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03 September 2012 @ 05:26 pm
L Is for Librarians  
September is Library Card Month. Do you have a library card? I do. I remember my first library, too. It took a street car to reach (back before buses there were these things called street cars), but it was so worth it. My public library was a Carnegie Library near downtown Pittsburgh. It had wood paneling, dinosaur skeletons, and shelf after shelf of books. I started in the children's room and worked my way to the Big Kids' Room. At first, my mom had to accompany me so I could check out books. Later, I could do it all on my own. And I needed the public library because my school's idea of a library was a room full of old "National Geographic" magazines. Even now, with all the books that arrive at the house and office, I love going to the public library down the road (I have two close by) to see what is gracing the shelves.

When College Girl turned 5, she insisted we go to the same public library so she could have her own card. Her school library was much better than the one I had available, but she still loved roaming through the areas and selecting books. She also loves stopping by my office to get books from my shelves. Despite her age, she finds YA books fascinating and fulfilling (I feel good about that).

Libraries are important. And the plural is deliberate. We need classroom libraries. We need to make sure kids have good libraries in the school, too. The public library is as essential. It's not all about books, either. It is about that wonderful professional, the librarian. There are many who think the librarian spends the day checking books in and out of the system, shelving, shushing, and little else. I hear it from people when they ask what I do for a living, "you need to go to school to be a librarian?" Generally, there is shock present in the question. After all, how hard could it be to read all day, right?

As someone who works with preservice school librarians, I know firsthand what it takes to be a good librarian of any sort. Cataloging, reference, collection development, technology, programming, displays, and so much more are part of the day to day activities. Last month's #titletalk with Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp was about teachers and librarians working together, and it drew lots of participants and hundreds of tweets over the course of an hour.

Why discuss this now? Simply: many districts are cutting library positions in favor of more "instructional" staff. Librarians go along with counselors and art and music teachers (though strangely not administrators for the most part) as something "extra" that can be cut without affecting the educational community. Take a look at the replication of the lance study to see what a certified librarian with a good collection can do for the school: http://www.lrs.org/impact.php

So during School Library Month, make friends with the librarians in your community and school. Find out what all they can do for you.
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heathermarsten.wordpress.com on September 7th, 2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
I love librarians
I grew up in a home filled with abuse and books were one means of escape. Librarians provided me with wonderful books. In our neighborhood we had a bookmobile that came every other week during the summer. I lived for those days to check out new books. Without books I would have had no way to escape the horrors of my house.

My kids had the most fantastic librarian when we lived in Cutchogue. She had summer reading programs that other libraries copied years later. We couldn't wait to see how she decorated the children's library - an igloo, canvas draped over the shelves to represent covered wagons. My kids grew up in story hour and still have a love for books fostered from their library days.

Great post.