Obviously, this is a topic near and dear to me as I work in the Department of Library Science at Sam Houston State University (GO BEARKATS!) and have been on faculty there for more than 20 years. I know the research (Keith Curry Lance) that has been replicated more than a dozen times in different states that shows that the presence of a certified librarian with an adequate collection means higher test scores (and though I do not think test scores are the reason for libraries and librarians, it is an awfully good reason in this test-crazed environment). So, why the paucitu of librarians and libraries? It's all about the Benjamins, of course. Some experts point to campus-based decision making where on individual campuses the decisions were made to hire literacy coaches (and is many schools test coaches) rather than fund a librarian. After all, parent volunteers coul.d check books in and out of the library, right? How hard could that be? Kids can be taught to shelve. Problem solved.
If all a librarian did was check books in and out and shelve them, I suppose this solution is OK. But the work of the librarian (and I am talking school librarians here, but public librarians do more than checking in and out and shelving, too) is not so simple. Take a look at the coursework required for an MLS (you can look at our program here: http://www.shsu.edu/~lis_www/programs.html). This is the coursework and still does not account for all librarians do in the course of a single day. Add to this the fact that many librarians are also tech staff and textbook accountants and hall monitors and babysitters (during their "free" period), and I hope you will see there is much more to the job.
OK, I have ranted long enough. Here is what a terrific librarian can do for kids to help them become lifelong readers:
3. reader's advisory
4. collection development
5. collaboration with classroom teachers
6. be yet another model of reading and writing and literacy
There is more, but you get the idea, right? During this holiday season, I wish you good libraries and librarians to manage them.