A Well-designed Library

The Primary School library should be a fun and exciting environment where pupils feel comfortable at any time of the day not just in library lessons. The pupil who is surrounded with good books of all kinds reaches out beyond the classroom routine and becomes involved in learning under the most productive system of all, for their learning is self -directed.

While the library in the primary school is of comparatively recent development its effectiveness in the learning process has been demonstrated so that it is now firmly established as a necessary part of a good modern school. From its inception the primary school has been chiefly concerned with the teaching of the so-called ‘fundamental subjects’, among which reading has been a prime concern. The development of skills in reading continues to be of outstanding importance, but the techniques for promoting the skills have undergone change. The primary school of the past was entirely dependent on textbooks. Learning by rote was considered the end of teaching. Today however, educators are aware that learning is accelerated and broadened by the use of many and varied devices and materials. The library becomes increasingly important in the new teaching, for not only does it supply enrichment materials in all areas, it also supplies materials at all levels of difficulty.

There is a vital relationship between reading skills and reading activities. The reading programme at the beginning is of course concerned with the instruction of reading techniques but it stresses understanding and interest on the part of the pupil. A programme must therefore supply pupils with something to read and this is best done when a school possesses a library containing a liberal collection of books at all levels and in a variety of genre. As pupils progress with reading their curiosity can be stimulated more and more to seek answers through print.

It is only through extensive reading that a pupil is able to develop judgement about books and to acquire standards of appreciation and taste. The library affords this opportunity to explore books, to taste and choose, to read and absorb, to widen horizons. The library also affords a place for reference reading and for obtaining information. The pupils’ own satisfaction as an independent worker cannot be overestimated.

More than 60 education and library research studies have produced clear evidence that well-designed and equipped primary school libraries have a positive impact on pupil’s academic achievement. These studies clearly demonstrate that strong school library programmes help all students do better academically and pupils who don’t speak English at home can be among those who benefit most.

It is with these findings to hand that POWIIS Primary has designed the library. It will be a fun place to be with a variety of seating both formal and informal. The shelving will be modern, in some cases forming part of tree structures, and will be accessible to all ages. Different floor levels will enable teachers to encourage impromptu plays to be performed or public speaking techniques to be developed. It will of course also be home to an ever growing array of books both fictional and non-fictional which will inspire pupils.

No habit acquired at school is likely to be of more lasting benefit than the habit of reading and the ability to use books for information and reading. Tim Brighouse, associate professor at the Institute of Education, University of London is quoted as saying “A primary school library should be exciting and welcoming, a place for children to delight in stories and a sign that the school is making the environment fit for learning”. POWIIS Primary will have such a place.