April brings School Library Month, National School Librarian Day, Library Workers Day, and National Library Week. What is the point? What have libraries and librarians ever done for us?
Consider the legacy of libraries. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was the Great Library at Alexandria. Libraries all over the world have preserved works of other cultures when those cultures would have seen those works destroyed. Libraries are national treasures, or at least treasure troves; think of the Library of Congress or the Bodleian (Oxford). Many books have included library settings, and librarians are something akin to rock stars for many authors.
Why? What’s so great about libraries and librarians?
Librarians are teachers.
If your campus has a certified librarian, he or she has also been a classroom teacher. They know a thing or two about curriculum and instruction. In fact, they still love teaching! Their library classroom looks a little different and has more students, but librarians are still teachers. And it doesn’t stop with the students. Many librarians lead professional development on their campuses and in their districts while others offer educational opportunities for parents.
Librarians love books.
Of course librarians love books. Everyone knows that. But it’s more than a love of books. Librarians want others to be readers and will go out of their way to turn a reluctant reader into a voracious one. Librarians spend hours outside of school reading and listening to a wide variety of books that they can then recommend to their teachers and students. They create displays to highlight books and promote them over social media. They find and purchase books and resources that support curriculum. They know that books are “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” as stated by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop in 1990, underscoring the need for diversity in library collections. Books, like libraries, are for everyone.
Librarians are Future Ready.
Librarians who are Future Ready go beyond literacy. They collaborate with teachers, building instructional partnerships. They help students become creators and problem solvers, and they protect their students by protecting privacy and teaching students digital skills. Future Ready Librarians select, organize, and share digital resources, looking for ways to provide access to all students, and they invest strategically in digital resources. But Future Ready Librarians aren’t concerned only with the digital landscape; these librarians build community support and offer spaces for their school communities to learn, create, and grow.
Librarians embrace change.
Gone, we hope, are the stereotypical shushing librarians. School librarians now are working in a changing landscape. Books will continue to exist in print, but ebook and audio book collections are expanding. Graphic novels are increasing in popularity and acceptance. Technology is becoming the standard, not the exception. Makerspaces and coding can be found in more and more libraries. And whether it’s a place to read, relax, charge a device, study, or visit, the library is a place for anyone and everyone.
Most importantly, librarians love students.
Whether teaching a class, helping a student select a book, or taking time to learn about the newest resources and tools, librarians are committed to the success of every student every day.
If it’s been a while since you visited your school library, drop by to find out what you’ve been missing. Whether you’re a librarian, a teacher, an administrator, or anything in between, happy School Library Month! Libraries are for EVERYONE.
This is a guest blog post by Kristi Starr. Kristi is the library media specialist and co-campus technology leader at Coronado High School in Lubbock ISD and the Past President of LIB-SIG. This blog is part of a monthly series from LIB-SIG.