School Library: The school library is a part and parcel of a school set up. It exists to serve the objectives of its parent institution. The school library awakens and fosters reading habits among children and young students and enlightens their imaginative minds.
a) Definition: School libraries serve elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and higher secondary schools.
b) Objectives: The primary school library aims to create a love for books, generate interest in reading them and slowly develop the habit of reading. The secondary and higher secondary school libraries maintain their identity fulfilling all the requirements of the young students for learning and the teachers for teaching. The main function of a school library is to support various educational programs and to develop students’ skills in locating and using information to perform their class work. Teachers use school libraries to access information needed to develop and support their classroom instruction.
c) Collections: School libraries usually maintain collections in a variety of media. In addition to books, magazines, and newspapers they also contain photographs, films, sound and video recordings, computers, CD-ROMs, games, maps etc. As such, they are sometimes also called library media centers. Most school libraries further enhance their collections by becoming members of school library networks; this allows them to share resources with libraries in other schools.
i) Elementary School Libraries: The elementary school libraries should build up a good stock of books and other learning and teaching materials. Collections should include picture books, biographies of great men and women, books of travel and humor, folk tales, stories of animals and birds, reference books for children, children’s magazines, audio-visual aids like motion films, video-cassettes, models, charts, photographs and toys.
These libraries generally feature children’s illustrated storybooks, colouring books, and audio visual materials. Some elementary school libraries feature computers with children’s educational software.
ii) Middle School and Junior High School Libraries: It should develop an excellent stock of text books, general books on popular science, biographies, travel books, books on sports and games, fiction, short stories, conventional reference books such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, year books, directories, etc., periodicals, audio-visual material and so on.
iii) High School Libraries: Libraries at the high school level (typically Class 8 to 12) have larger and more advanced collections than the lower grade libraries.
d) Services: The service rendered by different types of libraries is as follows-
i) Elementary School Libraries: Elementary school libraries play a central role in early childhood education by offering the young children some of their earliest encounters with books and other resources. The librarian helps the students to cultivate the habit of using library, not only with reference to their reading for course requirements but also for reading for pleasure, general knowledge and recreation.
ii) Middle School and Junior High School Libraries: Libraries at the middle school or junior high school level (typically Class six and seven) concentrate on maintaining students’ interest in gaining information and developing ideas. To adequately support classroom assignments, middle school and junior high school libraries usually offer larger and more varied collections than those at the elementary level. They also often supplement these collections with computer databases and more sophisticated bibliographic tools. Most school libraries also contain reference materials such as encyclopedias as well as fiction and nonfiction books. They also give proper orientation to search through the school library’s catalogue, find a book on the shelves, and check out the book from the circulation desk. A growing number of schools at this stage encourage students to come to the library throughout the day to complete the class assignments, to read for pleasure, and to meet and work with their peers. This flexible scheduling allows schools to integrate library resources into daily classroom instruction. It helps the parent organization in the achievement of the educational programmes by providing materials to supplement and enrich the subjects taught in the class-room. It suggests readings, supplies materials, and stimulates interests.
iii) High School Libraries: These libraries are of larger type to accommodate at least 15-25 percent of the entire student body at any given time. The best-equipped high school libraries feature reference collection, computer labs, the reading room, well equipped seminar or conference hall etc. Most high school libraries also include separate areas devoted to college or vocational preparation. These areas typically contain information on individual colleges, examples of college applications, vocational aptitude tests, and other materials designed to provide guidance for graduating high school students.