School libraries: The power of student voice

School students know what they want from their school library. Just ask 11 year old Jamaican student, Daniella who wrote a letter outlining why her school library needed to be the winner of a $100,000 donation from a local bank. This story is a great example of the use of ‘student voice’ as advocates of change with regard to the resourcing of school libraries to support student learning.

This is supported by recent research such as the Ohio Study (by Todd & Kuhlthau (2004) and the Australian replication of this study by Hay (2006). Based on over 6, 700 student responses to the Australian School Libraries Supporting Student Learning survey from 46 primary and secondary schools, my article in Scan (Vol 25, No 2 – May 2006) presents the findings of this research project, and concludes that students want their school libraries to be “flexible and dynamic learning laboratories”. 

This Jamaican newspaper item demonstrates that Jamaican kids (just like Aussie kids) also have a vision of how their school library can contribute to their learning. School Libraries Work (3rd ed, 2008) states, “A school library program that is adequately staffed, resourced, and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socioeconomic or educational levels of the community.” (p.10). We look forward to hearing more stories about students who become advocates of change for their school library and student communities.

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