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Save the Library!



  • Arts & Humanities
  • Educational Technology


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

here is so much information available in a library that students often don't know where to begin. In this lesson, students decide which library resources are most helpful in the assignment scenarios the teacher describes. In addition, students write essays to make a case for saving a library from budget cuts or possible closure.


Students will
  • identify various resources of the library,
  • determine which resources are most appropriate for different types of class work,
  • write an essay to help save the library from projected budget cuts,
  • include in the essay examples of some of the benefits and resources libraries offer.


library, sources, research, study skills, essay, opinion

Materials Needed

  • a listing of the types of resources found in a library (student-created or available online)
  • computers with Internet access (optional)
  • a tour of school library (optional)

Lesson Plan

The library can be an overwhelming place for students who do not know where to begin! Libraries typically contain a wide variety of resources, and knowing what they are and where they can be found saves valuable research time.

As a warm-up to this activity, ask a few students to tell you about the last time they worked on an assignment in the library. Which resources did they use?

There are several ways to introduce students to -- or review -- library resources for this activity. You might have students tour the library's resources or you might have them read about Reference Sources in Libraries online (or print and use that information as a teaching guide or handout). Use the method of your choice to highlight the kinds of resources found in libraries, including almanacs, yearbooks, handbooks, biographical sources, dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, indexes, abstracts, statistics, government documents, geographic information, bibliographies, and more.

Next, have your students tell you where they would direct the students in the following scenarios. Keep in mind that libraries vary; accept any different but appropriate, thoughtful responses.

  1. A teacher asks Patti to find out more about the life of a person who is mentioned in her science textbook. She needs to find a resource that contains the complete story of the person from early childhood through old age.
    Suggestion: Patti should begin by searching for a biography or an autobiography of her subject.
  2. Mark has been reading a great book and would like to find a list of all of the books written by this author.
    Suggestion: Bibliographies list all the works by specific authors.
  3. While editing a paper he had written, Sam realized that he used several words repeatedly. He wants to find other words with similar meanings.
    Suggestion: A thesaurus includes synonyms and antonyms for words.
  4. Carla's history class wants up-to-date information about local elections.
    Suggestion: The newspaper is one library resource with current local information.
  5. As Martha prepares for college, she wonders how much aid the government offers to students for higher education.
    Suggestion: Most libraries have collections that include a wealth of statistics and government information. Martha should probably begin with the librarian!

Now ask your students to imagine themselves as library assistants in the Your City Library. Although the library is busy, funding is low. Some community leaders are discussing closing the library entirely. One community leader, C. Lue Less, has suggested that libraries are not truly necessary. Said Less, "No one needs the library. No one uses it, and I think it would be more helpful as a parking lot."

The head librarian, Gota Clue, is fearful that Less will get his wish, and she has asked each library staff member to prepare an essay about what the library offers, how people use it, and how it benefits the community. The library's very existence depends on these essays, which will be presented at the next community meeting.

"Make sure you mention some recent examples of how this library has served the public," requested Clue. "Why, just yesterday the chief of the fire department stopped by to read an article about a new type of fire hose in one of our professional magazines, and an actor from the playhouse came in to watch a scene on video. This town needs us. We have to save this library!"

Give your students time to write their essays. Instruct them to mention five specific examples of how the library has served the community in recent days; choose examples that employ five different kinds of library resources. Students might work in small groups to complete this activity.


A satisfactory essay should contain five kinds of library resources with ways they can be used.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Cara Bafile

National Standards


  • GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
Return to this week's Lesson Planning article, Lessons from the Library.