Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Preserving School Libraries, Protecting Librarians

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Preserving School Libraries, Protecting Librarians

Every April school libraries across the country celebrate school library month with special celebrations. This April will mark the 35th year of this annual tradition, but many children across the nation will not take part in the celebration because they attend schools without library programs. Many cash strapped school districts have slashed library budgets in a misguided attempt to save or redirect financial resources. Some of these schools still have existing libraries and allow students to check out resources with the assistance of volunteers or other staff members not trained as librarians.

The elimination of school librarians might not seem that dire for cash strapped school districts but the impact this decision can have on the students is significant. School librarians assist students and staff in locating and evaluating sources, and foster a love of reading and learning in the students. School librarians also support student learning by working with teachers to plan and teach curriculum driven lessons.

In this era of digital overload and fake news the services of school librarians are needed more than ever. Colleges are now experiencing the impact of school districts eliminating librarians. In a 2017 survey conducted by School Library Journal, 500 university librarians were asked to share their experiences supporting incoming freshmen students with college research. Their overwhelming response indicated concern with the fact that incoming college freshmen students are not prepared for college level research. Primary concerns revolved around issues with students not being able to evaluate sources effectively, and cite them correctly. These basic skills are taught by librarians and content area teachers do not have the bandwidth to address them.

This April join your school in celebrating School Library month and the school librarians. If your school is contemplating defunding the library, please speak-up and protect this resource.

Eileen Findley