BOTSWANA LIBRARY ASSOCIATION POSITION STATEMENT ON THE ROLE OF TEACHER LIBRARIAN INTRODUCTION
It has come to the attention of BLA that School libraries in Botswana are lagging far behind in development. The theme for the BLA conference last year was “School libraries and Information Literacy Key to the attainment of an informed and educated nation’. Several debates were raised in relation to school libraries and the role they play in the attainment of vision 2016. It became clear from the discussions that,despite the recommendation by the Revised National Policy on Education and the UNESCO/IFLA School Libraries Manifesto, school libraries in Botswana do not take that centre stage in education, where they can be linked to students academic performance. Many challenges ranging from the undefined status of the teacher librarian, dwindling budgets, poor infrastructure,and a lack of department within the Ministry of Edcation and Skills Development dedicated to school libraries were identified as contributing factors to this status quo.
Botswana Library Assocaition (BLA) is a national body representing information workers in Botswana. Its aims are to improve the status of the library and information profession in Botswana and to advocate for an improved library and information service across Botswana. It is against this background therefore that BLA has taken a position to lobby for the recognition of the teacher librarian and the school library as means of improving academic results in secondary school as it has been evident for the past two years that the results are declining.
BENEFITS OF HAVING SCHOOL LIBRARIES
Although extensive research has not been done in Botswana yet, research conducted in other countries and few that has been conducted in Botswana have demonstrated that access to a library has a significant positive impact on the academic development of learner. In consequence that translates into development of better citizens who are more productive both in their individual lives and work places thereby leading to a more productive nation. Hence the call by BLA that there should be more support by the government for better school libraries and qualified staff.
The Librarian/Library specialist
The role of the teacher librarian and the school library have changed over the years in order to meet the diverse teaching and learning needs of both students and teachers. Therefore, there is urgent need to align the role of the teacher librarian in such a way that they will be able to fully play their role as teachers of information literacy skills as well as instructional leaders.
- Librarians are instructional partners and library programme administrators. They impart skills and strategies that empower students to learn, research and analyse findings more effectively; such skills include reading comprehension, writing comprehension, evaluation of resources, Internet searching skills, moral and lawful use of information resources as well as overall cognitive skills. They also assists teachers with their information needs.
- The school library plays a key role is promoting information and reading literacy among students.
- School librarians select materials that support and promote the curricular as well as independent study and leisure reading. They plan learning experiences that offer whole classes, small groups, and individual learners an interdisciplinary approach to literacy learning.Therefore there is a need to have qualified teacher librarians who can execute this role with efficiency. become adept at determining authority and accuracy of information, and analyzing and evaluating that information to synthesize new knowledge from multiple resources. School librarians model and collaboratively teach these skills and strategies.
The Library as a Space
- A library offers equal opportunity for learning to every child regardless of their socio economic standing. Where there is a school library every child in the school has access to the same supplementary materials.
- School libraries provide students, and staff with open, non-restricted access to a varied high quality collection of reading materials in multiple formats that reflect academic needs and personal interests.
- The school library is a “space” for group and individual work. It provides students with a safe and secure location to learn and protects them from undesirable elements in the streets.
CHALLENGES FACED BY SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN BOTSWANA
Despite substantial investment in school libraries by the government of Botswana, school libraries continue to face many challenges some of which include but are not limited to the following:
- Absence of policy and legal instrument for establishing school libraries:
- Lack of a dedicated department /unit in the MOESD (RNPE 9) in charge of school libraries
- Inadequate funding for library resources.
- Lack of data/research on school libraries
- Inadequate staffing (both in terms of numbers of staff and professional training).
- Inadequate infrastructure and furniture (furniture, electronics(hard/soft wares).
- Lack of incorporation of the library in the overall school programme.
The emerging educational paradigm calls for a shift from what teachers teach to focus on what students learn. Although the education system encourages lifelong learning it does not encourage the use of the library as there is no systematic program in schools designed for such. BLA therefore calls for a position that clearly recognises: The library as a critical componet within the education system and the teacher librarian’ role in the academic development of the student, and for the teacher librarian to be adequately capacitated to be able to deliver on their mandate.