Role of School Library in Curriculum Delivery and Management
Last week the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi officially opened an ultra-modern library at Nairobi School. He took the occasion to urge Boards of Managements in Secondary Schools to employ trained librarians to manage the school library systems in their respective schools.
Kaimenyi’s underscored two basic principles underlying the institution of the library system which most current school leaders across the country have apparently not acknowledged the management of schools.
The first principle underlying the library is that both the library and the school serve the same purpose to achieve a common goal; that the school educates the student through the help of teachers while the library on its own offer tutorial lecture materials to aid verbal classroom teaching.
The second principle is that school librarians are in a critical and unique position to partner with other educators to elevate the reading development of students in the schools.
Librarians have a deep and broad knowledge of the wide variety of reading materials of immense educational value in the school library and beyond. They have the capacity to guide students and even the teachers on the most appropriate reading material that reflect the curriculum and the diverse learning needs of the school community.
In urging Boards of school Managements to employ professional librarians, Prof. Kaimenyi was in effect saying that a a functioning school library or any institutional library for that matter needs a professional librarian to for its optimum usage.
The school library is not an adjunct to what the school is established to accomplish. It complements the school by encouraging private study, which is required by students and teachers who want to attain an enduring education beyond examinations and beyond the grave.
Language experts point out that extensive reading should be at the core of the English Language syllabus. A massive exposure to the well written and spoken word consolidates the knowledge, words, idioms, structures and language use employed in different situations for a variety of purposes, observe Valarie Kibera and Mary Gakunga in a book, Teaching English in Kenya Secondary Schools edited by Mary N.Gakunga and Dougal Blackburn and published by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation.
The school library is the only groove where extensive reading can be done.
Boards of School Management which are providing quality education for that aim to provide students with tools o living an earning a living should have full-fledged libraries which are managed by professional librarians. They not only have books worthy gracing a library shelf, they also have established flexible teaching and learning environments that creates room for students to have quality time in the library.
It is one thing to have a full-fledged library and quite another to let students have the leisure to make effective use of the library. Schools which create rigid teaching and learning programs—programs that force to be class all day long and which have Continuous Assessments Tests (CATs) every week actually render the school library irrelevant to education.
The students are more anxious to cram for a CAT and cannot have time, let alone think about scouring the library for some quaint book on some topic he/she has some special interest to know.
The repositories of all the things we learn are embodied in books. Education is about access to prescribed knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and skills. We access this content through actual teaching of prescribed material by our teachers. The library compliments the teacher in that it provides another opportunity to the highly motivated student to go over what he/she has covered in the classroom by reading books about the concepts the teacher taught. In addition, the student is able to access reading materials that although not within the syllabus, nevertheless, help to consolidate or sublimate the knowledge and skills he/she has acquired.
According to American Library Association, reading is a foundational skill for 21st-century learners.
“Guiding learners to become engaged and effective users of ideas and information and to appreciate literature requires that they develop as strategic readers who can comprehend, analyze, and evaluate text in both print and digital formats,” it observes. Indeed, library is a power house of education. We should see it as a compliment and not an adjunct to schooling.