Westbourne’s Twenty-First Century Libraries
24 July 2023

Bronwyn Macdonald | Director of Libraries

BA, Grad Dip Ed, Grad Dip Child Lit
Highly experienced as a leading authority on the role and value of school libraries, Bronwyn Macdonald shares her insights into the purpose of
Westbourne’s libraries and their place as multi-purpose information hubs, quiet sanctuaries, and resource centres.

Westbourne’s Twenty-First Century Libraries

The libraries at Westbourne are interesting places. Full of students at break times, noisy, moving, laughing, checkmating, debating and convincing. Then quiet and peaceful, contented customers being captivated and following a hero, wishing, and hoping, exam revising, searching, questioning. Who knows the answer to this? How do I work it out? Quietly, in the background, a group of staff who see and support an amazing combination of readers and resources, learners, and knowledge sharing – and know exactly what books students and staff read and are drawn to, can discuss plot twists, and new authors and stories for exploration, understand curriculum, world events and trends, changes and growth.

The wellbeing of our students and staff is paramount and all five Westbourne libraries provide a safe space to be. There are books to read and chess games to be played. There are fantastic activities such as knitting and crocheting as well as colouring in books and the ever-popular jigsaws to complete. Most importantly, the libraries are a place to be quiet and have a time out from the busyness of school life.

The concept of the traditional librarian has changed over recent years. Whilst still providing services such as literature support, research tools, general student supervision and the centralised locations of a wide variety of resources, these things now only touch the surface of what the libraries and library staff are actively providing across the breadth of the school.

Westbourne librarians take on the roles of curator, media expert, scholar, and ethicist, assisting teachers and students with research topics and providing guidance and support for projects from inception to realisation. Westbourne’s libraries are not just places, rooms, buildings, or collections.

They are vibrant communities of support and assistance inviting engagement and active participation. The days of relying on classroom textbooks alone are rapidly passing us by and as teachers we are looking at providing a multitude of different resources and information to all classes.

Teacher Librarians can assist with this by explicit teaching, both face-to-face and via digital tools by providing resource material that is focussed and targeted to suit specific needs. Tools such as Research or Study Guides, can provide links to resources available (both book and digital), links to appropriate web resources, links to videos, locations around the world and resources to challenge thinking. These seemingly simple tools extend that guidance in research and the development of understanding outside specific timetable times and physical classrooms and are accessible to any student at any time.

The idea of 24/7 accessibility now also extends to eBooks and eAudio books with students always having access to both even when they are not at school. The availability of user-friendly apps will allow even our youngest students to access digital reading materials via their iPads and other devices.

Take a look at the My Library page on Schoolbox. There are links to the library catalogue and digital resources as well as tools to assist with research and reading for fun suggestions. This is an ever-changing space as our aim is to make locating information and research as straight forward as possible. The libraries and library staff are here to support the whole Westbourne community. As a twenty-first century resource we warmly welcome our school community and encourage everyone to use all the services that we offer and challenge us to do more.