Library professionals have long known the benefits of school library spaces, managed and staffed by qualified library staff. We are all very aware of how vital school libraries are, for a myriad of reasons.
COVID19 has had an enormous impact on how our students learn, access books, resources and libraries. It has also had a significant impact on student wellbeing. Much is being written about the importance of reading for continued well being, including this excellent article written by Dr. Margaret. K. Merga and published on The Conversation on August 9th 2021. She writes “We know that adults who are avid readers enjoy being able to escape into their books. Reading for pleasure can reduce psychological distress and has been related to mental well-being. Reading-based interventions have been used successfully to support children who have experienced trauma. In a recent study, around 60% of young people agreed reading during lockdown helped them to feel better.”
The article draws upon findings from her important research into Libraries as Wellbeing Supportive Spaces in Contemporary Schools published in July of 2021.
Dr. Merga’s findings further reinforce the important work that SLAV completed in 2020. During June 2020, the School Library Association of Victoria surveyed its members in order to gain a picture of what remote learning meant for school libraries during term two. 269 people responded to 20 questions in an online survey.
From the Executive Summary – “The results of this survey clearly indicate the vital role of school libraries in our school communities. There are many examples here of trained library professionals displaying creativity and flexibility in responding to the learning and teaching needs of remote learning. Results clearly demonstrate how a well-staffed and well-resourced school library supports and enriches a school community. This is vital for learning and teaching, but also in support of the general well-being of staff and students and the common pursuit of developing resilient, life-long learners.” You can read the full report which includes a comprehensive reference list – here
From SLAV Executive Officer Dr. Susan La Marca – “The spread of articles published during this period both online and in our journals, on this topic, are excellent examples of best practice responses to remote learning. They also indicate a high level of engagement with the issues related to learning and teaching by school library professionals during a time of disruption. These teacher librarians, and their school library teams, have also demonstrated a level of proactivity, expertise and reflection that is to be celebrated.”