October is Canadian Library Month, an opportunity to celebrate innovation in libraries from all sectors, including school libraries. Manitoba School Library Association president and CSL Working Group member Jo-Anne Gibson reached out to provincial associations across the country to see how they are celebrating school libraries’ contributions to education.
Celebrating School Libraries Across Canada
School libraries across the country will be celebrating Canadian School Library Day on Monday, October 24, 2016. Promoted by the Canadian Library Association since 2004 to its dissolution in 2015, Canadian School Library Day is now a grassroots movement celebrating and uniting school libraries across the country.
Canadian School Library Day celebrates the central role that school libraries play in the education and development of young people. As they evolve into school-wide learning commons, libraries are taking on more responsibility for supporting all kinds of learning, from experiential to digital. Much more than custodians of resources and managers of floor space, school libraries have embraced the issues raised by new technology and the needs of the 21st century learner.
But libraries still have books and school libraries are still committed to promoting literacy and the love of reading, a theme recognized by many of the events organized in various provinces, school districts and individual schools throughout Canada on Canadian School Library Day. The provincial school library association in British Columbia (BCTLA) and Manitoba (MSLA) have both challenged all their schools to drop everything and read at 11:00 a.m.on October 24th to highlight the importance of school libraries in the educational lives of students.
B.C. will try to beat their record from last year which saw 66,500 students from across the province dropping everything and reading. Last year it was also reported that reading spilled out into the community with at least one mall and insurance company taking part in the challenge. Some schools even had members of the government and firefighters coming to read to their students in their libraries and classrooms. This year’s BCTLA’s theme for their D.E.A.R. day is “Share-Celebrate-Advocate.”
Manitoba is another province that is particularly proud of their school library day. The Government of Manitoba, through its Ministry of Education, recognizes the unique impact school libraries have on literacy and learning by declaring the last Monday in October, “Manitoba School Library Day.” The theme for their day is “School Libraries: Where Creativity and Learning Begins.” Thousands of students, teachers, principals and support staff will be dropping everything and reading throughout the province to celebrate this special day for school libraries.
The Ontario School Library Association supports Library Learning Commons in schools across Ontario as they celebrate October 24th with a broad variety of events to engage their communities. Many schools are participating in a D.E.A.R. activity, either cross-grade in their libraries, or across entire schools. Others are using this day to launch their OLA Forest of Reading book clubs, as the 2017 nominees were just announced October 14th. There are Library Learning Commons in both elementary and secondary schools hosting MakerSpace activities, board games, trivia contests, and Lego building challenges: events which clearly demonstrate the diverse interests and needs served by school libraries. The OLA embraces Canadian School Library Day as an opportunity to remind our students, teachers, and parents that the school library is a great place to connect, learn, and share.
Nepean High School is one example of many schools in the Ottawa region that will take time on October 24th to salute school libraries. Over forty adult members of the Nepean High School community will be coming to the school to read aloud to classes and share their love of reading. Readers will include local MP the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustees and senior staff, the Imam of the Ottawa Mosque, Olympic kayaker Michael Tayler, retired teachers and many prominent and active members of the school community who will read from a wide variety of books.
“We know that students enjoy being read to,” says teacher-librarian Glenn Turner. “And the research shows that this can change both kids’ attitudes towards reading and their reading abilities.”
In recognition of the importance of school libraries, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has proclaimed October 24, 2016 as “National School Library Day”.
Submitted by Jo-Anne Gibson
With contributions by Kate Johnson-Mcgregor, Rhea Woolgar and Glenn Turner