating the important role that school library programs have in our education system today and in the future.

For more information, visit the following web sites: International School Library Day (www.iasl-slo.org/isld.html), National School Library Day (www.nsld.ca).

Rick Mulholland is a teacher-librarian at East Clayton Elementary School, Surrey.


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