Novel way to learn

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
As a literacy co-ordinator, I've noticed a clear link between library use and academic achievement. Children who spend time with books always seem to develop a love of learning. This course looks at ways of improving your school library and encouraging more children to use it.

You need a space that's soft, warm and welcoming. Cushions and comfy chairs can make all the difference. It should be a sociable place where children can form new friendship groups. You also need to make it as easy as possible to borrow books. At our school, instead of a ticketing system, we trust children to bring books back. And they do.

But the key message is that the success of a library depends on the quality of its stock. The shelf life of a factual book is about eight to 10 years. After that, they become outdated and it's time for them to be replaced. I've always hated throwing out books, but the course leader explained how they can be recycled or sent to developing countries.

Our library is arranged into different study areas, linked to school subjects. But the course encouraged us to also classify using the Dewey system, because that's what children will be using at secondary school. It's important to teach them sound research habits.

A good library has something for everyone. There's a place for computers, DVDs and other resources, but books are still at the heart of things. Children just love the fact that they can handle a book and take ownership of it. It involves them in a far deeper way than searching on the internet

Christine Garbett is literacy co-ordinator at St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Crewe. She was talking to Steven Hastings

The details

Developing the Primary School Library is run by the School Library Association (SLA). The next courses are on March 17 in Enfield, north London, and April 29 in Lambeth, south London. Cost pound;115 for SLA members and pound;160 for non-members. www.sla.org.uk.

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