Wednesday, June 24, 2009

School librarians reassigned to classrooms

From the Seattle Times article Reassigned school librarians get attention beyond Bellevue, by Katherine Long:

[Sandy] Livingston, the Sammamish librarian, echoed UW professor [Michael] Eisenberg's analysis: that a library without a librarian is just a depository of books. Among other things, school librarians help guide students to credible sources of information on the Internet, and teach them how to decide if a source they've found online is legitimate or not.

When I worked for King County Library System, I visited the Bellevue, Washington elementary public schools for summer-reading program visits. The librarians were knowledgable, in touch with their students, and maintained excellent library collections. Many of the students were avid readers. Had I gone the school librarian route, the Bellevue School District would have been a dream location.

Once upon a time.


Lone Star Ma said...

Good gracious! I spent 2-8 grades in a Dallas parish school where the librarian was probably the only person who had any idea what they were dealing with - she subtly guided me to books every week and kept me out of trouble with appropriate reading material. And we were privileged kids, not even the ones who needed a good librarian most. Though I needed one:

Her: You can't read the Iliad - you are in second grade.

Me: Watch me.

Her: May I suggest Edith Hamilton's mythology collections? You'll like her better. Save the Iliad for 5th grade.


Me: I have read everything here.

Her: Look at these...


Librarians rock.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

That's just sad. Those are some principals who need to re-think their decisions.

Why is it that the librarian position is the one always considered for cutting? A good library -- with a knowledgeable librarian -- should be the hub of a school.

Beth Kephart said...

I agree entirely with Jules. Hub of a school, hub of a world. That's what my Ann McDermott is, at least, in a novel I just wrote. Not just wise, smart, knowing, but beautiful.

Because librarians are.

Inside A Book said...

They just did it in our district too! All librarians were given new titles - "media Center specialists" and over a three year period have been phased out of the "media center" and either off to retirement or off to classrooms. SO SAD! As a classroom teacher I wonder who will assist me with enriching my student's education in the library. Harder still it is for the librarian who hasn't been teaching in the classroom in 13 years! Quite frankly he is terrified! Yikes all around.

Anonymous said...

I think this is happening all over the place. Being a reader, I always loved my school librarians when I was a kid, even though I rarely talked books with them. I remember being grateful for all the books they kept around, though, and their help when I couldn't find something. For so many kids, school is the only place they encounter a library on a regular basis. I hate to think of anything deminishing that experience for them.

The Library Lady said...

Back when I was working for NYPL in the mid-1980s a lot of public librarians jumped to the school librarians. They were re-opening a lot of them after the budget cuts of the 70s, and your MLS meant you'd get really good pay there.

It never appealed to me, and still doesn't, because both my mom and my dearest friend are teachers and I've heard enough war stories to stay far far away from the school systems!

And the moment there's a budget crunch in the schools, the first ones to go are always the school librarians(!)

Jeani said...

It is sad that Bellevue Public Schools is eliminating school librarians at the middle and high schools. If you want to learn more about this issue, the website set up by parents referenced in the article is:

Saints and Spinners said...

I must admit that I never asked for reading suggestions from my school librarians. I pretty much just went up and down the aisles to pick out whatever appealed to me, and stopped when I couldn't carry anymore. However, the lesson block in high school on how to write a research paper was invaluable. The school librarians and the teachers worked together to guide us through the process of looking for resources, making notecards, writing rough drafts, etc.

Jeani, thanks for this link.

LibraryLady: The reason I didn't want to become a school librarian is that I didn't want to be bound by curriculum. I still don't.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Farida, I hear ya. I so totally hear ya. When I go back to work full-time in about two years, the idea is that I'll return to a school library. But being bound by curricula---school librarianship having been my only professional library experience thus far---makes me kinda dread it. It surprises me how I feel about it. Not to mention, at both schools at which I worked, I worked for principals who just. didn't. get. it. (Well, a superintendent in one case).

I'm soooo tempted to try public librarianship.

The Library Lady said...

I'm not exactly the "follow the rules" sort either, Famida. That's why I do better here in a small library system than I did in NYPL.

I didn't have much contact with school librarians except in my miserable middle school. The librarian there gave me "Watership Down". It's still one of my favorite books.