School Library Provision and Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Harrod’s (2000), defined school library as an organized collection of books placed in a school for the use of teachers and pupils, but usually for pupils. It may comprise books of reference and or books for home reading and in the care of a professional librarian, or teacher-librarian. It is variously call “Instructional Materials Centre”, “Learning Centre or Media centre.”

The School library serves as a service agency which supports the schools’ objectives and provides materials for all subjects and all interest of pupils and teachers. The school library is a supportive resource of the school curriculum, its provisions, services, and development is directed at aiding school programmes (Kinnel, 1994).

Libraries generally have as their main purpose acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating information to which school library is not an exception. The school library has a vital role to play in the information service. They provide materials relevant to the curricular needs of everybody with the school community. The importance of providing such resources cannot be overemphasized if the school library is to be an instigator of and support for resource based learning in the school.

Also, in relation to information skills, the library and its librarian, make available materials and services in different varieties to allow both pupils and the school community to use these skills in finding the information they need.

The purpose and philosophy of school library service are rapidly being understood and accepted by school administrators and teachers. The fact necessitates that the school librarian be thoroughly familiar with those purposes such as guidance, the reading programme and the enrichment programme for pupils and teachers. However, Albert Academy library has no trained and qualified librarian, who understands and performs those purposes in order to ensure that the service provision is fully attained.

Albert Academy School Library

The Albert Academy was inaugurated on the 4th October 1904. It was until 1975 when the Albert Academy Alumni Association in their meeting thought it wise that such a reputable institution must not go without a library as the development of school libraries was at its highest peak at that time. An idea to erect a library building was born with the collaboration of the alumni association and the owners of the school that is the United Methodist Church. The library was established with the aim of having a place where pupils could go and explore new ideas to further strengthen their school curriculum activities and leisure as well.

The library was officially opened to the entire school community by His Excellency the late Dr. Siaka P. Stevens on 4th October 1976, then President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and also a member of the Albert Academy Alumni Association class of 1922. The library was named after him following the immense contribution he made towards establishing the library for the school community. The Albert Academy Library has a mission to “Support school curriculum activities by providing materials of relevance in the school process and to introduce new and improved information sources to help make the school to be in line with modern standards of education.”

The objectives of the Albert Academy school library are as follows:

I. To provide pupils with library materials and services most appropriate and most meaningful in their growth and development;

ii. To participate fully in school programmes as it strikes to meet the needs of pupils, teachers, parents and others community members;

iii. to stimulate and guide pupils in all phases of their reading that they may find increasing enjoyment and satisfaction and may grow in critical judgment and appreciation;

iv. To make available new development and keep pupils abreast of modern trends in education recognize reader’s needs and keeping them well informed in order to create a well dynamic educational environment;

v. To work with the teacher in the selection and production of educational materials that meet the aims of the curriculum, offer guidance in the use of collection, evaluation of education programmes and materials, facilitates the location, organisation and maintenance of materials efficiently; and

vi. To help pupils to become skilled users of libraries and of printed and audio-visual materials.

Library Provision at Albert Academy School Library

A major role in the information service provided by modern school library is in the provision of materials relevant to the curricular needs of pupils and teachers. In recent years, the curriculum activities have moved to another level, where the school being supportive resource of this movement, must endeavor to house a variety of print and non-print materials and have access where possible to electronic sources of information which are also part of the information resources in the library.

Given the demands of the modern school curriculum, the school library must now house a wide variety of print and non-print materials and have access, where possible, to electronic sources of information. The Albert Academy School provides printed materials, book, fiction and non-fiction as well as pamphlets, newspapers, chart, pictures, monographs, manuals, handbooks, textbooks and other reference books the library also provides non-books materials which include audio and audio-visual materials, slides, tape-slides, video cassettes, and CD ROM’s. Although these are not materials in the traditional sense, they still constitute resources for use by pupils and teachers. Use of electronic sources help school libraries to present pupils and teachers with a concept of a School Information Centre which is not continued to the school but is a link to an unending supply of information (Herring, 1988).

Albert Academy School Library Services

The purpose of establishing Albert Academy School Library is to provide services for both pupils and teachers in a bid to fulfill one of its major purposes, which is to aid curriculum goals by providing services that are indispensably linked to the fulfillment of this purpose.

One of the principal services of the Albert Academy School library is to act as back-up to the under resourced school programme. Even advanced countries cannot easily stock materials ranging from five thousand (5,000) to twenty thousand (20,000) in a small room to provide help to school programmes. Therefore, they see the need for central stock of materials which can be borrowed for differing lengths of time (lending service) and also for reading and consultation services. This is done in order to augment the school curriculum at the Albert Academy which is inclusive of the Basic Sciences and Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities and the Fine Arts.

Albert Academy School library also provides inter-library loan services requests. This is particularly valuable to senior pupils studying topics across subjects offered in depth. Pupils who cannot afford to purchase or access such expensive materials benefit from this type of library service. Through inter-library loan services, materials are sourced from other schools libraries for the benefit of both pupils and teachers.

A reference service is also provided at Albert Academy School library. The School Librarians spend a sizeable proportion of their time providing what in other libraries term would be termed as reference service. In providing a reference service, school Librarians perform a similar role to that of other librarians. In a reference interview in school, each pupil is treated as important as the other and given the Librarian’s full attention. This is achieved by personal assistance given to the pupils and teachers in finding specific information whether direct or indirect. Some of the reference materials at the Albert Academy School Library are dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, yearbooks, biographies newspapers, maps and charts, and the academic and administrative calendar of events or the operation of the school.

One of the most valuable services provided by Albert Academy School library is that of information provision. The Albert Academy School library keeps the teachers and pupils informed about new educational resources and development in the fields of interest to them by displaying the jackets of books that just arrived. The Albert Academy School library uses Current Awareness Services (CAS) to achieve this goal. This is done by identifying the information needs of both teachers and pupils and meeting these needs. Linked to the CAS is the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) and this is more particular with teachers. This ranges from keeping individual teachers informed about new resources in the library or about newly published materials, to alerting teachers to meetings and course demands or event linked to their curricular interest.

Challenges of Library Provision and Services at the Albert Academy School Library

No matter what an organisation has to count as success, is bound to face certain difficulties that stand before it as challenges to its success. School Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially Albert Academy School Library are not without challenges.

To start with the library and its resources have been ignored by the pupils and teachers. Despite their all-important nature of service provision in support to them they do not see it as a valuable part of their activities. This is because most teachers and pupils do not get adequate supply of textbooks and other materials directly linked to the curriculum programme and most teachers prepare pamphlets for sale to pupils from which there teaching is based. This has caused most of the pupils to heavily depend on those sources instead of the library resources.

The School Library has a staffing challenge. For example the Albert Academy School Library has no professional library staff to handle an information service for over two thousand pupils and teachers.

Furthermore, the library has a challenge with space. The space provided for the library from inception is now not enough for the school. The school population in terms of teachers and pupils has grown relatively high to over two thousand (2000) pupils and staff as compared to the space provided for a little over Five hundred (500) pupils and staff about 40 years ago. It has become difficult to access the library and its resources.

In addition, there is a funding problem. The Albert Academy School Library is faced with the difficultly of securing funds from the schools authorities for an effective collection development. The library depends heavily on donations and gifts to stock its collection and most of these materials given in this guise are not reflective of the courses offered in the school curriculum. Often, the school administration has to spread meager financial resources across a wide spectrum of school needs.

The establishment of the computer laboratory with slight internet facilities independent of the school library has also created a problem for the Albert Academy School Library. The teachers and pupils would prefer to visit the Computer centre for Internet services much more that visiting the library. The separation of the Internet facilities from the library services has posed a serious threat to the library provision and services.

Also, it is quite proven that the Albert Academy School Library lacks the capacity to provide for the visually impaired or handicapped. The absence of school library materials in the Braille format prevents blind and the partially sighted pupils to utilize the available library resources in their schools libraries.

Final, the issue of preservation of library materials is not a common practice for the Albert Academy School. This preservation is supposed to ensure that the materials last long because of their frequent use. It has become difficult to access funds to preserve materials that are under threat of wearing out through continuous use.

Despite some gloomy predictions on the future funding of education and possible restrictions on the availability of resources at the Albert Academy School Library, the future of the school library seems assured. It can be argued that because of current educational and technological trends, there has never been a greater need for well-resourced and professionally staffed school library than it is now. The emphasis on the individual’s-the child’s and the adult’s-ability to find and use information effectively is likely to continue in schools, at work and for leisure pursuits. A future society dependent on electronic information for its prosperity will need an information curriculum in its schools. Hence the availability of good school library provision and services in the school curriculum cannot be overemphasised (Kargbo, 2000).

Helping Educators Protect Children – Why Internet Monitoring is Needed

The number of children who use the Internet is soaring. Currently more than 30 million kids under the age of 18 use the Internet. That represents nearly half of the children living in the United States. 14 million children access the information highway from school, a figure that is expected to increase to 44 million by 2003. Also by that year, we believe more students will access the Internet from the classroom than from home according to the Consortium of School Networking.

Over the last decade, while the numbers of people who use the Internet grew, the Internet, and what it is used for, has changed as well. It is no longer a community of scientists and academics. Now, anyone can publish whatever he or she wants on a web site and have an instant worldwide audience. While the World Wide Web opens up a world of information, entertainment, and social interaction to kids, it also gives them access to some very unfriendly information. Today there are nearly 7 million pornography sites on the web and that number increases by the day. Children unwittingly plug an innocuous word into a search engine and not only does the information they seek pop up, but often, so do porn sites, and sites with topics devoted to bomb-making, weaponry, gambling, and drugs. Just like the World Wide Web, if we consider it an entity, does not know the ages of the people who surf it, inappropriate email does not know the age of its addressee, and it shows up in everyone’s email box. Worst of all, the Internet makes it possible for the worst sort of predator, the pedophile, to creep into our schools and homes.

Organizations ranging from schools and hospitals to churches and businesses now rely on the Internet for access to information. It also provides instantaneous access to vendors, suppliers, sales, customer service and more. But with the good, comes some bad. Along with all the vital information that flows across the web, there is also content that is at best inappropriate and at worst illegal. Educators who fail to protect their students from some of this easily obtainable material face a host of problems, including legal liability (last year employees at a public library in Minneapolis filed suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saying that exposure to porn due to patron surfing constituted a hostile work environment) negative publicity, wasted money due to nonproductive use of equipment (excess lines, routers, disk storage and printers, unreliable or slow connections, etc.), and, of course, the human costs, which are incalculable.

Our children are our most precious and vulnerable citizens and they are at risk. But the risk is nott necessarily where we as parents and educators think it is. Law enforcement officers who deal with the growing problem of cyber crime report that web content is one problem, but major criminal activity is taking place in chat rooms, instant messaging applications, and in email. These modes of communication have given predators or pedophiles access to online playgrounds where they find children to virtually, and potentially literally, molest. The Internet has provided these criminals with a means of communicating with millions of children. The fact that they have anonymity means that they are free to pose as anyone they want to.

The problem is larger than we think. Consider that one Midwestern city with a population of 190,000 has 270 registered sex offenders. This is one small city. When a cyber crime enforcement agent in that city recently logged into a chat room posing as a 13-year-old girl, he had ten men wanting to talk sexually with her within 5 minutes!

I. An Overview of the Children’s Internet Protection Act

The Children’s Internet Protection Act was signed into law in December of 2000. The law became effective in April of last year. CIPA mandates the use of blocking, filtering or monitoring technology on computers in public libraries and schools receiving E-rate telecomm discounts or Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) or Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funds to filter harmful to minors material. The law has not been universally praised. Organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Library Association (ALA) have filed suits with the goal of overturning the law.

The ALA believes the legislation is unconstitutional because it limits access to constitutionally protected information that is available on the Internet at public libraries. The bill, introduced by Senator John McCain, the republican from Arizona, requires libraries to adopt acceptable use policies accompanied by technology that would block access to material harmful to minors.

This is obviously a very controversial issue. At one recent hearing about the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a hearing that took place in California, one ALA representative testified that ALA members routinely review books and other material, including videos, music and magazines in order to determine which material is appropriate for their readers. They essentially filter material before it is placed on library shelves. And if it is deemed inappropriate, they block it. At this hearing, a COPA commissioner asked why the ALA does not want to do the same thing for information on the Internet. The only reply from the ALA representative: the information is different. Different is certainly one way to see it!

My question for you is: why should information that is available on the Internet be subject to less strict control than books or magazines or music or video? The material that is published on paper, whether in books or magazines or appears in video form, is scrutinized very carefully, and federal and state laws mandate that minors be prevented from obtaining some of this material. Why should information on the Internet be treated any differently? Why should we allow our children access to such material because it is different? We are not talking about book burning; we are simply questioning the controls in place for this new and easily accessible information source.

I believe that CIPA, COPA and COPPA, along with all the other acts proposed, or those that are already law, have not gone far enough. Our children are not adequately protected. And it is our job to address the issues that affect our children. We have a moral obligation to our future generations to protect them. In our society children mature sooner because of the myriad of instant communications available, unmonitored communication has contributed to the loss of innocence. We must protect our children, and not give the only voice on this subject to those who believe the right to free speech is more important than safety.

II. A Look at the History of Content Controls

In the mid-1990s, reports of the negative experiences that children were having on the Internet began to make headlines. At the 1994 Fall Comdex meeting, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Interactive Services Association issued Child Safety on the Information Highway, the first statement suggesting that parents should monitor their childrren internet activities. As any parent knows, Do’s and Don’ts lists simply do not work. Kids are curious, and whether intentionally or accidentally, will find their way to inappropriate material. If we also consider that an estimated 5 million new or renamed websites are put up every week, it’s easy to understand why it seems impossible to protect ourselves and our children from potentially destructive material. Another approach, limiting access by rating internet content thereby preventing children from accessing harmful content the way that movie theaters prevent children under age 17 from buying tickets to R rated movies has been ineffectual. Only about 150,000 websites, out of the hundreds of millions of web sites, have registered to rate themselves.

Several years ago, in response to concerns from the public, from parents, from educators, and from law-enforcement officers, congress and advocacy groups began to look for ways that the government could control children access to harmful material, a movement that culminated in the Communications Decency Act, an amendment to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

At the same time that the ratings debate waged, companies began to develop filtering and monitoring software products. In 1996 there were just a few; by 1997 there were about 3 dozen and last year, there were more than 100 on the market. There are a variety of products available. Most rely on lists of URLs and then block access to sites that appear to contain pornographic material. If a user attempts to go to such a site, the user receives a message stating that access to this specific site is prohibited. Other applications filter the information on the Internet and look for keywords that indicate the site may contain material that is inappropriate for children. Essentially, the URL blocker blocks the entire site while the filter allows access to the site, but filters out the information that is inappropriate. Opponents say that these approaches overblock content, filtering out references to breast cancer, and to researchers who hold magna cum laude honors, and so on.

Most recently, several products that monitor user activities have been offered to the public. These applications do not block or filter, but rather promote the organization Acceptable Use Policy and monitor the computer user activities. If the user violates the organization Acceptable Use Policy by accessing pornographic or other inappropriate material, the systems administrator or other assigned person is notified. This approach is becoming increasingly popular because when an organization posts its Acceptable Use Policy, and its users know their computer use is being monitored, it puts the responsibility back in the user hands. In other words, if a user knows the Acceptable Use Policy, and he or she chooses to violate the policy, then presumably he or she is willing to suffer the consequences.

III. The Consortium for School Networking

In order to help schools understand the far-reaching on-line safety issues and comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act, the Consortium for School Networking is providing updated resources related to Internet safety. At http://www.safewiredschools.org, school leaders and parents can find a downloadable PowerPoint presentation on factors they must consider for Internet protection. There is also a detailed compliance guide covering all of the requirements of CIPA legislation.

According to the CoSN, when a school decides to manage or monitor the content that their students can access via the Internet, they will need to consider a variety of issues. Among them: Local community and international standards, for the www is an international entity that knows no boundaries, the culture of the school district, the degrees of control that teachers and administrators want to retain, the extent to which teachers and other officials wish to be involved on an ongoing basis, and cost. School administrators will also have to decide whether rules will vary according to children’s ages.

Among the approaches that the CoSN outlines in its briefing:

1. Acceptable Use Policies. Whether or not a school ultimately decides to use a filtering, monitoring or blocking application, it should still have an Acceptable Use Policy which children are aware of before they go online. The National Center for Educational Statistics reported in May of 2001 that 98 percent of schools with Internet access had an Acceptable Use Policy in place. Typically a student and his or her parents will be asked to sign off on the policy at the beginning of the school year. The policy should spell out the consequences a student (or staff member) will face if the policy is violated.

2. Monitoring. School districts may opt to take the approach in which they gives students unlimited access, but monitor the sites that individual students (and staff) have accessed. This gives an administrator the opportunity to respond to a student/staff member who is spending too much time on sites that are obviously not school-related.

3. Blocking/Filtering. Filtering means allowing access to a restricted number of web sites. Access is either limited to a specific list of approved sites, or access is blocks to sites that are considered off limits. Someone ultimately has to decide which sites will be included on the list. Some teachers and school officials may want to retain complete control over that, but others will opt to have a third party manage the process for them.

4. Proxy Servers. Some school districts decide to install filtering software on the district proxy server. It can also be used as a firewall, providing protection from viruses as well as access by hackers and other outsiders.

5. Application Service Providers. This is a relatively new option, whereby a school district hires a company to manage the school’s computer applications from the company’s own servers.

6. Filtered Internet Access. Many Internet service providers that market to schools and families have adopted content controls of their own. Users can then decide whether or not to use the controls.

7. Portals and Search Engines. There are a growing number of search engines and portals aimed at the education market. In some cases the school can configure their system to go straight to that portal or search engine. Administrators will need to carefully consider how restrictive these portals actually are, and whether they allow children to access inappropriate sites though back door methods.

8. Green spaces. Proprietary networks or Intranets designed for children are sometimes referred to as green spaces. They are designed to create closed spaces where children can roam freely among content that has been deemed appropriate for them. Generally speaking, they provide access to a relatively small number of sites.

IV. The Problems Posed by the Internet Today

As is the Internet itself, the tools and solutions we have at our disposal for managing and monitoring content are constantly evolving. Sadly, so are the methods of Internet users and the abusers who prey on children. Blocking and filtering have historically offered adequate protection for our children, but that is no longer reality.

Access to inappropriate information on the Internet is now roughly 25% of the problem. The other 75% of the problem is the material that arrives via chat rooms, instant messaging, email and attachments. Adults whose objective is to do harm to unsuspecting children know that they can find them by way of these seemingly innocuous methods. Predators use email and attachments, instant messaging, and chats to obtain personal information, to send sexually harassing and hate documents; they even use applications such as Word or Notepad to write and send such material. Children unwittingly transport this information via floppy disks and CDs that can be viewed in the classroom. Or they develop personal web sites at home, sites that contain explicit or disallowed material that can be accessed from school. These new problems demand new solutions that can address the full spectrum of problems.

V. What the Future Holds: Filtering, Blocking and Monitoring Tools Available to Educators and Parents Today

As technology changes so must our concepts of the problems created by such changes. The World Wide Web is growing exponentially and is a resource that gives any user access to ANY information, and provides the opportunity for any user to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Regardless of who is checking or how they are checking content, the main problem still exists. The Internet is an instant visual communication tool that has a dark underbelly. Teachers and parents must be made aware of all the dangers, not just those which exist with web content but that which is present in the chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, attachments and applications. We need the tools that will allow us to prevent people with evil intent from gaining access to our children and doing them harm.

South Carolina State University – A Pioneer in Intellectual Education

Degrees and Programs

South Carolina University awards baccalaureate degrees in diverse subjects from biology, engineering technology, education, business, computer science, mathematics, literature and English language. The exclusive programs include a doctoral program in Educational Administration and a recognized master’s degree program in Speech-Language Pathology. At large, these internationally accredited degree programs increase the career opportunities for university students.

Colleges and Schools

There are three colleges and one school within the university campus that not only offer specialized education but also career guidance to the students.

The College of Business and Applied Professional Sciences has five departments namely business administration; accounting, agribusiness and economics; health sciences; military sciences and; family and consumer sciences.

The college of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences houses the four departments of education, human services, visual and performing arts and English and modern languages.

The College of Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technology is home to the three departments of biological and physical sciences, mathematics and computer sciences and; civil and mechanical engineering technology. In addition to these colleges, there is a School of Graduate Studies too.

Library

The Miller F. Whittaker Library was built in 1969, dedicated to Dr. Miller F. Whittaker (the third president of the university). This three storey library with more than 302,768 volumes, 1,028,132 microforms, 974 journals and magazines; has its own website since 1991, making the sources available to students, online. It also has a large collection of federal documents and state publications.

Sports

South Carolina University also sponsors bowling, basketball, golf, volleyball, soccer, softball, cross country, tennis and track for women and; bowling, basketball, tennis, golf, track, cross country, and football for men.