The Problem with “School Librarians” in Mauritius

As its name suggests, a school librarian is a librarian who works in a school library. In Western countries, a school librarian is often being referred to as a teacher librarian or a School Media Information Specialist. Whatever the terms used, a school librarian is supposed to be responsible for performing the four main activities which follows:-

  • Teacher that is, assisting the children and/or students with the reading and selection of books as well as performing school work.
  • Instructional Partner that is, collaborating with teachers in order to promote information literacy and critical thinking amongst students.
  • Information Specialist that is, maintaining the collection and making available a variety of materials that is required in the school curriculum.
  • Program Administrator that is, maintaining the library budget and making the library a welcoming place for students.

In Western countries, a school librarian is often referred to as a teacher librarian since in addition to being a teacher the person would also possess a degree in library science. This is as totally opposed to the Mauritian context where school librarians or rather school library officers only possess a library science qualification.

In the Mauritian context, the school librarian’s importance has often been overlooked. The problem lies in the qualification and job description of these school librarians as set out by the authorities. Firstly, in most of our schools in Mauritius, there are only library clerks and/or library officers and no school librarians per se. Secondly, the qualifications of most of these school library clerks and/or officers are much lower than that of a typical school librarian. Thirdly, their job seems to involve only part of what a school librarian is supposed to do. Typically, a school librarian or rather school library officer in Mauritius would only be responsible in making available the necessary materials required for the school curriculum to the students. The promotion of information literacy, for example, which is one of the most important tasks that needs to be carried out by the school librarian is being totally ignored. To be information literate is in fact a primary prerequisite that is required in the educational development of an individual. A person is said to be information literate when that person is able to recognise a need for information, be able to locate that information and efficiently and effectively use the required information (ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, Final Report).

What is therefore required is a redefinition of the job description of the school librarian in Mauritius, the recruitment of appropriate school librarians with the appropriate qualifications and more collaboration between the teachers and the school librarians in the future. The appropriate measures taken will help to give a new image to the school librarian in Mauritius and to the library profession in general.

Helena Lam


3 Responses to “The Problem with “School Librarians” in Mauritius”

  1. Anju Says:

    Sir i am totally in accordance with what you have mentioned above. According to me this is what the others may be doing in their libraries, but as far as i am concerned though being a mere library clerk working in both a girl and boy school my way of working is totally different. How far i am doing it in the proper manner is up to u to tell me. I do change their books in accordance i do impose on my students to have a vocabulary copy book where they jot down the difficult words with its meaning and a summary on the book they have read. I make it a point to correct each and every one’s copy book. The week they are supposed to be doing reference work i see too it that they are reading and encourage them to share whatever they have found interesting with the class by reading aloud. I even question them about what ever is happening in the country and around the world. I was so surprised when i asked students of form five what is an immune system and they told me that they don’t know…………

    I do await your feedback

    • liam Says:

      The author of this article is no longer a member of our association. I cannot therefore discuss issues raised in this article. However, I advise you to become an active member of the association, then you will have the opportunity to discuss such issues.

      P. Hauroo

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