Why School Librarians Matter To Students And CommunitiesApril 13, 2022
April is School Library Month, and what better way to commemorate the occasion than by emphasizing the importance of school librarians, as our colleagues at the Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE) did brilliantly in the letter below. This letter was also published in the Chicago Tribune on April 12, 2022.
Dear Letter to the Editor:
Cutting certified school librarians is shortsighted and detrimental to students, yet it happens with shocking regularity across our country. ln several Illinois school districts, school administrators and school boards recently relegated their school librarians to budgetary fodder. School librarians know the importance and impact of independent reading, information, and media literacy. We know kids who read will score higher on standardized tests, and more importantly, will find joy, adventure, empowerment, and knowledge through reading. School librarians often change the educational trajectory of students who come to the library not knowing what to read or not wanting to read. Maybe that was once your student - the same student who now comes into the library asking with genuine excitement, “Do you have another book just like this one?!”
The school library isn't what it used to be, nor is the school librarian. The cliche'-ridden notions are no more. The old stereotype of a school library as a quiet place with a shushing, scolding librarian is the opposite of true in today’s school. It is still a place to read, but it is also that "third" space where students can tinker and explore. Many school libraries have makerspaces where 3D printers and robotics are at the ready. Here, students use their imaginations to create and iterate. For some students the school library is a respite. And in a world bombarded with information, learning how to discern credible information is imperative within a 21st Century educational paradigm. The school library and school librarian are at the very heart of this practice.
If you are a student or parent of a student and you value the gift of reading, research, and literacy, please contact your school district’s Board of Education to let these elected members know that closing school libraries and cutting certified school librarians is not what is best for students.
Happy School Library Month!
Janine M. Asmus