School librarians 'key' in age of misinformation, warns Ripon Grammar literacy lead

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School librarians are more important than ever in an age of misinformation, literacy leaders have warned, helping students navigate in a world of technology.

The Great School Libraries Campaign, launched by the School Libraries Association last year, calls for every child to have access to quality provision and is preparing to survey settings.

Now Sally Dring, a librarian and literacy and numeracy co-ordinator at Ripon Grammar School, has spoken of the challenges young people face when it comes to a time of “fake news”.

“I passionately believe there has never been a greater need for librarians who can teach the techniques necessary to find the right information and that these skills need to be embedded across the curriculum,” she said.

“In a school where the librarian or learning resource centre manager is valued and properly made use of, we can teach important information literacy skills, as well as demonstrating the value of reading.”

Recognition

Ripon Grammar, Yorkshire’s only state boarding school, has just received a commendation from Schools Minister Nick Gibb in recognition of its reaching the top two per cent of schools nationwide for progress, with a score of 0.98. The library here is well used, says Mrs Dring, often seeing up to 50 students at lunch.

Librarians’ role can see them supporting students’ learning, teaching skills, finding resources or even providing a safe space for children who need it.

“Amid increasing concern about the frightening rise of the incentivisation of misinformation, many schools forget that they already have an expert in-house who can help our students negotiate the huge volume of information out there,” said Mrs Dring. “There is no such thing as a ‘digital native’. These are skills that need to be learned like any others.

“A pupil would not be deposited in the vast chambers of the British Library and expected to find the right book – why then do we expect them to be able to navigate their way through the vast reams of information that they will find online.”