Gone are the days when your class marched to see the librarian once a week and came back with a new book. School libraries have always been important because they provide equal access to books and learning materials for all students. In recent years, libraries have expanded to become more than a room full of books. They have become a hub for the latest research methods and new technology. Additionally, teacher-librarian partnerships are opening students up to new learning both in and out of the classroom.
Why Access to Librarians is Important
Building Stronger Readers
Supporting independent readers is a big part of a school librarian’s job. Not only do they connect students with books that are “just right” to build reading fluency, they provide other scaffolding for reading success. Many studies have proven the correlation between school librarians and student achievement:
- Student test scores typically rise as library staffing and library usage increase.
- The presence of a school librarian has shown an 8 to 35 percent improvement in reading achievement.
Building Critical Thinkers
In a world where researching a topic has been simplified to just “Googling it,” school librarians take the lead in teaching students to be smart and critical researchers. This includes:
- Identifying what questions to ask
- Providing resources for finding the answers
- Determining which sources provide credible information
- Communicating new information accurately/avoiding plagiarism
How to Form a Teacher-Librarian Partnership
Beyond the help they provide your students, there’s a lot that teacher-librarian partnerships can do for you. Librarians, maybe more than anyone in the school, have their fingers on the pulse of latest trends and resources for researching and teaching, which can benefit all educators throughout their school community.
Start by inviting your school librarian to your next departmental or grade level meeting. In this setting, you can discuss the topics you’ll be teaching soon and brainstorm ways to enhance your lesson plans. From there, you can enlist your librarian to co-teach an upcoming lesson that requires research and technology components.
Living Wax Museums, a popular capstone project in many elementary classrooms, is an example of this. If you’re unfamiliar with the project, Living Wax Museums require students to research a historical figure or famous person. They create a written report, poster, or slideshow (depending on the age group), and dress as this figure while presenting facts on his or her life. This would be an ideal content area for librarians to step in and introduce proper research and presentation skills to young students.
Other lesson plans that can benefit from collaboration with your school librarian include:
- Researching popular art movements and having students recreate a famous art piece or create their own art in this style
- Studying early American immigration, researching their families’ country of origin, and seeking out information on genealogy or pieces of oral history from early immigrants
- Creating a classroom United Nations and exploring current events from other countries of the world