School Libraries As An Effective Instrument For Achieving Academic Excellence



SCHOOL LIBRARIES AS AN EFFECTIVE INSTRUMENT FOR ACHIEVING ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE (A CASE STUDY OF SCHOOLS IN OWERRI TOWN)

The full educational impact of the school library on the academic behavioral pattern of students is yet to be fully understood. Obviously, communication is very vital in human existence. In the increasingly independent modern world of today, the ability to read and communicate forms one of the basic skills for an individual’s survival in the society.

Communication and reading involve some sort of subsequent resource like book and non-book resource with these school libraries represent a major force for academic excellence.

Libraries and teachers agreed that a meaningful knowledge must be in-depth while theorist and practitioners alike that effective communication must be persuasive.

Harold Demsetz (2006) sees communication thus communication seeks to alter the state of knowledge or the feelings of others so that it implicitly attempts to convince and persuade others, that this information is not worth having. Most studies on school library and academic excellence have tended to focus on reading habits/skills, independent learning and others without focusing attention on the instrument responsible for acquiring them and the relationship with its clienteles.

With this Morgan (2003) describes the school library thus:- Long known as the only educational institution that educates silently, which provides a large collection or wide variety of materials specially selected and evaluated for their teaching value and education.

Gagg also contributes his own quota (2008) in school library activities and how to get good results opined that: the detailed guidance in the library materials will be of utmost value in helping even the least experienced reader to get good results, for he is taken step by step through each lesson.

Due to the harmful effects of poor educational standards and performance in examination, can we say with greater clarity and certainty whether the school libraries do or do not improve the educational standards and academic performance of children in post primary institution.

Awoniyi, [2004]emphasizes , teachers ,parents ,librarians and others who express concern about the harmful effects of the fall in our educational standards have raise the spectre  of school library potentials for constructing our intellectual and social horizons by converting “backward readers” in to passive and highly influential “active readers” and “dull students” in to “very bright students”.

 

2.1  CONCEPT SCHOOL LIBRARIES 

Therefore the impacts of school libraries are known to be wide ,varied and complex depending on “what is affected”, “what is changing” , “what is read”, how the process takes place” and when the impact is evidenced”. It is important to not that the effects of that impact are a product of interaction depending on the students view of the library and purpose library usage .Writing on types of library users in and their perception of the library, Dike [2007] note that ,for the non users, either the library or it resources has become it’s friend and instructor .For an average user, it is a sort of friend who informs him of events; educates, advices and offers help while not being boring or noisy. For the captive users, it is a wonderful counselor, a source of knowledge, a framework for academic feat and a guide into areas of life not yet known to him.                                                                            On the whole, the school library promotes education process and it is evidenced that school libraries also has notable influences and effects on the education, performance and academic excellence of students in post primary institutions as well be reviewed in this chapter, for it purposes on citations where researchers, authors and commentators work are cited in addition to that of other various intellects also the researchers contributed her own views.

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2.2   IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL LIBRARY                         To educate citizens, students and teachers of today which is very necessary in our post-primary institutions, it is in realization of the importance of school libraries in the educational process that Chioma [2001] observed that: the school library therefore is not just a conduit pipe in relation to education of a child but invariably a very active factor in the education process.                                                        The two great divisions of the school library is specialization and the actual imparting of knowledge. However in each, resourcefulness is a prime factor. In the imparting of knowledge the school library holds first place. The unforeseen and the unexpected will always arise and give the resourceful library the golden opportunities of being the “world of knowledge”.     In recent years, education has learned a great deal about making school interesting. In most classrooms sincere effort is made to get students involved and create enough interest so that motivation is not a problem. We now know that these efforts have been only partially successful.  In this regard to Allan (2003) had observed that.

The scope of knowledge has become too expensive, too vast to be covered extensively with the boundaries of classroom instruction, superior though may be. Through the school library, these boundaries can be extended immeasurably in all areas of knowledge to meet and stimulate the many interest, appreciation and curiosities of youth.

The human and materials resources needed by the school to establish its inherent educational programs cannot be put in place without the school library. The school reflects and supports the philosophy of the school, it shares and implement the school aims and objectives. It is totally involved in the teaching and learning process and widens the horizon of the students education. It is the place in the school where al most every subject and every interest meet. That is, it brings together in one place books in all subjects and learners and educators interested in them thus it is a symbol of unity.

Commenting further on the importance of the school library, Odiase (2005) observes that the library provides background materials which can be used to enrich the teaching and learning of all subjects. A well organized school library is the most powerful instrument of education.

The school library is important in broadening the students education and in motivating and encouraging students to read. Also let librarians be trained and users (students) be educated on how to use the library for the influence to be felt. The philosophy of education, the quality of teachers, attitude of the students to education, the teaching and learning resources available reading and extraordinary diverse array of knowledge are the product of the school libraries.

As an agency through which the institution of education exerts its influence on students academics, the changes which have take n place as a result of its importance or relevance in the education process these years are nothing less than revolutionary. Expressing their views on the information of school library and books in life and education process of a child, the International Federation of Library Associations Committee (IFLAC) on library work with children highlighted it thus:

Library and books are a stimulus to his intelligence, are incentive to independent thinking, a source of information and enjoyment. They are indispensable tools in education and a child who has learnt to use and enjoy them is better able to continue his studies after leaving school.

 

  • ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARY
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Nike (2001) says “school library is a veritable investment for actualizing the much desired educational reforms”. The above statement underscores the invaluable contributions of the school library in the teaching and learning programs of the school. The role of school libraries in education are inexhaustible though Nickel (2002) attempt to summarize them. In his view, the school library can serve as: A resource center, a learning laboratory, a teaching agency, a service agency, a guidance agency, and a center for recreational reading, viewing and listening. It functions as a vital instrument as well as a basic requirement for quality education by enriching the school curriculum.

The school library satisfies the variety of personal interest developed by the students outside the scope of the school curriculum. Another important role of the school library is in relation to personal development and self improvement. Also the school library is the natural center for all kinds of educational effort, and lessons held in its meeting room are a valuable means of extending education with books in the library to students.

The primary objective of the school library is to implement, complete and supplement the total educational programs of the school. Others includes development of reading skills, literary tastes, discrimination in choice of materials, instructions in the use of library and books, and the development of the school, intellectual and spiritual values of the students and appreciation of their cultural heritage.

Obi (2002) highlights some of the contributions of the school library as follows:

  1. Provides a framework for achievement in present
  2. Schooling and increase students chances of study
  3. Success in other professional pursuit
  4. Provides student with vocational information leading to choice of suitable career.
  5. Help in discovering and developing the special gifts and talents of students.
  6. Train students to study independently by providing a wide range of material for class projects, individual reports, and class assignments.

 

2.4  SERVICES OF SCHOOL LIBRARY

       For most clienteles of a particular library, the overall content of the library does not serve the purpose of meeting the user without such intervening forces of its services which it renders to its clienteles. It becomes necessary to ask “What is the school library trying to do?” “Who is the school library trying to help?” “What service be rendered effectively?” and “How can these materials be organized, stored and made available?”

However it is important to note that the school library is a service oriented institution established to serve the staff and students. The aim of offering these services is to help the school achieve its educational objectives. The library’s effectiveness will depend upon the library services as a whole. It is concerned with the interaction of the user with library as only this can make the library exercise its education role and maintain its educational social and recreational values.

In evaluating the overall effect of the school libraries on students academics, it is important to pose these question: How do such services exert influence on students academics? What academics benefits are there in such services?

The teacher/librarian has the challenging responsibility of getting the students acquainted with the use of the library so that they form reading habit and continues to read and consult books and libraries after leaving school.

Allan, (2003) observes that “giving the children instruction on the use of books and libraries is a basic educational discipline”.

Mc Cleory (2006) maintains that librarians should educate their user on the use of materials in the library by teaching, implementing relevant programs of instruction for groups or individuals and or class. Users should be educated on the development of social collections, services for particular categories of users and cataloging and classification.

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Investigations have revealed that one of the problems inhibiting academic excellence is ignorance or lack of knowledge in the use of the library.  Thus Okpala (2002) contested that: Our contention is that the capability of knowing what, where and how to find information on a student subject needs to be taught, and the total lack of these teaching of this leaves a gap in student knowledge and makes academic pursuit more difficult.

Tactz (2006) rightly observes most library users are unable without help to find the information they need even though more information than ever is actually in the library. In order to cope with the ever increasing volume of knowledge, students need to understand the patterns of communication and how to organize their methods of information retrieval efficiency.

Library orientation is a foundational element of users education. Other relevant topics treated in library period of instruction (user education) include: use of the card catalogue, organization of materials, reference books, borrowing procedures, library regulation, how to gather information and proper care and handling of books. In addition the school library also performs exhibition and display services such as:- Display of books relating to the curriculum or the special class project are very useful in bringing the students to read books other than textbooks. They reveal its resources and help make the students aware of books on topics they may not have had the opportunity to explore.

 

2.5  THE SCHOOL LIBRARY COLLECTION

The school library is no longer as a mere store house of book rather as a preserver and collector of recorded information and knowledge both past and present and future in addition to a transmitter of scholarly information in whatever format they are presented. The stock of a school library is one of the ways its objectives are to be met.

A school library should tock a wide range of books covering many subjects, different reading levels and for extensive reference and research. This is because according to Tyler (2008) Assorted range of books give an opportunity towards the development of interest and habits in reading a wide variety of books that are satisfying and significant to the reader. They provides greater extension to the experience of young people by widely extending the horizon of the reader through various experience. Each materials while containing or giving a great deal of information, is carefully and systematically arranged that they demonstrate inter-relationship of subjects.

 

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