Headmaster’s view of the school library

The concept of a school library has long been a legislative requirement in Sweden. A school library has long been part of the Swedish Library Act. But as this act did not indicate sufficiently clearly to the schools (read headmasters) that a school library was important and mandatory, the requirement was made part of the Swedish School Act itself. In addition, and at the same time, those laws which made our independent schools exceptions were removed.

Since 1 July 2011, they too must provide access to a school library for their pupils. The fact that the school library has now been incorporated in the Swedish Schools Act has created a need to define what a school library is. This is what the Swedish National Agency for Education and the Swedish Schools Inspectorate have been attempting to do.

I am the headmaster

My job is to ensure that the pupils at my school do as well as they possibly can. This applies to grades, social skills, democratic assessments, culture, general education et cetera. The school’s remit, and responsibility, is extensive.

To help me in this very important task I have access to many hardworking staff members. Top-quality teachers of course, but also administrators, service staff, student nurses, study mentors and school governors, and also the school librarians who work in our school library.

School life today, in 2013, demands a lot from pupils. To go to school is a challenge. But the requirements on staff are also much higher. These requirements often revolve around knowledge of different approaches and the ability to assimilate and convey this knowledge. This is important especially now when there is so much going on in terms of the digitisation of schools. More required today Schools today are different to when I was a pupil. It was sufficient to be good at listening to the teacher and reading books.

That was then! So much more is required of pupils today. The pupils have to be absolutely ready to listen, read, write etc. But there are now so many ways to gather information that you also need the ability to use these, essentially, fantastic opportunities.

At our school we have a school library which has been the recipient of a prize for being an important part if the pupils’ path to knowledge. The skill of our proficient librarians is a natural complement to teaching.

An absolute must

As a headmaster, I regard a wellfunctioning school library as an absolute must for me to be able to achieve my goals and fulfil my ambitions.We talk about giving pupils “Sound knowledge through pleasurable teaching”.

This is achieved partly by means of demanding theoretical studies, partly by means of digital technology. By providing a library and librarians in attendance, we can support the pupils in everything from the provision of literature, information skills and source  criticism. All things which are important in today’s society and therefore important skills which we must also train our pupils to acquire.

The collaboration which materialises between teachers and librarians creates opportunities for delving deeper and for interesting meetings. The fact that as a pupil you can have a teaching experience with your teacher during the lesson in order then for such work to progress with the help of a librarian I regard as an important part of preparing pupils for further studies at college and university. Through collaboration between professions we provide important development opportunities for pupils.

 

Headmaster Pauli gymnasium
The Swedish National Agency for Education’s definition of a school library
“A shared and well-regulated resource comprised of media and information which is put at the disposal of the pupils and teachers with the help of competent staff. The school library is a part of the school’s teaching activities with the task of supporting the pupils’ learning. The school library can therefore be regarded partly as a material resource which is part of a school’s teachings aids and other tools and partly as a function which actively contributes to the development of knowledge and is responsible for certain services.” SourceSkolinspektionen    
The Swedish National Agency for Education’s requirements for a school library
  1. The pupils have access to a school library on their own school premises or at a reasonable distance from the school which makes it possible to regularly use the library as a part of the pupils’ education in order to contribute to achieving the objectives of this.
  2. The library contains books, professional literature and fiction, information technology and other media.
  3. The library is adapted to the pupils’ needs in terms of promoting language development and stimulating reading.
Source: Skolinspektionen