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Chapter 12 William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

Use the Library Media Center More Effectively

The elementary school library media center contains a wealth of information that supplements and enriches classroom curriculum. But this wealth, if untapped, remains ineffectual. The responsibility of teaching students how to use the library effectively rests upon the shoulders of the elementary teacher. If students learn during their formative years that library visits can be fun and interesting, chances are they will continue using the library in later years. For many children, reading is a drudgery. This attitude issues a challenge to teachers - a challenge that must be answered with positive action. One positive step is to obtain books and other media from the school systems main library and display them attractively in the classroom to pique the childrens interest. If children see colorful displays, often they will take a closer look. Teach the students about the library media center's physical arrangement of childrens books, media and special reference books. Ask the librarian to explain to the class the librarys system for filing books and media, like DVD's in the individual sections. Emphasize to the students that they are to make an honest effort to find books and other materials before asking the teacher or librarian for assistance. The basic procedures and regulations for checking out of the library materials must also be reviewed. If books are examined by children at a reading table, instruct them to leave those on the table for library helpers to properly shelve later. Give the children an opportunity to use the library media center for projects in language arts, social studies, science, independent reading, and other subjects. Arrange with the librarian for the class to spend at least thirty minutes per week in the library. Accompany the class to the library and occasionally remain with them. A great deal can be learned by assisting the librarian during this week. This period can be earmarked for special projects or simply as a time for pleasure reading. Current issues of magazines with intrinsic educational value are usually available in the school library. Guide students to magazines such as National Geographic, 34

Popular Science, Holiday, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Life, Time, and others that may be on display. Carefully screen any magazines, books, or any media that may have been contributed by members of the community. Ask the librarian for permission to set up displays to exhibit special work. This informs teachers, principals, parents, and other children of classroom activities and instills a sense of pride in each child whose work is on display. Elementary children face increased responsibility for independent study. An excellent library media center meets the needs of these children by providing individual study carrels and rooms for small group study and conferences. The media center must also provide large televisions, record players, earphones or headsets for silent reading and listening, booths for computers, and tape recorders. Computers and listening stations give added educational support to the total instructional program. Notify the librarian of children who need special attention in the library and ask they be given professional assistance. Students ultimately benefit from cooperation between teacher and librarian. Unpleasant feelings often result because librarians are not notified that a class will be tardy. If the regularly scheduled class library time must be postponed or canceled, inform the librarian as soon as possible so other arrangements can be made to maximize the use of the library facilities. After planning a study unit, it is a good idea to submit a copy to the librarian approximately six weeks before beginning the study. This gives the librarian time to assemble supplemental reading and listening materials for the class in order to enhance learning opportunities for students. Consulting with the librarian before class assignments are made prevents problems caused by unavailability of materials. If informed before hand, the librarian can reserve the necessary reference material for the class. Impress upon the class their role in the library media center and the center's role in their academic lives. Overdue books are cause for concern. Teach children to be responsible for borrowed books and other materials. This will develop good human relations between the class, teacher and librarian. 35

The children must fully understand that the library media center is a place for studying as well as for quiet reading. In order to maintain a proper environment, children must refrain from making excessive noise during visits. Developing library courtesy ensures that class visits will be welcomed and the excursion will be a happy one. The library media center must not be used to discipline students. Library visits are a privilege and not punishment. Get the children actively involved in the library media center by allowing them to be helpers. A rotating schedule can be developed so each child has an opportunity to serve in this role. If a full time librarian is not present at the elementary level, teachers must accept the library media center's responsibilities on a rotating basis. These would include supervising the proper shelving of books and other materials, keeping accurate circulation records, and guiding children in the selection of books and other media in order to help them develop diversified reading and listening habits. Also, maintain library bulletin boards. A well-planned, colorful exhibit is appealing and can stimulate students interest for reading. Visit book fairs to become apprised of new reading materials and other media that are available. Jot down the title, authors name, publisher, and price of interesting books, DVD's, CD's and ask the school to purchase them. Plan to use these for class projects. Finally, support the library media center and its value in the school. Be quick to express positive feelings honestly during meetings or conferences. This positive feedback may inspire fellow faculty members who were not aware of the library media center services to utilize the media center for more class study projects. Connecting the elementary library media specialist and classroom teachers to plan together for crosscurricular integration and to promote more class study projects tend to promote a sense of unity. Collaboration of this nature will assure up-to-date and relevant library media center holdings that will benefit the teacher as well as the student. Once it is clearly understood that the library media center goes beyond a place to only check out books but has a technological focus, support will increase from within and outside of the 36

educational arena. Grants and other financial streams may be avenues for obtaining monies to support the integrative holdings in the media center. . A Thought in Words Of all created things, the loveliest and most divine are children. William Canton