“Librarians don’t know everything, but they surely know the path to find out everything.”

On 6th January 2019, the NBT and DELNET together arranged a panel discussion at the World Book Fair in New Delhi, on the topic-‘ Igniting young children’s minds through libraries : role of LIS professionals.’

The discussion engaged eminent figures in the field of education-Dr. R.K. Sharma- Librarian at the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan (UNIC), Dr. Geeta Malhotra – Country Director, Read India, Dr. (Smt.) Indu Khetarpal – Principal, Salwan Public School, Ms. Vandana Gambhir – HOD – Library, Pathways World School, Gurgaon. The participants comprised librarians of numerous Delhi schools. TFS was represented by librarian, Ms. Indranee Mukherjee.

The session was moderated by Dr. H. K. Kaul, director, DELNET. The first issue to be highlighted was ‘ Is a library the gateway to knowledge?’ Dr. Geeta Malhotra was of the opinion that this entirely depends on those accessing the library, since all information cannot essentially increase one’s knowledge. Dr. Sharma, on the other hand, rightly said that people in today’s world are “digitally native” which implied that digital libraries can bring about life-long learning amongst children. 90% teaching can be successfully achieved outside classrooms, in the library.
Dr. Khetarpal added, knowledge without books is dangerous. Libraries bring about guided learning. Besides, she stressed on the development of class libraries for the benefit of students. The social and emotional development of the child is directly linked to the reading of books emphasised Ms. Gambhir.

The second issue to be discussed was ‘ Is quality- information reaching students?’ Here again the concept of guided learning becomes important. Dr. Malhotra stressed on the importance of knowledge dissemination. All content is not appropriate for students. Hence special committees should be set up to analyse the contents of a book. A good reading habit can only be inculcated if the personal interest of the child is linked with the books.

According to Dr. Khetarpal, subject teachers should guide the students to achieve quality learning. A library class in the company of the subject teacher greatly helps students imbibe the best from the respective subject books.

Thirdly, school libraries should have books that supplement the teaching in class. Here Dr. Malhotra emphasised upon the role of the teacher. The physical intervention of the teacher  is important. She or he should have a sound knowledge of the subject books to be able to guide the students. Curricular education together with added information available in the library leads to a complete education. Dr. Khetarpal opined that every librarian should be computer literate. We need to update ourselves with digital education to be self-sufficient in the changing times. 

Dr. Khetarpal emphasised on motivational learning. On a humorous note she said that she often affectionately calls out to her librarians as ‘Alexa’. This magically motivates them to stock up on new knowledge each day to be ready to answer the questions of their students!