Reading is the key to opening the world to students. A Library Media Center becomes the heart of the school, any school.
Montessori libraries have more in common with other school libraries than they have differences, so I think pointing out the minor differences would be helpful to understanding.
Most classrooms are a single grade level, whereas, Montessori classrooms consist of at least three grade levels. So in our particular school, Stanford Elementary, we have primary classes with three, four, and five-year-olds in those rooms. This means my story time with those groups is very short, usually twenty minutes. Three-year-olds just do not have long attention spans. In lower elementary the classes are each made up with nearly equal numbers of first, second, and third grade students. The difference here is that any lessons in the library must be highly differentiated.
Independent learning is a focus in Montessori education. Children are allowed to come to the library by themselves every day. They come to get new books whenever they finish and test over books they have checked out. Students come for independent research without their teachers from the time they are in first grade. Our collection of non-fiction books is vast and ever changing. Students gather information from our print collection and also from online resources. Four students from each class may be in the library at any one time. With twenty-one classrooms, there is sometimes quite a large group working in Stanford’s Library Media Center. At these independent-research times, the heart of the school pounds loudly.
The population of Stanford is diverse, and our library collection reflects the beauty of this diversity. I strive to add books each year that provide students with characters, themes and information to which they can relate. This is something I feel most libraries have in common in the schools of our present day society.