Top Nav Breadcrumb

Creating a library hub in an IB school

John Kolosowski is a PYP/MYP Teacher Librarian working at Tokyo International School, Japan

John Kolosowski is a PYP/MYP Teacher Librarian working at Tokyo International School, Japan

A PYP/MYP teacher-librarian writes about the role of the library at his school. 

The library should be one of the most exciting places in the school: the hub of learning, reading, research, discussion and collaboration. I try and create this at Tokyo International School (TIS). As a teacher-librarian working in the PYP and MYP, I begin the year discussing with the students how the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes influence life in the library. Being a risk-taker means experimenting with a variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction and taking books that challenge you as a reader, and not being afraid to use new technologies. Being principled means committing to trying your best to finish a book. A balanced reader takes a variety of new reading materials. Communicators recommend books to others and talk about stories with others. We discuss with students how we can put these into action.

image11As a teacher-librarian I collaborate with classroom teachers to ensure that the collection in the library supports the units of inquiry. Research skills are introduced to the students early and slowly built upon as the students progress to higher grades. At TIS students are introduced to our school-wide research model: The Big3 (for grades K-3) and The Big6 (grades 4-8). This ensures that all students are using the same skills to successfully find, evaluate and use information. I meet with the PYP and MYP curriculum coordinators, and classroom teachers, to decide which units include a research component and focus on these throughout the year.

The teacher-librarians in Japan have a very strong network. We meet to discuss initiatives such as the Sakura Reading Program as well as receive professional development.

Last year, we initiated an ‘adopt-a-shelf’ program in which parents are invited to come in any time throughout the day to organize their shelf. This not only ensures that our books are always in order, but promotes a positive attitude towards the love of literature amongst the whole school community. Students love seeing their mum or dad’s involvement in the library.

Authors visit the school to talk to our students about topics related to our units of inquiry. Recently Holly Thompson, a locally based author, talked to our grade 4 students about healthy eating and Wakame, a type of Japanese seaweed. This created an important cultural link to the unit of inquiry on the transdisciplinary theme Who we are. Adam Gidwitz visited us from New York to provide links to our reading and writing workshops with the emphasis on the writing process. The students now realize that when teachers ask them to revise their work a few times, it is not so bad after all!

We have several library assemblies throughout the year in which parents, teachers and members of our community promote reading. The after-school dance club performs book-related dances such as We love to read.

As a teacher-librarian, I am always trying to come up with new initiatives to get the students to read, think creatively, share their learning and be responsible learners. Reading has truly become a part of our culture here at the school and we keep our mission alive at TIS: “The library – everyone’s second classroom”.

What is the role of the teacher-librarian at your school? How is your library the same or different from the one described here?










This is John’s second year at Tokyo International School and he has implemented a number of new initiatives to promote reading, research and collaboration amongst the school community. He has experience as a classroom teacher and has lived in Japan since 2000. John enjoys sharing his ideas on twitter @johnkolosowski.

, , , ,

20 Responses to Creating a library hub in an IB school

  1. Erin 20 June 2014 at 7:44 am #

    What a wonderful programme, how lucky the students at TIS are to hanve such a motivated teacher/librarian! A very important topic and love the idea of adopting a shelf. If onlly our community libraries were so integral to people’s lives as they are in school.

  2. Uta 20 June 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Hello John,
    Thank you for sharing your experience at your school.
    World You mind elaborating as to what your big3 and the big4 Programs involve?
    I am intrigued you have a program in place which monitors that all students are on the same page in regard to Research skills.

  3. Kelly Born 21 June 2014 at 3:52 am #

    I am so excited to read this. I m beginning my first year as a librarian in an PYP program. We’ve been authorized for bout 6 years now and I look forward to maki great changes in our school. I dream, of the library being the central hub to all learning in the school! Your post motivates me to continue my dreamland recognie I will get there!!

  4. PYP development team 24 June 2014 at 10:13 am #

    That’s great, Kelly! How exciting! Do share with us your story/journey!
    Kirsten Loza, SharingPYP team

  5. PYP development team 24 June 2014 at 10:35 am #

    This is the link to How to contribute to this blog:

  6. ZURIDAH 8 July 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Dear John,

    The children lucky to have you as their school librarian. Actually , it’s amazing sharing session and really motivate me as a new librarian in MYP IB school. I’ve an experience about the idea of adopting shelf in my former school and really works! However , we used voluntary student.

  7. Celia 20 August 2014 at 1:22 am #

    Hi John, Hope you’re enjoying TIS! Love the “adopt-a-shelf” idea! Hopefully, I’ll make it to one of the meetings up in Tokyo this year.

  8. Janelle Odate 4 December 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Great article John. You are doing such fantastic things in your library. I love hearing about all your ideas. Keep posting more.

  9. Zakir 16 December 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Hi Uta,

    Have a look these video clips to explore big 3 and big 6

    good luck 🙂

  10. Robert Bartless 1 February 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    I can’t get over how many great ideas you have been able to include here. I don’t know which one to comment on first. I like the idea of having a meeting with my PYP coordinator and our teachers to decide which units include research components BEFORE the school year begins. I began an Adopt-A-Shelf program at my school this year with students who come in to keep the shelves organized, and I am intrigued by the use of parents in that program. I am already wondering what that might look like in my school. I also am interested in the Library Assemblies you mention. So many wonderful things going on at your school!

  11. Diana Ruiz 18 April 2015 at 1:48 am #




  12. Mahendra KANCHAN 19 April 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    Good idea! we need more information literacy programme need to conduct

  13. Kelly Born 28 July 2016 at 6:22 am #

    How funny because here I am 2 years later and those big changes haven’t happened! This is the year through! I’m looking for PYP teacher-librarians to collaborate with as I move our school from a full fixed schedule to a flex schedule where I am able to better work with classes in conjunction with their planners to teach research skill and media literacy skills, while still fostering the love of reading. I will check back to continue to share my journey!

  14. Sarah Peters 11 October 2016 at 10:17 am #

    I see that this post is 2 years old, but that others are still commenting. So, I thought I’d introduce myself because I’d like to start networking with international school librarians. I’m new to international teaching (after 13 years in US public schools as a librarian) and new to IB/PYP. If anyone out there would like to connect, please contact me at [email protected]. I’m the new PYP Librarian at the Berlin Brandenburg International School. Since this is a new position, I’m starting from scratch. Thanks for the article, John, and look forward to hearing from colleagues far and wide.


  15. Mike Bagosy 21 June 2017 at 6:47 am #

    I knew you from when you were the dynamic librarian at your previous school. I now have input into revitalize the library and self-access learning center where I am currently teaching.
    Good to see where you went. (Ever-so-part-time substitute teacher at Nishimachi) TIS is lucky to have you.
    Sincerely, Mike Bagosy

  16. Veena 21 August 2018 at 12:02 pm #

    HI, I just want to know the way you arranged the books in your library.. Have you followed DDC system or as per the Unit of inquiry or TD Theme?

    Which method you are following to arrange picture books? specially, the books
    teachers can use for provocation.

    My idea is to inculcate the reading habit.

    Your immediate suggestion would be helpful.

    Thanks and Regards,

  17. Ketki Bedekar 11 January 2019 at 5:56 am #

    Hello John

    it is indeed an interesting article. I would like to connect with you on the various programs that you implemented.

  18. Sophia 12 August 2020 at 8:10 am #

    Hi Kelly! How is it going now in your school? I have just been moved into the Teacher/Librarian position and our school has been authorised for a few years and is just now moving into these changes. Do let me know how it’s going! I’m super interested!

  19. Kristin Saxon 16 July 2021 at 2:34 am #

    I think collaboration is always a struggle. I love being in the library, but it can make you feel like an outsider in the world of teachers. I want to be a support and genuine help to teachers, but there can be resistance like you are suggesting more work instead of help.

  20. Shyamie Jayawardena 23 June 2022 at 1:56 pm #

    Hello John,

    You are an amazing teacher-librarian!. Students are very lucky to have you as their librarian.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.