Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Shortly after starting first grade, Sophie came home and declared she wanted to be a school librarian. The librarian at her school in Logan, Utah had made a wonderfully positive influence on our daughter by simply sharing her own love of books. It also helped that the teachers and other staff members of the school were constantly talking about the books they read, were reading and looked forward to reading. Books were obviously valued. For the next 4 years Sophie would visit her school library every week, sometimes more than once, and she would come home with books that ranged in subjects as great as Sophie's interests.
When we moved to Jackson, Michigan in 2006 I was a bit disappointed to realize Sophie's new school did not have an appointed librarian. It was and is a wonderful school and there are parents and staff members who volunteer to keep the library going, so children may still check out books. It takes a village. However, I still think it conveys a message to our children, and not a positive message, when schools do not have a school librarian. For those who need data, there is research to support the claim that students in schools with librarians perform better on tests which measure reading ability.
The reality is that schools have cut school librarian positions due to cuts in funding. This is a very, very sad reality and it is demonstrative of that which we value in our society. Cuts in other areas: school nurses, social workers, paraprofessionals, art teachers, also negatively affect our students. Some schools opt to keep nurses, some have kept librarians; much of the decisions are based on what the community deems important.
SO! Here's the good news... The superintendent of Jackson Public Schools does see the value in school librarians and is looking for ways to fund the return of school librarians, but of course he has just a few other things on his plate. If you are reading this and have any ideas of how to fund the return of librarians in the schools, please, please leave a comment or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to see our libraries thriving again under the direction of persons whose own love of books is so contagious it affects our children?
A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books.... Children learn to read being in the presence of books.
— Horace MANN