Using the library

A library is an organized collection of information resources, services and sources. A library’s fundamental purpose is to acquire, store, organize, disseminate or otherwise provide access to the vast bodies of knowledge already produced. Libraries are excellent sources of information. Remember, that a library is not a building or a stack of books. Currently, many libraries have digitized their resources so you can access many of them electronically. Also, you can access many things a part from books at your library. There may be documentaries you can watch or artifacts you can see. Information resources in a library include books in stacks, reference books, magazines, newspapers, and electronic and special resources

Arrangement of books in a library is dependent on how the information resources are organized and the cataloguing system used. Some libraries use the Dewey Decimal system whilst others may use the Library of Congress Cataloguing system. Most school libraries world-wide use the Dewey Decimal system.

What are the main functions of a school library?

  1. It provides information to school staff and students
  2. It supports the curriculum in areas such as literacy and numeracy
  3. It helps you to learn more about educational materials and how to select them
  4. It provides a central location for education materials
  5. It is a great place for you to showcase your work, for example, projects, school-based assessments
  6. It is an excellent location for you to meet with your classmates and teacher to discuss educational materials and how they can help you to improve your work
  7. It preserves the history and culture of your school
  8. It displays educational materials in an organized and attractive manner

How can I help my school with the library?

  1. Make sure that you care for all the educational materials in the library
  2. Do not steal the educational materials in the library, as future students will not benefit from them
  3. Return all books and other educational materials borrowed
  4. Ask your parents to donate educational materials to the library
  5. Keep your library clean and neat
  6. Do not eat or drink in the library
  7. Do not speak loudly in the library.

The Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal system was developed by Melvin Dewey, an American librarian. Students should try to know the principle on which it is based to help them to locate books in the library. There are ten subject classifications. Books are shelved or organized into these classifications which are further divided into sub-divisions. The division the book fits in is then placed on the spine of the book. If you understand the system, you can find books easier and quicker in the library.

000     Computer Science, Information & General Works (Encyclopeadias, Periodicals, etc.)

100     Philosophy and Psychology

200     Religion (including Mythology)

300     Social Sciences (Economics, Law, Government, etc.)

400     Language (Dictionaries, Grammars, etc.)

500     Science (including Mathematics Chemistry, Physics, etc.)

600     Technology (Agriculture, Engineering, Aviation, etc.)

700     Arts and Recreation (Sculpture, Painting, Music, Music, Photograph, Sports, etc.)

800     Literature (Poetry, Plays, Orations, etc.)

900     History, Geography, and Biography

Sample Subdivision of Religion-200

200     Religion

210     Natural theology

220     Bible

230     Christian theology

240     Christian moral & devotional theology

250     Christian orders & local church

260     Christian social theology

270     Christian church history

280     Christian denominations & sects

290     Other & comparative religion

(Please note that this can be subdivided even further).



It is very easy to find information in a library. Most libraries have card catalogues which are cards which describe the information resources in a library. There are three kinds of card catalogues:

  • A title card
  • An author card
  • A subject card

However, many libraries are now using electronic cards to help you to find information. Electronic cards still allow you to search for the information based on the subject you may be pursuing, or by the author of a book, or by the title of the book. The card (whether print or electronic) can help you to find the call number of the book, whether the library has the book, who is the author of the book, and how to locate other books on the subject. It can also give you important information about the book such as the date of publication, number of pages, etc. Please remember to speak to your librarian if you need help locating information in the library.

Using Your Classroom Library

Many classes, especially those at the Early Childhood and Primary levels, have a classroom library. A classroom library provides you with excellent educational materials and resources to help in your education. The classroom library is not designed to replace your school’s library, but to support it, and the teaching and learning process.

What can I donate to the classroom library?

Ask your teacher to tell you what you should donate to the classroom library. These are some of the education materials that may be needed for the classroom library:

  1. Textbooks
  2. Newspaper clippings on topical issues
  3. A telephone directory
  4. Posters
  5. DVDs and CDs (educational)
  6. Reference books e.g. dictionary, thesaurus, atlas
  7. A Bible and other religious books
  8. Informational books such as journals, diaries
  9. Stationery e.g. pencils, crayons, rubbers, sharpener, stapler, thumb tacks
  10. Puppets and costumes
  11. Blank and ruled sheets of paper
  12. Tape recorder
  13. Message pads
  14. Fiction books such as literature books, picture books, poetry books

Caring For Your Books

The Ministry of Education, through the National Textbook Loan Scheme, provides books for every child attending Primary (Grades 1-6) and Secondary (Grades 7-11) schools. Through the textbook scheme, the Ministry continues to help in raising the literacy levels of students and provide them with books in most subject areas. However, some of you continue to deface and lose your books. You should make every effort to care for your books, as it is very costly to repair and replace books, and your work is seriously affected when you do not have your textbooks. Our investigation of textbooks, used particularly on the Secondary Textbook Loan Scheme, has revealed the following:

  • Pages of textbooks are folded to mark key areas
  • Many textbooks suffer from “dog ears” early in their shelf life
  • Students continue to lose their textbooks
  • Textbooks are not wrapped and so are exposed to defacing
  • Students spill food and liquid on the textbooks
  • Students rip pages out of the textbook
  • Students mark textbooks with pencils, pens and highlighters

As partners in education, we are encouraging you to take better care of all of your books, whether they are textbooks or other educational materials. Books must be in good condition if they are to be passed on to other students entering the system.

Attached is a poster to inform you of how you can take better care of your books.