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Offering a lot more than books

LEARNING at school isn't simply confined to the classroom. Many of the international schools in Shanghai have first-class library facilities where students can gain access to further information, expand their interests and develop a passion for reading.

Yew Chung International School of Shanghai's libraries are physical extensions of the school's commitment to student learning and bilingualism. The libraries are structurally divided into primary and secondary wings to cater to different age groups and reading abilities, with the reading material further balanced between English and Chinese to reflect the school community.

Looking ahead, Puxi campus' secondary Co-principal Mark Sylte describes a library that aligns with the new technology children are growing up with.

"The 'look and feel' of libraries is certainly changing daily," Sylte says. "While I believe that print resources will, and should, continue to dominate the primary library landscape for some time, secondary libraries are increasingly centered around digital resources through online, peer-reviewed journals, films, graphics and e-texts."

Does that mean librarians will be irrelevant? Not according to Sylte, "But the critical need for trained librarians is what hasn't changed. Whether our students confront traditional texts or the new digital media, the evaluation of the content, its relevance, its veracity, its inherent bias and the like, is what distinguishes the trained mind from the untrained. Education is all about training minds - not in what to think, but how to think and reflect."


The Western International School of Shanghai has a brand-new library which opened officially last month. The Lilian Tang Library (named after the wife of Jian Jin Hong, the chairman of the WISS board of directors) is the culmination of more than one year's work by library staff and students at WISS.

As part of an inter-disciplinary project incorporating mathematics and technology, middle school students were asked to produce 3D drawings of their ideas and suggestions for the new library space at WISS using the program Google SketchUp. Head librarian Fiona Collins took these ideas into consideration when designing the new library so that the space reflects the student input and needs of the school community.

The new library is a comfortable environment filled with colorful beanbags and open shelving to display the extensive collection of fiction, non-fiction and reference material available to the WISS community.


When a student walks into Shanghai Singapore International School's library, they will feel right at home. The first people they will see are the librarians and library assistants ready to help. SSIS has individual and group workstations, a multimedia room to help its students undertake research-based projects and the school also has couches and a nice carpeted area for the younger students to relax and read their favorite books. Speaking of books, the SSIS library is packed with both English and Chinese books to help the students become truly bilingual.

The mission of the Shanghai Singapore International School Library Program is to help cultivate students that have a true passion for life and love for learning. The library program strives to do its part to help provide the students of SSIS with a holistic, well-balanced education within a caring and nurturing environment and to create resourceful, confident, caring, ethical and independent learners that are and will continue to be highly contributing members of society.


The six SCIS libraries across five campuses are continuing to look at an effective balance between technology and books as the school works at meeting the changing needs of the community.

The International Collection has become an important focus due to the diversity of the cultures and books in all languages for all its multilingual students and parents. The libraries are places where students are encouraged to become independent thinkers and lifelong learners. In all the libraries a love of reading is fostered, and the important role that literature has in an educated society is nurtured. Students are guided through the flood of digital information that confronts them everyday.

The libraries provide physical and intellectual access to the school resources and the tools required for learning.

Changes in practice for school librarians is shared as the increased emphasis on the librarian as a knowledgeable and experienced educator becomes apparent, with their use of web links, film/digital material and other multimedia resources.

Each individual SCIS campus library retains unique characteristics and at the same time ensures that all school resources are accessible to all the students across all campuses.


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