The University of Chicago Lab Schools library program is designed to nurture children's love of literature and their enthusiasm for investigating the existing body of knowledge on any given subject of interest. The program builds skills incrementally over the years, giving students the ability to independently use and enjoy library resources. Knowledge and skills gained through the program help to form a strong foundation for lifelong learning. An important component of the program is information literacy: finding, organizing, evaluating and synthesizing information in all of its formats. At each step of their encounter with library use, students are given instruction and support, and then they move to more independent and sophisticated uses of library resources. The library program coordinates with curriculum in each school, particularly in areas of language arts, social studies, science, and literature. Skills and dispositions learned through library use allow students to explore the wide range of human experience through a variety of media.
Kindergarten and Lower School Library Experience
Students in the Lower School are encouraged to read both for pleasure and for information. As they progress through Lower School, students gain an awareness and appreciation for a wide variety of literature. They also begin to learn the skills necessary to use the library independently. The Lower School library program provides support to classroom and special area teachers and attempts to integrate library goals and objectives with their curricula when possible.
A unique part of Blaine Library's program is storytelling. Students in kindergarten, first, and second grades hear a story every week, usually traditional tales from around the world, learned by the librarians and told without any books or props to distract attention from the story itself. In addition to being a great deal of fun, storytelling enhances language acquisition and attention span, as well as reading, writing, memory, and visualization skills.
Literature appreciation and library skills
Every year, authors and/or illustrators visit first through fourth grade students to talk to them about the creative process. During weekly library class times, second through fourth graders are introduced to a cross-section of appropriate literature, including fiction, nonfiction, and folklore. Third and fourth graders begin to evaluate literature critically by participating in the Sutherland Award program. As students progress through the grades, they begin to use the library more independently by learning the call number system and learning to use the online library catalog. In fourth grade, students are introduced to basic research skills and materials.
Middle School Library
Throughout Middle School, students are encouraged to read for pleasure through reading programs, booktalks, author visits, readers' advisory, and specialized reading lists. In addition, the Zena Sutherland Award for Children's Literature program and the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award foster critical analysis and understanding of literature. Students develop an appreciation of writing and illustration styles, identify genres, and develop an understanding of their own reading preferences.
Fifth Grade Program
In 5th grade students become oriented to and effective users of the Middle School Library. Students learn to access the on-line patron catalog and locate books on shelves, utilize both print and on-line reference materials, access Internet resources, and become familiar with search techniques and applications. Students also develop facility with gathering information from online and print encyclopedias.
Sixth-Eighth Grade Program
Students in sixth-eighth grades become skilled and effective library users as they develop lifelong habits of reading and inquiry based upon the foundation built in the lower school and fifth grade. Students learn to locate, navigate, and evaluate sources as they engage in research projects coordinated by classroom subject area teachers. In additional to research skills learned in lower school and fifth grade, students learn to use indexes and data bases such as EBSCO, critically evaluate print and internet resources, distinguish between primary and secondary sources, evaluate and develop strategies for effective internet searches, and identify and record bibliographic information.
High School Library
Rowley Library is central to the High School Program. A rich supply of both print and electronic resources are available that support the curriculum and personal growth. Librarians collaborate with faculty to identify appropriate research instruction and resources for curriculum assignments. Librarians are also available for individual reference consultation with students, staff, and faculty. Students have an opportunity to participate in the Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award, a state wide recreational reading program in which students read and vote upon selected works of fiction and non-fiction. By graduation, students will be able to locate print and electronic resources that appropriately support a defined inquiry, evaluate print and electronic resources for reliability and scholarly value, and create accurate citation references. In addition, students will understand how to use the University of Chicago Library resources to support their research.