Did you know that during introductions, most librarians dread answering that question?
Certainly not because we lack passion for our chosen occupation, but because it is one of the most misunderstood professions today. Some librarians try to avoid comments and follow-up questions by generalizing our profession as an educator, but that tends to lead down the same road.
Here are the 3 most common responses:
Do you read all day?
Didn’t technology replace libraries?
Wait, you teach?
Perhaps the general public’s perspective of school libraries and librarians is based on their own personal experience when they attended school, but just like many other professions, we have and will continue to change with the times. Most may still think of a school library as a room that houses books with little cards in little drawers and a nearby librarian waiting to assist. Those little cards were replaced with a user friendly search box within the online card catalog and encyclopedias were replaced with electronic databases. Today, school librarians provide invaluable support to teachers, students and to the overall curriculum.
Technology did not and cannot replace libraries and librarians — quite the opposite. Technology, specifically the Internet, has given libraries and librarians a more important role within schools and the community. With the quantity of information available with one click, it’s more important than ever to teach information literacy that promotes critical thinking skills. Especially in this age of “fake news,” students need to learn how to effectively identify sources and analyze information. In addition, plagiarism, which is addressed heavily while teaching research, is an ever increasing problem with the ease of “copy and paste.” Our responsibilities have increased dramatically with technological advances, but we love our changing role within education.
Yes, in addition to managing multiple libraries (which alone is a full time job), we teach. School librarians are highly trained educators with multiple degrees and teaching certificates. I realized a while ago that I earn more respect when I explain my profession to others as … a district manager of three bookstores (school libraries), with two employees (library assistants), with over 2,000 regular customers (faculty, staff and students) while teaching classes to numerous grades. We have extremely busy schedules where organization and the ability to multi-task are essential.
So no, we do not read all day.
“The most important myth I would like to bust is that kids do not read anymore,” said Celeste Cali, librarian at Lackawanna Trail School District.
Although technology has an increasing presence in libraries, the circulation of print books has not slowed down, especially amongst fiction and biographies. Librarians are constantly finding books for students that match their interests while hoping to instill a lifelong love of reading.
“Why is instilling the love of reading so important? Simply put, while classroom teachers work tirelessly with our students every day to teach the logistics of reading and produce skilled readers, we are given the opportunity and resources to inspire our students to want to read, whether for information or pleasure. We introduce children to all types of quality literature that they would never have discovered on their own.” — Lynn Monelli, Scranton School District Librarian
We are constantly promoting the books on the shelves that students may pass by. Almost all of the World War II books (nonfiction, historical fiction and biographies) are currently checked-out in my one library simply because I pointed them out to my 6th graders who are currently learning about the war. An ongoing responsibility of a school librarian is making sure that the collection mirrors and supplements the curriculum.
Does your child have library class? Do you know what he or she is learning and how the librarian assists them on a daily basis? Inquire with the librarian … they would love to hear from you. I love receiving emails from parents informing me of their child’s interests so I can direct them to books that interest them.
Fact: school librarians increase student achievement. A study by Scholastic in 2016 called libraries “the largest classroom in the school,” and that “Schools with a school library staffed by a full-time certified teaching school librarian have a high impact on increasing student achievement regardless of socioeconomic or education levels of the community.”
“If schools eliminate librarians and library curriculum, there are too many negative effects to list. The most devastating effect: there will be a noticeable decline in the number of students who are reading simply for enjoyment.”—Lynn Monelli,
Please support HB 740 which requires that every child in a Pennsylvania public school have access to a certified librarian: saveschoollibrarians.org/pslahb740