“Simply put, students suffer when they don’t have adequate resources—and, in particular, we’ve found that student achievement suffers when schools lack libraries that are staffed by full-time librarians. ‘Nearly every public school in Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties has a library with certified staff, which has been proven to increase student reading and comprehension.’”
Chancellor Kaya Henderson said: “We have invested in full-time librarians for the last three or four years and we haven’t seen the kind of payoff we’d like”While noting that she is not disparaging librarians she said “We have pulled away from programs where we haven’t received a return on our investment.” Apparently a payoff on investment would involve improved test scores.
Still, she says parental involvement can’t replace the work of a librarian. “A librarian can turn a hesitant reader into an avid reader,” she says.
Plus, Carl Harvey, president of the American Association of School Librarians, says running a library is about much more than books these days.
“School libraries teach the process of how you deal with information, how you find it, how you evaluate it and what you do with information,” he says. “As we all know, with the Internet, information is exploding everywhere and kids are really going to need skills and processes to deal with that information.”
School librarians transform lives through education and make it possible for students to thrive in a 21st century learning environment.
You will find them at places like Pine Grove Middle School, in the East Syracuse Minoa School District in New York, which received one of the “National School Library Program of the Year” awards from the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association (ALA).
Librarian Sue Kowalski created areas for students to focus on graphic novels and drawing. Through her “iStaff” program, middle school students were able to act as tutors, reading advisors and event tech support, while assuming the role of ambassadors to visiting legislators.
School librarians play an integral role in their schools, collaborating with teachers on lesson plans, working with administrators to obtain grants and aiding students in using new media.
But like Mrs. Spicer, their vital work is largely unrecognized. What is worse, it is being compromised, as local, state and federal funding for school libraries continues to shrink.