In the foreword addressed to the Reader in Eastman’s Books it has been said, “Books are not mere paper, ink or cloth, they are persons. For the most part, they are a company of the immortals who have weathered the centuries and are now marching toward eternity. They told me of their adventures, their romances, their meditations and their exploration of the inner world. They lifted my horizons. They made me laugh and cry and rejoice living in the same world. They invite you too.” Books are collected and preserved in library. Therefore, the Library occupies a very prominent place in the educational set-up. Modern changing pattern of education demands that the learning must be accelerated and broadened by the use of many and varied devices and materials. Library is an essential part of school. In a dynamic approach to teaching, , it supplies enriched materials in all fields of study. “All good methods of education postulate the existence of a well-stocked, efficiently organised library.” Modern teaching is class-room centred but child centred and library centred. The child’s learning has to be self-directed. He has to acquire reading skill and do reading activities through the school library.
While curriculum and text-bool aim at providing the least common multiple of all students in a class, the library aims at bringing out individual differences and developing special interests and aptitudes their best advantage. Civilization has progressed by virtue of specialization. Library habit creates specialists.
It is one of the duties of the school to provide this environment and environment of attractive books. Carlyle has aptly said, “The ultimate aim of education is to teach boys how to read once they learn to read, education will take care of itself.”
Recent discussions about the role of library in the life of the school have led to the following conclusions :
1. It is a collection of a “background material” which can be drawn upon to enrich the work of the curriculum.
2. It is a place where the use of books as sources of information may be taught and practised.
3. It provides material to inspire and develop a pupil’s extramural interests and pursuits.
4. It is a place where various valuable responsibilities may be exercised.
Thus the school library plays an important role in all aspects of education. Its service makes a substantial contribution to children’s education during school life and also helps in their future search for knowledge. H. G. Wells remarked, “A school without an easily accessible library of at least a thousand volumes is really scarcely a school at all it is a dispensary without bottles, a kitchen without a pantry.”
Frances Henne writes, “Good schools, very good schools, and excellent schools, all need excellent libraries. Inferior schools, need excellent libraries too, to overcome the commissions of the curriculum and to compensate for the poor instructional programme.”
Objectives of the School Library
1. To facilitate the instructional programme for the teacher. With a wide variety of text and reference books related to various school subjects, library facilitates the instructional programme. It provides reading materials to the pupil for ‘answering questions, doing assignments and solving problems.
2. To teach a skilful use of books for self-education.
3. To create an atmosphere conductive to the growth of reading habits.
4. To stimulate literary appreciation.
5. To demonstrate the desirability of books and libraries as companions in one’s leisure. 6. To provide fruitful social experiences.
7. To make the library an agency for : (a) Curriculum enrichment ; (b) Pupil exploration ; and (c) The dissemination of good literature.
Important Library Resources
1. Book Resources : Books are essential for presenting different points of view, for providing adequate background, for understanding the people, the processes and the places. Book resources include :
(i) Text-books : The library should contain a variety of most up-to-date text-books in various subjects.
(ii) Unit Booklets : The booklets on a variety of topics ranging from family life and neighbourhood to people of other lands and places, should also be available in the school library.
(iii) Literary Materials : Essay biographies, historical series, animal stories are favourites with children. Travel books lively and interesting. Therefore, inspirational and imaginative literature, particularly tales of adventure, should appear prominently along side books of information on children’s hobbies.
(iv) Reference Materials : The school library should be fairly well-equipped with reference materials. Which may be divided into the following :
(a) Standard of Conventional Reference Books : Conventional reference books include dictionaries, encyclopaedias, Directories. Year Books, Atlases, Maps, Charts, Pamphlets, Handbooks and Manuals. The Dictionary and the Encyclopaedia are basic reference works which from the ‘look-it-up’ habit. Oxford illustrated dictionary and a set of Oxford Junior Children’s Encyclopaedia or a Book of Knowledge may be provided in the school library. Picture collections should include reproduction of well-known masterpieces and everything to which teachers and children are attracted e.g. animals, insects, flowers, portraits, seasons, holidays, places of interest and events.
(b) Non-conventional Reference Books : The non-conventional reference material consists of all other library books that may be employed for reference service of any other kind. They include books on miscellaneous information and books on special subjects.
2. Non-Book Resources : Modern curriculum is concerned with happenings in the local community, the state, the nation and the world. Therefore, books should be supplemented by periodicals, pamphlets, newspapers and other such materials which may vitalise the teaching of subject. The following are the important non-book resources which should be available in the school library :
(i) Periodicals : These include current events periodicals and magazines, about the current events and various aspects of life showing art, literature, music, dance etc.
(ii) Pamphlets : Published by various Government agencies and bureaus pamphlets for specialised services are important sources of information about different walks of social, economic and political life. As they are generally low priced every school library should subscribe for these.
(iii) Newspapers : Each school library should provide for local newspaper and daily several national weekly newspapers. The teachers and pupils should be well informed about events of national and international importance and newspapers is a wonderful agency for that.