The school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens.
The Mission of the School Library
The school library offers learning services, books and resources that enable all members of the school community to become critical thinkers and effective users of information in all formats and media. School Libraries link to the wider library and information network in accord with the principles in the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto.
The library staff support the use of books and other information sources, ranging from the fictional to the documentary, from print to electronic, both on-site and remote. The materials complement and enrich textbooks, teaching materials and methodologies.
It has been demonstrated that, when librarians and teachers work together, students achieve higher levels of literacy, reading, learning, problem-solving and information and communication technology skills.
School library services must be provided equally to all members of the school community, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, nationality, language, professional or social status. Specific services and materials must be provided for those who are unable to use mainstream library services and materials.
Access to services and collections should be based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms, and should not be subject to any form of ideological, political or religious censorship, or to commercial pressures.
Funding legislation and networks
The school library is essential to every long-term strategy for literacy, education, information provision and economic, social and cultural development. As the responsibility of local, regional and national authorities, it must be supported by specific legislation and policies. School Libraries must have adequate and sustained funding for trained staff, materials, technologies and facilities. They must be free of charge.
The school library is an essential partner in the local, regional and national library and information network.
Where the school library shares facilities and/or resources with another type of library, such as a public library, the unique aims of the school library must be acknowledged and maintained.
Goals of the school library
The school library is integral to the educational process.
The following are essential to the development of literacy, information literacy, teaching, learning and culture and are core school library services:
- supporting and enhancing educational goals as outlined in the school’s mission and curriculum;
- developing and sustaining in children the habit and enjoyment of reading and learning, and the use of libraries throughout their lives;
- offering opportunities for experiences in creating and using information for knowledge, understanding, imagination and enjoyment;
- supporting all students in learning and practising skills for evaluating and using information, regardless of form, format or medium, including sensitivity to the modes of communication within the community;
- providing access to local, regional, national and global resources and opportunities that expose learners to diverse ideas, experiences and opinions;
- organizing activities that encourage cultural and social awareness and sensitivity;
- working with students, teachers, administrators and parents to achieve the mission of the school;
- proclaiming the concept that intellectual freedom and access to information are essential to effective and responsible citizenship and participation in a democracy;
- promoting reading and the resources and services of the school library to the whole school community and beyond.
The school library fulfils these functions by developing policies and services, selecting and acquiring resources, providing physical and intellectual access to appropriate sources of information, providing instructional facilities, and employing trained staff.
The school librarian is the professionally qualified staff member responsible for planning and managing the school library, supported by as adequate staffing as possible, working together with all members of the school community, and liaising with the public library and others.
The role of school librarians will vary according to the budget and the curriculum and teaching methodology of the schools, within the national legal and financial framework. Within specific contexts, there are general areas of knowledge that are vital if school librarians are to develop and operate effective school library services: resource, library, and information management and teaching.
In an increasingly networked environment, school librarians must be competent in planning and teaching different information-handling skills to both teachers and students. Therefore they must continue their professional training and development.
Operation and Management
To ensure effective and accountable operations:
- the policy on school library services must be formulated to define goals, priorities and services in relation to the school’s curriculum;
- the school library must be organized and maintained according to professional standards;
- services must be accessible to all members of the school community and operate within the context of the local community;
- co-operation with teachers, senior school management, administrators, parents, other librarians and information professionals, and community groups must be encouraged.
Implementing the Manifesto
Governments, through their ministries responsible for education, are urged to develop strategies, policies and plans which implement the principles of this Manifesto. Plans should include the dissemination of the Manifesto to initial and continuing training programmes for librarians and teachers.