Different Roles of School and Public Libraries
School libraries are not the same as public libraries. Public libraries serve the whole community – from pre-schoolers to the elderly. It is not their role to educate, but to provide access to a range of information resources and services and access to recreational reading material. The public library does not have to provide resources to meet the curriculum needs of its local schools.
The school library has a specialist, educative role. It has a teacher librarian familiar with the curriculum and with how students learn. It ensures teachers are well resourced for their teaching, and that the information needs of students are met for all their studies. Teacher librarians maintain an indepth knowledge of literature and are dedicated to finding the right reading for each student, not only to improve student literacy, but to foster positive and enjoyable reading experiences that contribute to lifelong learning.
Both school and public libraries strive to meet the information and reading needs of their own clientele. The resources they hold are much more than simply books – online information, posters, newspapers, magazines, DVD’s, software, music. Both libraries are dedicated to supporting lifelong learning, but it is the teacher librarian’s role to teach students HOW to navigate their way through the mass of information sources they will encounter throughout their lives. It is the teacher librarian (along with parents and classroom teachers) who will lay the foundations of a love of literature and reading. The public librarian fosters and supports that interest and will help to encourage library use into adulthood.
Both libraries are about showing that there are books for everyone and that Harry Potter is only one of a thousand great reads.
Not all library qualifications are the same.
Public librarians hold qualifications in librarianship, providing them with the knowledge and expertise to design, develop, manage and evaluate the delivery of its library service and to assist its clientele to become lifelong learners.
A Library Technician is a para-professional who holds Diploma level qualifications. They require sound, practical knowledge and skills to enable them to support the delivery of library services.
To have a great school library, you need a TEACHER LIBRARIAN (TL), who holds a recognised professional teaching qualification AND professional qualifications in librarianship. A teacher librarian is a uniquely qualified staff member in a school.
So what does a TL do to make them so valuable? Click on the tabs at the top of this page to read why schools need a great library and qualified teacher librarian.