The Saratoga Sun -

State certified librarians make a difference academically

 


Dear Editor,

I hope that I don’t offend anyone with this letter, but I am worried for our students. Like most parents, I’m disappointed to see staff cuts, although I know declining budgets force hard decisions that please nobody. I have attended as many meetings as possible to show my concern. At these meetings, I have remained mostly silent, preferring to leave the speeches to those more eloquent. But when it comes to librarians I’m obliged to speak up. If it is true that the Saratoga Elementary and Middle/Senior library staff will soon be reduced by half, I think the CCSD#2 Board of Trustees and the public should be fully aware of what our students will lose. The American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association, has researched and documented the many ways librarians benefit young minds. Here are a select few:

Research in 21 states has provided significant evidence indicating the value added to a student’s academic development by the presence of a strong school library program led by a credentialed librarian.

Interactions with a school librarian aid children and teens in becoming confident, competent, and independent learners.

Students achieve more academically when their teachers and school librarians plan and deliver instruction collaboratively.

Students are more likely to be successful academically if they have the benefit of library program led by state certified school librarian.

Students are more successful academically when their teachers benefit from professional development opportunities offered by their librarian colleagues.

Disadvantaged students have a better chance of succeeding academically when they attend schools with strong library programs.

Students learn how to evaluate and use information—not just how to find and access it—from school librarians.

Students and their teachers make more effective use of the internet and other digital resources after learning about them from school librarians.

Librarians matter. The library is not a glorified computer lab to be staffed by the person who is most “tech savvy”. While the world of information is increasingly housed in electronic formats, a good librarian will teach a child to find the best source of information in any form. With information growing exponentially on the World Wide Web, it’s more critical than ever to help kids learn the difference between what’s reliable and what’s false; what’s outdated and what’s current; what’s relevant and what’s irrelevant. Without these skills, they may as well try to drink from a fire hose.

While I do not know either the current librarian at SES or the person staffing the library at SMHS, I do think the person with the most experience and credentials should be the one to provide library services in both libraries, especially if that person is willing. It just makes more sense. Unfortunately, because the district will not discuss matters of personnel, we won’t know the official decision until it is too late to join the conversation. Instead we are told, somewhat patronizingly, that they will base their decision on what they “think is best for the kids”. But I, for one, am not mollified.

Adelaide Fletcher, Saratoga

Source: American Library Association. “Add It Up: Libraries Make The Difference in Youth Development and Education.” American Library Association. 1997-2013. Web. Accessed May 28, 2013 http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/advocacyuniversity/additup.

 

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