Without doubt, one of the most instrumental places in my life – during my primary school years in the early 80s – was our little school library. The library was situated under a classroom block and I loved our library. I thought it to be a dark and mysterious place, full of old books, new books, funny machines I didn’t know how to use, old book smells, it was perfect. Our librarian was a magician, a wizard, who knew the answers to every question I could throw at her, and I threw many at her! She let me stamp books, play with the card catalogue and I had first dibs on any new book that arrived in the library. I wasn’t the only student who took refuge in the library, we were like a well read gang of misfits who were only up to good. We were readers and dreamers, and had great imaginations, so the dark and mysterious library fit us all terrifically.
Fast forward to today and I now work in a school library, life has come full circle so to speak. Today I get the privilege to watch young students find the joy and wonder in books. I see adamant non-readers find the book that changes their minds; and believe me there is nothing in the world that is better than when that non-reading student tells you that they now love reading. Daily I see the importance of a school space that doesn’t shush, that exists for learning, for pleasure, for friends and a place to have time-out, away from exams and classrooms. Our school library is not a dark and mysterious place, it’s a place full of joy, vibrancy and staff who love their jobs. It is a world away from my dark and mysterious primary school library, but in some ways it is the same – in our library all students are welcome, all students are cared for, all students get encouragement to be who they are, and encouragement to make the library their own. Students absolutely need school libraries and school libraries need and adore their students, it is a perfect fit.