The Roles of Libraries in Teaching and Learning

INTRODUCTION:

Libraries have long served crucial roles in learning. The first great library, in Alexandria two thousand years ago was really the first university. It consisted of a zoo and various cultural artifacts in addition to much of the ancient world’s written knowledge and attracted scholars from around the Mediterranean who lived and worked in a scholarly community for years at a time. Today, the rhetoric associated with the National/Global Information Infrastructure (N/GII) always includes examples of how the vast quantities of information that global networks provide (i.e., digital libraries) will be used in educational settings. An important aspect of the Library’s educational mission is to promote and develop informational literacy in its users. Information literacy, in general, is the ability to identify, locate, use and interpret information effectively.

Role of Modern Libraries:

A library is defined by three fundamental functions:

(1)selection to create a “collection”;
(2) organization to enable access; and
(3) preservation for ongoing use.

Although technologies may evolve to add the second function to the Web, the first and third functions are antithetical to the very nature of today’s Web. The Web’s successor will become more “library-like,” and libraries will continue to become more “Web-like,” but each will retain some essential differences from the other.

The Web is most definitely not a library now, and it probably never will be. But the Web provides a wonderful mechanism for collaboration between and among scholars and librarians who want to create “libraries” of high-quality resources on a particular topic for scholarship and teaching. Another great concern about Web resources is that they are ephemeral. Libraries select and preserve information resources for generations to come. The longevity of Web-based resources is calculated in days!

How do libraries support teaching and learning?

A library is fundamentally an organized set of resources, which include human services as well as the entire spectrum of media (e.g., text, video, hypermedia). Libraries have physical components such as space, equipment, and storage media; intellectual components such as collection policies that determine what materials will be included and organizational schemes that determine how the collection is accessed; and people who manage the physical and intellectual components and interact with users to solve information problems

Libraries serve at least three roles in learning.

First, they serve a practical role in sharing expensive resources. Physical resources such as books and periodicals, films and videos, software and electronic databases, and specialized tools such as projectors, graphics equipment and cameras are shared by a community of users. Human resources–librarians (also called media specialists or information specialists) support instructional programs by responding to the requests of teachers and students (responsive service) and by initiating activities for teachers and students (proactive services). Responsive services include maintaining reserve materials, answering reference questions, providing bibliographic instruction, developing media packages, recommending books or films, and teaching users how to use materials. Proactive services include selective dissemination of information to faculty and students, initiating thematic events, collaborating with instructors to plan instruction, and introducing new instructional methods and tools. In these ways, libraries serve to allow instructors and students to share expensive materials and expertise.

Second, libraries serve a cultural role in preserving and organizing artifacts and ideas. Great works of literature, art, and science must be preserved and made accessible to future learners. Although libraries have traditionally been viewed as facilities for printed artifacts, primary and secondary school libraries often also serve as museums and laboratories. Libraries preserve objects through careful storage procedures, policies of borrowing and use, and repair and maintenance as needed. In addition to preservation, libraries ensure access to materials through indexes, catalogs, and other finding aids that allow learners to locate items appropriate to their needs.

Third, libraries serve social and intellectual roles in bringing together people and ideas. This is distinct from the practical role of sharing resources in that libraries provide a physical place for teachers and learners to meet outside the structure of the classroom, thus allowing people with different perspectives to interact in a knowledge space that is both larger and more general than that shared by any single discipline or affinity group. Browsing a catalog in a library provides a global view for people engaged in specialized study and offers opportunities for serendipitous insights or alternative views. In many respects, libraries serve as centers of interdisciplinary–places shared by learners from all disciplines.

Formal learning is systematic and guided by instruction. Formal learning takes place in courses offered at schools of various kinds and in training courses or programs on the job. The important roles that libraries serve in formal learning are illustrated by their physical prominence on university campuses and the number of courses that make direct use of library services and materials. Most of the information resources in schools are tied directly to the instructional mission. Students or teachers who wish to find information outside this mission have in the past had to travel to other libraries. By making the broad range of information resources discussed below available to students and teachers in schools, digital libraries open new learning opportunities for global rather than strictly local communities.

Much learning in life is informal–opportunistic and strictly under the control of the learner. Learners take advantage of other people, mass media, and the immediate environment during informal learning. The public library system that developed in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century has been called the “free university”, since public libraries were created to provide free access to the world’s knowledge. Public libraries provide classic nonfiction books, a wide range of periodicals, reference sources, and audio and video tapes so that patrons can learn about topics of their own choosing at their own pace and style. Just as computing technology and world-wide telecommunications networks are beginning to change what is possible in formal classrooms, they are changing how individuals pursue personal learning missions.

Professional learning refers to the on going learning adults engage in to do their work and to improve their work-related knowledge and skills. In fact, for many professionals, learning is the central aspect of their work. Like informal learning, it is mainly self-directed, but unlike formal or informal learning, it is focused on a specific field closely linked to job performance, aims to be comprehensive, and is acquired and applied longitudinally. Since professional learning affects job performance, corporations and government agencies support libraries (often called information centers) with information resources specific to the goals of the organization.

The main information resources for professional learning, however, are personal collections of books, reports, and files; subscriptions to journals; and the human networks of colleagues nurtured through professional meetings and various communications. Many of the data sets and computational tools of digital libraries were originally developed to enhance professional learning. The information resources–both physical and human–that support these types of learning are customized for specific missions and have traditionally been physically separated, although common technologies such as printing, photography, and computing are found across all settings.
Role of Digital Libraries:

Digital libraries extend such inter disciplinarily by making diverse information resources available beyond the physical space shared by groups of learners. One of the greatest benefits of digital libraries is bringing together people with formal, informal, and professional learning missions. Many of the data sets and computational tools of digital libraries were originally developed to enhance professional learning. The information resources–both physical and human–that support these types of learning are customized for specific missions and have traditionally been physically separated, although common technologies such as printing, photography, and computing are found across all settings.

Digital libraries combine technology and information resources to allow remote access, breaking down the physical barriers between resources. Although these resources will remain specialized to meet the needs of specific communities of learners, digital libraries will allow teachers and students to take advantage of wider ranges of materials and communicate with people outside the formal learning environment. This will allow more integration of the different types of learning. Although not all students or teachers in formal learning settings will use information resources beyond their circumscribed curriculum and not all professionals will want to interact even occasionally with novices, digital libraries will allow learners of all types to share resources, time and energy, and expertise to their mutual benefits. The following sections illustrate some of the types of information resources that are defining digital libraries.
conclusion:

As research and teaching increasingly rely on global networks for the creation, storage and dissemination of knowledge, the need to educate information-literate students has become more widely recognized. Students often lack the skills necessary to succeed in this rapidly changing environment, and faculty need training and support to make use of new technologies for effective teaching and learning. The current environment provides an opportunity for librarians to play a key role in the evolution of integrated information literacy. Thus, technology itself may provide a positive impetus as, “developments in education and technology are beginning to help academic librarians achieve new breakthroughs in integrating information and technology skills into the curriculum”

Technology allows library services to be available to students and faculty whenever and wherever they need such services. Technology makes possible round-the-clock library services without increasing investment in human resources. In addition, research materials increasingly exist only in digital form. Such resources are available only with the application of technology. Libraries will continue to exploit the inevitable technological innovation to improve productivity, control costs, enrich services, and deliver the high-quality content that is demanded.

Reference:

1. ls.unc.edu/~march/cacm95/main.html
2. educause.edu/pub/er/erm00/pp069073.pdf
3. informationr.net/ir/3-1/paper24.html

The Role of Mobile Libraries in Supporting Education

Introduction

A Mobile library refers to a suitably equipped and reinforced vehicle or bus that visits schools according to a regular schedule, with a resources collection that may be borrowed by learners and teachers. It can also be used to refresh a school’s resource collection by issuing of block loans. This model of library is operated from a central library/depot of resources, such as regional or district education resource center. The mobile library service was initiated chiefly to alleviate the demands for library service at the main libraries by reaching out to the general population with the sole aim of providing accurate and current information to meet the needs in rural schools.

Butdisuwan (2000), defined Mobile library as a library that serves communities and locations that are distant from a local library. They are mostly run from Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturdays.

Knight (2006), defined Mobile Library as a large vehicle for use as a library. It is designed to hold books on shelves so that the books can easily be accessed by readers when the vehicle is parked. The vehicle used usually has enough space for people to read the book inside of it. They are often used to provide library service to villages and city suburbs which have no library buildings. They can also serve groups of those who have difficulty accessing library services.

Niemand (2004), defined Mobile library as a library housed in a large van that provides a live service to those unable to attend their nearest local library.

Requirements for the Operation of a Mobile Library

Some of the requirements needed for the operation of a such services are highlighted thus:

• A teacher-Librarian to manage the overall service;

• Library assistant and a driver;

• Funding for fuel, maintenance and licensing;

• Optional online information and circulation services, linked to parent education library management system, by means of a laptop and scanner;

• A service level agreement with schools involved that clearly articulates the role and responsibilities between the schools and the providers of the service;

• A schedule of regular visits, based on school terms;

• A dedicated budget for collection development and running costs;

• Ongoing training for teachers who have access to the collection; and a

• Monitoring and reporting mechanism (Knight, 2006).

The Role of Mobile Libraries in supporting education

Libraries and information centres do not exist in vacuum. There is always a sound rationale for their operations. Hence the following reasons below express the importance of mobile libraries:

• Move on to service other schools as schools progress towards developing their own school library and information service;

• The school’s library resource is refreshed regularly by mobile library service since the selection is based on the needs of the schools that are visited;

• This service is useful especially in the rural schools, when there is a lack of large organizational capacity and a lack of space to establish a proper library;

• Engage in the sharing of resources which enables learners and teachers to access a wide range of resources;

• Assist the teachers in growing learners to become information literate and develop the reading habit;

• Have other learning interventions such as music, arts, science and technology learning Programmes as part of the School Library and Information Service Programme, which will benefit all learners.

• Target user groups and their information needs in remote communities or other regions where library services are currently unable to stimulate or meet the demand for information;

• Stretch out their services to reach the physically disabled;

• Mobile libraries make reading materials available to various schools based on their different learning needs. Picture books with less complex illustrations, words and information books with many photographs are selected for a class at the preparatory level;

• They play a vital role in times of crises by directing many stakeholders such as citizens, experts and policy makers by providing trustworthy sources of information;

• Building lasting ties with the school community through establishing sustainable partnership by helping to inculcate the habit and culture of reading in the communities;

• Provide read-aloud session and user-education programmes especially when new users are introduced to their services; and

• Provide reference materials such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, atlases, and globes for extensive source of information and references for their patrons (Beenham and Harrison, 1990).

Challenges Faced in the Operating Mobile Library Services

Mobile Libraries operations are not without challenges. These range from a lot of issues as stated below:

• Resources are limited and there is a chance that the appropriate resources could be selected by another school first. Mobile Library is medium is size and referral in nature and most times can accommodate less than fifty (50) users at a time. It also lacks certain facilities such as the bibliographic instructions and the library catalogue which are the keys to the holding of the library;

• The lack of space to read and the time to explore the mobile library is not sufficient. Typically depending on the size of the school population and duration of visit, each class is given thirty (30) minutes to utilise the library. As the number of children and classes increases in schools, the amount of time and space decreases in order to cater for all;

• More so, lack of sufficient trained and qualified personnel is another challenge of mobile library operation. Many a time, mobile library staff lacks the required qualification in the field of librarianship;

• Financial constraints also pose a challenge to running a mobile library. A mobile library needs a recurrent income and expenditure budget in order to augment for its depleted resources over a set of time owing to its consistent usage by users;

• Management of the Service could be problematic, as schools have to be held accountable for items borrowed;

• Distance and terrain present their own challenges especially as the service is limited by the number of buses servicing rural areas;

• Buses can also be a target for thieves especially if they carry computers; and

• Donated buses already customized from other countries need to be serviced locally, while there is also the added attendant of cost of importation clearance.

Indeed, a mobile library service is one of the most important services that library and Information Services use to meet their aims and objectives. There is considerable potential in the use the mobile library services as a support to local or stationary library services but there are also many challenges. There should be therefore commitment on the part of the government of nations, Educational Administrators, Librarians, and National library administrations, in order to achieve quality and sustainability in the development and improvement of mobile library services. Only through their active participation will mobile library services transform the teaching and learning process in education.

Palau Community College – Meeting The Education Needs Of Palau Republic

Palau Community College, a part of college directory was established in 1969. Its beginnings could be traced to a trade school that was functioning from 1927 as a part of Japanese administration before the Second World War. Initially, this college began with just a small number of students as a part of a vocational program on the campus with very limited facilities. In April 1993, this Micronesian occupation center evolved into Palau Community college.

An important part of the college directories, this college is located in the Palau republic and is one of the few sources of higher education for this nation. Palau republic is an island group on the south east side of Philippines. It was a part of US administration but became independent in 1978. A University search reveals that it is one place that has accreditation by Western Association of schools and colleges. This college is spread over an area of around 30 acres.

Functioning

This is a Co-ed college and works on semester system with around 650 students at any one time being a part of this college. Palau Community College has three schools that are part of College directories in this region. These schools include School of Sciences and Arts, business school and Technical education school.

Departments and Courses Offered

Completion certificate, achievement certificate and associate degrees in fourteen various areas are offered as per needs of Micronesian community in this college. It offers programs and certificates in areas such as criminal justice, education, library and information service, environment and marine science, nursing and liberal arts in the arts and science school. In business school, programs offered include tourism, business administration, business accounting, office administration and information technology. Technical education school offers programs in nine different areas such as automotive mechanics, electrical technology, and construction technology among others.

Library and Other Facilities

A University search on Palau Community College library indicates that this library is the official depository for United Nations and World Health Organization among other organizations. It has an extensive collection of documents, material and CD-ROMs amounting to over 26000 in number. This makes it the largest library in Palau republic. The college can provide housing on the campus to between hundred and 120 students. This college also provides facilities called continuing education for individuals who wish to enhance their skills between employments or acquire new skills and it also offers special summer programs.