Saturday, 3 November 2012
Last Monday I went to London on a march and lobby of Parliament in support of school libraries and librarians and in support of the notion that they should a statutory requirement, which at present they are not. Here is a photograph of Philip Ardagh holding a placard and wearing a very appropriate tie.
But why are they important in this day and age. Does a school need a library to be a good school? Clearly many school believe they don't have to have one. There are many schools who have done away with them already and have 'study areas' or 'learning zones' instead. If these schools are getting good results out of their children, does it matter?
Yes. Yes it does.
I don't want to give schools a hard time. They are pulled and pushed by changing educational trends and governmental directives and, yes, the desires of the parents of the children in their care. But because of all that - because they are under such pressure to get results, they need to leave a bubble of air in their schools. They need to give children and teenagers a chance to make discoveries of their own and they need a good, friendly, trained and knowledgable librarian to guide those exploring souls when they need guidance.
I discovered Rosemary Sutcliffe in the school library. I discovered Biggles. I discovered Henry Treece and Dr Seuss. I discovered a wonderful book of African folk tales, the name of which escapes me, but the illustrations it contained are still vivid in my imagination. I read anything I could find on Greek myths. I looked at expensive art books I could not afford but which shaped my desire to be an artist.
These were not books I had to read for English or books I read as research for an essay. They were books I read for the sheer love of reading. Reading for pleasure it's called.
School libraries won't change every child's life, but they will, definitely, change the lives of some children.
The school library certainly changed mine.