What is a resource? Dictionary.com says it is, “a source of supply, support, or aid, especially one that can be readily drawn upon when needed.” Does this describe the current state of our Libraries? Even our computer labs, media labs, SAL rooms and teacher supplies are not always utilized as the resources they are. This is mostly because they are not organized and maintained as they should be.
There are setbacks. We don’t have staff whose purpose it is to maintain these resources. They suffer from the “tragedy of the commons.” This is usually applied to the idea that because our environment is “common space” it is not taken care of as it should be. This idea was first promoted by Garet Hardin. He said, “If a resource is held in common for use by all, then ultimately that resource will be destroyed. ‘Freedom in a common brings ruin to all.'” I think this idea also applies to our common spaces in the schools, because there is not a set system for management and maintenance. The job falls to everyone and so no one does it.
Here is a fun game that demonstrates the “tragedy of the commons.” http://www.bunnygame.org/
So, narrowing this down to using the library as a resource–what should that entail? How can we make sure that we can access the materials we have and use them to the benefit of our students. Here are some ideas:
1. Organize! Make sure books are sorted and labeled properly according to type (ficton or non-fiction), reading level, and topic.
2. Maintain- make sure there is a system for children to know how to take, treat, and put back books. They need to be taught this system, and it needs to be modeled and reinforced.
3. Use- Use the library for the resource it is! Pull out books that go along with the topic you are teaching and use them in the classroom. Use the books for “daily 5” activities. Let the kids read for fun! Set up reading programs and incentives. Don’t let those books collect dust! Use them!
This topic will be expanded in further posts. At the moment, in one of my schools, we are sorting, labeling, and displaying the library books. We have also devised a system for making sure books are respected and put back where they belong.