Creating a Positive & Inviting Library Environment

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The environment of the school library can make all the difference in terms of who uses the library, how, and for what. This lesson offers ideas for what makes a library environment welcoming and accessible for all.

The Library Environment

Mrs. Green is so excited to be starting a new job as a school librarian at Littletown Elementary school. She has worked in libraries before, but she is determined to make this library as positive and inviting as possible. Mrs. Green knows that the effort she puts into making this library an open and welcoming place will make all the difference in terms of getting students and families in and making the most of the library time they have. She really wants her students to be lifelong learners and library users, and she knows this goal starts with positive experiences in the school library.

Responding to the Learning Community

To start out, Mrs. Green considers the importance of being responsive to the community at Littletown. This means paying attention to what students, teachers, and families want from the library. Mrs. Green strives to integrate the curricula that teachers are working on into the books she has on display and the skills she teaches students.

Further, Mrs. Green puts out a community survey to find out what teachers and families want from the library. No two schools or communities are the same, and Mrs. Green wants her library environment to respond to the specific needs at her school. For instance, when a group of families mentions wanting a comfortable, quiet place to come with their children after school, Mrs. Green chooses three days when she is able to use volunteers to keep the library open for a few extra hours.

Encouraging Independence

Mrs. Green really wants all students at Littletown Elementary to be independent library users, meaning library users who really how to find what they are looking for in any library. So, rather than finding books for her students, she dedicates lessons to helping students understand how to navigate the computer catalog, how to find different sections of the library, and how to search online as well as print materials for the information they are seeking.

At the same time, of course, Mrs. Green knows that expectations for independence must be catered to the developmental needs of her students. She talks with teachers and does external research to learn more about exactly what she can expect from students at various ages in different developmental domains.

Looking In, Looking Out

The student population at Littletown is diverse racially, culturally, and socioeconomically. There are also many different family constellations represented at the school. Mrs. Green knows that for every student to feel welcome in the library, it is her responsibility to maintain an up to date collection of books representing authors and characters from a wide variety of backgrounds.

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