Bridging the Gap: Collaborative Stewardship of School Libraries and Classroom Collections by Mallory Weber

In the landscape of elementary education, school libraries and classroom collections have tremendous power to shape student reading preferences and development. Classroom teachers and school librarians can partner to create rich reading opportunities for students. Let’s consider some of the dynamics of school libraries and classroom collections.

  1. The Perils of Abundance:

A generous budget for a classroom collection is a beautiful thing.  It can also occasionally be a double-edged sword. When teachers have an extensive collection within their classrooms, they may be less inclined to take advantage of the school library.  This can be especially damaging in schools with librarians on a flexible schedule.  Under-utilizing the school library limits the diversity of books available to students, as even the most fabulously well-stocked and current classroom library can’t have the breadth of a school library.  If the classroom collection books are only to be read at school, which is a common rule, students will also miss out on the valuable experience of selecting and bringing home books to share with their families.

  1. The Content Conundrum:

Teachers, with their keen understanding of their students’ reading levels, often curate classroom collections with high quality books at an appropriate Lexile© level for their class. A common challenge arises when the content or themes of these books do not align with the developmental stage of the students. Librarians, who read tons of children’s books and professional reviews regularly, should be well-versed in diverse genres and age-appropriate content.  Librarians and teachers can work together to strike a balance between reading levels and content relevance in the development of classroom collections.

  1. Navigating Trends and Best Practices:

    Librarian job descriptions generally include staying current with trends and best practices in collection management. Collaboratively, librarians and teachers can identify gaps in classroom collections, weed out outdated or irrelevant material, and curate targeted book lists that align with educational and DEIB-related goals.  At my school, we advertise these services to teachers at end-of-year and beginning-of-year faculty meetings, and they are used heavily!
  1. Partnerships for Diverse Literacy:

    Despite occasional challenges, the interplay of school libraries and classroom collections can create a rich tapestry of reading opportunities for students. By viewing these two resources not as competitors but as complementary elements in a broader literacy strategy, teachers and librarians can collaborate to offer diverse books for students to explore in various contexts—at school, at home, independently, or with a grown-up.

When we foster a symbiotic relationship between school libraries and classroom collections, we can offer students varied and enriching reading experiences. What is the relationship between your library and your colleagues’ classroom collections? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Written by Mallory Weber, Lower School Librarian at Packer Collegiate Institute

HVLA Fall Meeting Announcement

HVLA Fall Meeting: Roundtable Idea Sharing

Date and Time: Tuesday, October 24, 2023, 3:45-6:00 pm

Location: Saint Ann’s School, 129 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

Happy Hour: Custom House, 139 Montague Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Enjoy one free drink and savor delicious snacks over delightful conversation

Kindly RSVP here.

I know you have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the HVLA Fall Meeting. It will be an exciting and lively exchange of ideas. Pick from a menu of choices for your two roundtable discussions. Topics range from our favorite read aloud stories to best practices related to databases to curriculum ideas on Banned Books lessons. Each roundtable discussion will have a facilitator who will guide the discussion but please come prepared to share about lessons and experiences that have gone well and those that may have gone not quite as well. We can all learn from each other. What I love about this group is how we are constantly seeking out ways to improve our practice.

Our membership meetings are valuable opportunities to meet with each other and share knowledge. We are a diverse, experienced, enthusiastic group with so much to offer. Whether you have been a member of HVLA for decades or you are a brand new member, I hope you will join us in Brooklyn to participate in thought-provoking conversation and explore the possibilities of collaboration.

See you there!