The Vital Role of School Librarians
As a child, I remember going once a week to the school library. Somehow, though I don’t remember when or how, I learned how to use a card catalogue to find books and the general organization scheme that work across most libraries but I’m sure it was my school librarians. For today’s students, many won’t have these memories as school librarians are often the first to go when there are budget issues. While might make the budget work in the short-term, there are long-term consequences that affect the quality of the education children receive.
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Why Are Schools Eliminating Libraries?
Budget cuts in school librarians traces back to the recession of 2008. The budget hit that caused resulted in a 19% loss of certified library professionals. Unsurprising, this hit showed up along racial lines, with the 20 districts who lost the most librarians have a population that is 78% students of color while those that boast they retained a professional librarian serve 75% white students. In those poorer districts, administrators often have to choose between a nurse, councilor or librarian. Considering that the number of councilors has grown by 11% and administrators leaped up by 28%, clearly librarians often lose that contest. Added to that, the false beliefs that investment in computers eliminates the need for a librarian, means that while 91% of public and private schools have libraires, only 61% have a certified librarian. The others are now staffed by poorly paid, untrained aids.
What Do Kids Lose When They Lose A Librarian?
1. Decreased parental involvement: Like their public counterparts, school librarians love a good celebration. By hosing events such as a Dr. Seuss day or Read A Book day, they draw parents in, letting the participate in their children’s education in a less structured way that can involve siblings, parent and even grandparents. Without them, schools lose a great ambassador.
2. Advanced Readers Lose Direction: Librarians often are the ones whose readers advisory talents gets books into their hands. Without them to guide them toward books of interest, these readers do not advance as far. And if they don’t advance, then low level readers also lack an ally to help the find appropriate books of interest, keeping their skills low.
3. Improve Scores on Standardized Tests: Love them or hate them, these tests are a fact of modern education. Nothing indicates that they are going away any time soon, so it pays to do well on them, and studies provethat schools with a licensed have better scores.
4. High schoolers are more likely to graduate and are more prepared for college: Studies prove that high-poverty schools with a librarian on staff makes it twice a likely that students will graduate. More, once they get to college, if they choose that path, they have better research skills and are more prepared for the rigors of higher education. Given that 80% of middle schoolers lack the ability to tell the difference between actual news and paid content, one can see how a librarian in the high school setting matters.
5. Defend students right to read: Librarians choose books for their collections that have to do several things: aid teachers in lessons, present unbiased information and provide books kids want to read for students at a range of reading levels. At times, parents challenge their choices for a variety of reason. A certified librarian leads the charge to defend every child’s first amendment right to read to school boards and parents.
Decision makers in modern education too often believe that school librarians are a luxury rather than a necessity. This hurts children and teachers and undermines their mission to education our nations citizens. Time has come to fix this and get them off the endangered species list.