School Library Supply and Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Harrod’s (2000), defined school library as an organized collection of books located in a school for use by teachers and students, but usually for students. It may include reference books and or books for home reading and in the care of a professional librarian or teacher-librarian. It is variously called “Instructional Material Center”, “Learning Center or Media Center.”

The school library serves as a service agency that supports the goals of the schools and provides material for all subjects and all interests of students and teachers. The school library is a supportive resource for the school curriculum, its provisions, services and development aimed at assisting school programs (Kinnel, 1994).

Libraries generally have the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of information, for which school libraries are not an exception. The school library has an important role to play in the information service. They provide materials that are relevant to the academic needs of everyone in the school community. The importance of providing such resources cannot be emphasized if the school library is to be an initiator of and support for resource-based learning in the school.

In relation to information literacy, the librarian and its librarian provide materials and services of various sorts to allow both students and the school community to use these skills to find the information they need.

The purpose and philosophy of school library service is quickly understood and accepted by school administrators and teachers. The fact requires the school librarian to be thoroughly familiar with these purposes, such as tutoring, the reading program, and the enrichment program for students and teachers. However, the Albert Academy Library has no trained and qualified librarian who understands and performs these purposes to ensure that the service is fully achieved.

Albert Academy School Library

The Albert Academy was inaugurated on October 4, 1904. It was not until 1975 when the Albert Academy Alumni Association considered it wise that such a reputable institution should not go without a library, as the development of school libraries was at its peak highlight of that time. An idea to erect a library building was born in collaboration with the alumni association and the owners of the school that is United Methodist Church. The library was created for the purpose of having a place where students could go and explore new ideas to further strengthen their school curriculum activities and leisure.

The library was officially opened to the entire school community by Hans Excellency, the late Dr. Siaka P. Stevens, October 4, 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 for the tremendous contribution he made to establishing the Library for the School Community. The Albert Academy Library has a mission to “support school curriculum activities by providing materials that are relevant to the school process and to introduce new and improved sources of information that help make the school conform to modern educational standards.”

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

I. To provide students with library material and services that are most appropriate and meaningful in their growth and development;

ii. To participate fully in school programs as it strives to meet the needs of students, teachers, parents and other members of the community;

iii. to stimulate and guide students at all stages of their reading, that they may find increasing joy and satisfaction, and may grow in critical judgment and appreciation;

iv. Providing new development and keeping students up to date with modern trends in education, recognizing the needs of the reader and keeping them well informed to create a good dynamic educational environment;

v. To work with the teacher in the selection and production of educational material that meets the objectives of the curriculum, offer guidance on the use of collection, evaluation of educational programs and materials, facilitate placement, organization and maintenance of materials effectively; and

I saw. To help students become proficient users of libraries and printed and audiovisual material.

Library Supply at the Albert Academy School Library

An important role in the information service provided by the modern school library is the provision of materials relevant to the curriculum needs of students and teachers. In recent years, the curriculum activities have been moved to another level where the school supports the support of this movement, must endeavor to house a variety of printed and unprinted materials and, if possible, have access to electronic information sources that are also part of the information resources in the library.

Given the requirements of the modern school curriculum, the school library must now contain a wide variety of printed and unprinted materials and, where possible, have access to electronic sources of information. Albert Academy School supplies printed materials, book, fiction and non-fiction as well as booklets, newspapers, diagrams, images, monographs, manuals, manuals, textbooks and other reference books. The library also offers non-book material that includes audio and audio visual materials, slides, tape slides, video cassettes and CD ROMs. While these are not materials in the traditional sense, they still constitute resources for use by students and teachers. Using electronic sources, school libraries help present students and teachers with a concept of a school information center that is not passed on to the school, but is a link to an endless supply of information (Herring, 1988).

Albert Academy School Library Services

The purpose of establishing the Albert Academy School Library is to provide services to both students and teachers in an effort to fulfill one of its main objectives, which is to help curriculum goals by providing services that are indispensable to the fulfillment of this purpose.

One of the most important services in the Albert Academy School library is to serve as a backup for the school program under resources. Even advanced countries cannot easily store materials ranging from five thousand (5,000) to twenty thousand (20,000) in a small space to provide assistance with school programs. Therefore, they see the need for a central repository of materials that can be borrowed for different periods of time (lending service) and also for reading and consulting services. This is done to expand the curriculum at the Albert Academy, which includes the basic sciences and technology, social sciences, the humanities and the arts.

The Albert Academy School Library also provides interlibrary loan loan requests. This is especially valuable for older students who study topics across topics offered in depth. Students who cannot afford to buy or access such expensive materials benefit from this type of library service. Through interlibrary loan services, materials are retrieved from other school libraries for the benefit of both students and teachers.

A reference service is also provided at the Albert Academy School library. The school librarians spend a significant portion of their time delivering what is at other libraries will be referred to as a reference service. When providing a reference service, school librarians perform a similar role to that of other librarians. In a reference interview at school, each student is treated as important as the other and gets the full attention of the librarian. This is achieved through personal assistance given to students and teachers to find specific information, whether direct or indirect. Some of the reference materials at the Albert Academy School Library are dictionaries, encyclopedias, libraries, yearbooks, biographies, newspapers, maps and charts, and the academic and administrative calendar of events or school operations.

One of the most valuable services provided by the Albert Academy School library is information services. The Albert Academy School Library keeps teachers and students informed about new educational resources and developments in the areas they are interested in by showing the jackets on books that have 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 students and meeting those needs. Associated with CAS is selective dissemination of information (SDI), and this is more specifically with teachers. This ranges from keeping individual teachers informed about new resources in the library or newly published materials, to alerting teachers about meetings and course requirements or event related to their curriculum interest.

Challenges with Library Offering and Services at the Albert Academy School Library

Whatever an organization should count as success, it is bound to face certain difficulties that face it as challenges to its success. School libraries in Sierra Leone, especially the Albert Academy school library, are not without challenges.

To begin with, the library and its resources have been ignored by students and teachers. Despite their very important nature of service to support them, they do not see it as a valuable part of their activities. This is because most teachers and students do not have sufficient supplies of textbooks and other materials directly linked to the curriculum, and most teachers prepare leaflets for sale to students from which the teaching is based. This has caused most of the students to rely heavily on these sources rather than library resources.

The school library has a staff challenge. Eg. The Albert Academy School Library does not have professional library staff to handle an information service for over two thousand students and teachers.

In addition, the library has a challenge with the space. The space available to the library from the start is now not enough for the school. The school population with regard to teachers and pupils has grown relatively high to over two thousand (2000) pupils and staff compared to the space for just over Five hundred (500) pupils and staff for approx. 40 years ago. Access to the library and its resources has become difficult.

In addition, there is a funding problem. The Albert Academy School Library faces the difficulty of securing funds from school authorities for efficient collection development. The library relies heavily on donations and gifts to stock its collection, and most of these materials provided in this cover do not reflect the courses offered in the school curriculum. Often, school administration has to spread small financial resources across a broad spectrum of school needs.

The creation of the computer lab with smaller internet facilities independent of the school library has also created a problem for the Albert Academy School Library. Teachers and students prefer to visit the Computer Center for Internet Services much more than visiting the library. The separation of Internet facilities from library services has posed a serious threat to library services and services.

It is also well proven that the Albert Academy School Library lacks the capacity to provide for the visually impaired or disabled. The absence of school library material in Braille format prevents blind and partially sighted students from using the available library resources in their school libraries.

Finally, the issue of preserving library material is not a common practice for Albert Academy School. This preservation must ensure that the materials last for a long time due to their frequent use. It has become difficult to access funds for preservation of materials that are threatened with wear and tear by continuous use.

Despite some bleak predictions about 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 guaranteed. It can be argued that because of the current educational and technological trends, there has never been a greater need for well-equipped and professionally staffed school libraries than it is now. The emphasis on an individual’s child and adult’s ability to find and use information effectively is likely to continue in schools, in the workplace and in leisure activities. A future society that relies on electronic information for its prosperity needs an information plan at its schools. Therefore, the availability of good school library services and services in the school curriculum is not overweight (Kargbo, 2000).