EU-programmes made it possible to meet colleagues and exchange ideas. Wherever I met colleagues – in Portugal, in Austria and Italy, in Sweden, Denmark, Lebanon or on international conferences – I was cordially received.
I feel honoured, that school libraries in the German state of Hessen, my friends of the board and me, are valued and can contribute our five cents, when we are asked for advice.
The situation in Germany
The development seems to be slowly or not at all. We take a backseat in international meetings.
School libraries are mostly statutory. Each of the 16 German states has a School Law. This law obliges the regional or municipal authorities, not the state, to maintain school libraries. But unlike to gymnasia, science labs and computer rooms, these authorities understand school libraries as an optional task.
Nevertheless almost half of the 35000 schools have a school library, not always according to demanding library-related standards. The workforce consists of few chartered public librarians, mostly of volunteering parents, teachers and students. Often it is a work-seeker who does community service. Some parental associations award a grant.
The development in the states is quite different: Hamburg will open new school libraries, Brandenburg and North-Rhine-Westfalia agree with the library associations not to invest in school libraries but in public libraries. In Hesse some hundred teachers run school libraries and some even get an extra pay. But they don´t need further education. Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate are in a more advanced state because the state or the county pay the staff at least in the grammar schools.
In some major cities the public library has combined libraries in schools and/or a support center for school libraries. Yet in other towns these combined libraries have been or will be closed in order to cut the municipal expenses.
What is LAG?
The LAG is an independent association of about 300 teachers, parent volunteers, librarians and – mainly – schools. It is a counsellor to teachers, school administrators and the Hessian Ministry of Education.
Our ideas and project proposals found its way into Hessian schools, some of them are unique in the entire Federal Republic:
- Biannual “Schulbibliothekstage”, further education conferences, each with several hundred participants. The 20th took place in 2011. (2011 School Library Day in Hessen)
- Award “School Library of the Year”
- Reading promotion project “Library in a Box”
- Cataloguing software LITTERA for all schools
- Reading recommendations for students (before Christmas and summer vacation)
A summary can be found in “The LAG – A Story of Success?”
Please don´t hesitate to comment the postings in English or mail me at gs (at) schulbibliotheken.de
Here are some texts in English language:
- Outline Germany To get a general idea of the situation
- Are there any school libraries in Germany? The newest trend: public libraries as partners in education. No more school libraries?
- Training Working Techniques in the School Library Report of a workshop held at Bozen, Südtirol, Italy, 2002 ; published in: IFLA-Newsletter for School Libraries and Resource Centers, 43/06
- The School Library. Center of Pedagogical Innovation The concept of LAG Schulbibliotheken as a mindmap. Presentation at a workshop, Goethe-Institut/UNESCO, Beirut, 2007