Alison DeNisco of District Administration writes of how schools have been cutting back on librarians.
From 2006 to 2011, the number of school librarians dropped more than the number of other teachers, according to the NCES. The community members and volunteers many schools hire to take over library duties often do not have the same training and knowledge of certified librarians.
Especially in an age where schools need technical leadership for aiding students, state-certified librarians are more important than ever. I can personally attribute my computer literacy to the library and media center instructors at my elementary school.
I was one of the more fortunate kids. I went to an elementary school that had the colored Mac desktops. I remember very clearly. In 2nd grade I was playing games like Number Munchers just getting the hang of using a keyboard. In 3rd grade, I started practicing speed-typing*. In 4th and 5th grade, I really looked forward to the one hour we’d spend with the media center teacher because I hated writing cursive and loved playing with the different fonts in Microsoft Word. I always thought highly of these people, enough to become a library and media center volunteer in 5th grade.
*I want to take a moment to brag. I’ve always been very fast at typing. In fact, I was typing so fast at one point that people were telling me to stop typing so fast. That’s when you know you’ve made it.
Then in 6th grade, something amazing happened. Our middle school librarian said she’d give a piece of candy to anyone that could teach her something. That’s how good she was at her job.
I was determined to get that piece of candy.
After school, I was watching a TV show on MHz about building a website from scratch. I noticed they used the ‘find’ feature in the Internet Explorer browser. In September of 2001, this was a revelation to me.
I went back to the library the next day, showed it to my librarian, and she was in shock that I knew something she didn’t.
I thoroughly enjoyed that Snickers bar.
Here’s the thing: librarians have a very important job. Without my librarian, I would’ve had a hard time getting reputable sources for research papers in college. I wouldn’t have known how to properly do online research in the first place.
A great librarian can help a whole student body become technically proficient. A great librarian can help you find what you’re looking for. A great librarian can get you to where you need to be.
We take them for granted and we really shouldn’t. Because a great librarian makes everyone else’s life easier.