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Library Curriculum: Do Librarians Need a Curriculum?

By Librarian's Role, Library curriculum No Comments

Education boards in India:

Every education institute has a curriculum to help students learn and succeed. Each school’s curriculum is defined by the education board the school adopts. In India, we have CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) and the State Board, which are often governed by each state. Different states in India have other curricula. The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is similar to GCSE, recognized in the United Kingdom. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) offers four high-quality international education programmes.

Why is a school curriculum meaningful?

The school curriculum helps define the values, expectations, skills, and content.
– Provides standards
– Describes the syllabus for each grade
– Defines skills and content
– Provides a framework for assessments.

This school curriculum also connects the parents, students and the school.

Library curriculum? Is it necessary?

One would argue that students come to the library each week. Do we need a curriculum? Do we need assessments? Do we need syllabi?

Most schools have one or two librarians for the whole school or each section, so it is impossible to assess each student. However, a librarian might ask, are curriculums only related to assessments?

If librarians do not assess, do librarians still need a curriculum?

I think a library curriculum is essential to help the librarians define what needs to be taught and what skills, attitudes, or dispositions the librarian would like to support in the child’s learning journey.

Often the librarian role is defined as an educator who supports or builds a reading culture. The librarian might ask: How do I create a culture of reading, information & media literacy to support teachers and parents? How can I design my library lessons to meet the school’s needs?

The answers to these questions might differ for each school’s librarians. However, an overview of supporting language, reading culture, and information & media literacy skills is the same for all school boards.

Example 1
For a librarian in an IB school, collaboration is a crucial element. Librarians learn the curriculum, purchase resources to support the themes, and, through collaboration, use books and technology tools to help support content knowledge or learner profiles or conduct lessons to reinforce the approaches to learning, including research skills.

Example 2
Suppose the librarian is from a CBSE board. Librarians purchase books, manage library resources, conduct lessons to build a reading culture as well as support students in becoming proficient in navigating the information & media world. How is this going to be accomplished if they do not create a roadmap to build each skill at different standards or classes? The classroom teachers have a sequential progressive outline for each grade level; shouldn’t the librarian have a library roadmap for skills and dispositions?

Example 3
The Librarian in an IGCSE is often the only person who manages the book purchase, library resources, read-aloud sessions, and provides information and literacy skills to each grade level. How will they conduct lessons to create a deep impact and support learning if they do not have guidelines or a plan?

Is a Library Curriculum required?

At the beginning of my career as a librarian, I knew my role was managing resources and holding library classes. I randomly selected books that appealed to me and read them aloud to the children—different books for grades 1, 2, 3 and others. Sometimes, I would re-read the book to the other grade students and change some questions or even ask the same questions to another group of students. I thought I was doing my best, working hard and doing the right thing. I did not realize these random acts of reading were helpful to some degree, students enjoyed the stories, and there was an interest in supporting a reading culture.

Later, I learned the art of creating a library curriculum. Then, I realized why it was important to know why I was reading a picture book. When I understood the purpose of reading each story, I knew the purpose of including comprehension, speaking and listening targets. I knew why I was doing a poetry unit and how much time I would spend on each kind of poetry. I knew the genres I  wanted to introduce to the students, and they were in sync with what was taught in class. When students were doing projects, I could teach the information and media literacy skills on time. This had an impact on students learning a skill when they needed it most. When you are hungry and given a meal, you will enjoy it, and it will nourish your body and mind. Similarly, library lessons become meaningful, purposeful, and conducted on time when a librarian has a curriculum. The library curriculum or scope provides the librarians’ role with direction and structure.

The library curriculum is not developed overnight. It requires time, effort, and support from other librarian colleagues, partners and your curriculum coordinator or your supervisor. Creating a library curriculum becomes a roadmap for the librarian. It documents all the work that the librarian is doing systematically.

Begin, with your library mission, identify skills that are overarching and include all subject matter in the curriculum. And, then design a curriculum for grade 1 and think about what your grade 10 or 12 students should be able to accomplish before they leave school. Use the Ubd- backward design model to achieve your curriculum goals. There are thousands of resources available online. Modify them to meet the needs of your students, and you will feel accomplished. It will become the best professional development for the year.

Learning Never Stops for Librarians

By General, Librarian's Role, Library curriculum, Professional Development No Comments


School Librarians: Learning about eBooks, print books, information & media literacy.

In India, most professional development for national school librarians usually address technical aspects like the OPAC – Online public access catalogue or how to access the books, maintaining the stock of books, and rules for the libraries and purchase of books. During this pandemic, librarians learned different technology tools like google sites, pear deck, Kahoot and other tools to build their technology skills.

However, the Librarians role is changing. Librarians growth lies in the need to work in collaboration with teachers and the school curriculum. Librarians need to read and learn about books & stories and ways to support primary and secondary schools’ teaching and learning to remain relevant. If the librarian works in a progressive environment, professional development is the only way to help them stay relevant to the changing landscape. And, Liferarian Association provides the opportunity.

Professional Development for International School Librarians

International Schools are looking for librarians with multi-literacy skills, information and media literacy knowledge & skills to support elementary and secondary schools. 

Professional Development for Indian School Librarians

With the onset of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Librarians can capitalize on this change in education policy and opt for an opportunity to learn about the curriculum. When included in the staff meetings, librarians can better understand the school curriculum’s needs, thus creating a relevant collection of books for literacy and nonfiction books to support the interdisciplinary approach, experiential learning, and project-based learning mentioned in the education policy. 

The Liferarian Association has initiated two practical courses to help build library skills and knowledge. 

Code 01: Extended essay and Research skills (5 synchronous sessions) – INR 5,500

In this course, participants will learn how to research and teach students how to formulate a research question. Teach students how to identify and cite resources correctly, and it’s importance. Participants will learn and receive practical ways to help students plan, reflect and learn to guide students research and project work.

Code 02: Liferarian’s School Library Course (6 synchronous sessions) – INR 6,500

In this course, participants will learn the importance of a library curriculum and create one relevant to their school. Learn how to read aloud stories by learning about the different literacy strategies like authors’ purpose, inference, analyzing the plot and more. During the writing session, librarians or educators will learn how to write and support creative writing through practical lessons and writing exercises. Besides literacy, participants will learn how to help research skills, project work within the school structure—learning about media, digital citizenship, and advocating for the ethical use of information by understanding copyright and plagiarism concepts. This course will include practical lessons and ideas to empower the librarians.

Some responses and feedback from the workshops were:

  • I didn’t know how important it was to connect with the school curriculum.
  • I now know a lot about copyright, media literacy and the importance of ethical use of information, and now I know how to teach my students.
  • During my classes in this international school, I can now teach information literacy skills.
  • I did not know there were so many aspects of literacy when you read aloud picture books. I now learned how important it is to have focused learning strategies.
  • I discovered that I like to write, and writing involves revisions and thinking.
  • I did not know the Librarians can do so much.

This coursework is for librarians who want to change the way educators think about librarians and evolving with other educators, as learning doesn’t stop. 

IB Librarians – What makes them so special?

By General, IB Profiles, International School, Librarian's Role, Library curriculum, PYP Profiles 7 Comments

IB Librarians – What makes them so unique? People in India, often have an image of a librarian with glasses, stern and someone who hushes you to be quiet. But a librarian at an international school or IB librarians are dynamic and have a growth mindset to learn.

PYP Transdisciplinary Skills – Teacher Pay Teacher (free download)

IB Librarians learn how to connect the IB learner profiles, transdisciplinary skills and concepts to stories and the Units of Inquiry. They are often found using technology tools and various apps to help students share their learning.  IB Librarians connect through read-aloud sessions keeping in mind – Reading with a Purpose, and five keys to storytelling, supporting Literacy. With computers in the hands of the children, it’s important to teach them DigitalCitizenship  (Commonsense Media Guidelines) as a part of the library classes. Of course, all of the resources are guidelines to suit your patrons and learners.

VR Headset by Andri Koolme, Flickr, Under CC-BY 2.0)

Librarians in IB schools wear many hats: one of a curator of resources both print and digital information, they collaborate with teachers to build the collection, they co-teach with classroom teachers, maintain the library, work with the technology department and use technology tools to sharpen students understanding.

Creating with digital tools by Speed of Creativity – CC- BY-NC

They usually have the digital Library platform where they share library news, resources, and information with their learners. Now, librarians are bringing content to students by using Virtual Reality (VR) and Google Expeditions to the units.

Librarians who join international schools are often perplexed about teaching and often ask about a library curriculum. There is no stand-alone curriculum for librarians. However, I guess you will need to create one that combines the ATL or the Transdisciplinary Skills or the AASL or ISTE Standards to match the Units of Inquiry and find various ways and strategies to enrich literacy. These guidelines can give librarians accountability and direction. Many librarians are creating different planners. I was at a conference last November 2017 and the presenter – Doug Johnson recommended adopting ISTE standards. I looked at them carefully and found them to be relevant and robust, precise and attainable. Keeping the standards in mind, you can create engagements to match the Units of Inquiry.

Yes, that’s a lot of work, but I guess when a couple of librarians come together to collaborate and support each other, they can create a unique curriculum that works for their school. There is no “one size fits all” formula at International Schools. Each school is exclusive and therefore forming guidelines/engagements/ standards-based or skills-based structures to suit your learners is something for each librarian to ponder. Collaborating with your curriculum head or coordinator helps give direction. Feel free to email me for a good discussion.