Friday, January 27, 2012

What's a school without a library? Sad, that's what it is.

Every child in American should have access to a well-stocked school library. ~~Laura Bush

Laura Bush Library

I was fortunate enough to get to work at one of my favorite places the other day: the Coleraine Public Library.  It was kind of quiet in the morning, so I weeded through all that junk email that I rarely have time to go through.  I came across one that urged us to sign a petition to help fund school libraries.  

The role of a school librarian is different than that of a public library worker.  They have a stronger link to the children and their needs.  They give instruction as to the proper care and feeding of books.  They give instruction on how to find books.  They give instruction on how to find information.  They know what is going on in classrooms and play a role in providing teachers with materials to suppliment their instruction.  ( i.e. They know when the second grade class is studying trees and pull books for the teachers and students.)  School librarians lay the foundation with their students.  A child who has been to the school library understands how a library works.  They understand how to research topics to find the information they're searching for. 

The public library is able to provide books geared more towards pleasure reading.  A public library provides books that don't have anything to do with what is being studied in the classroom, books that are to be read just for the fun of it. 

The kids at our elementary school have been very lucky.  Not only do they have a beautiful, welcoming school library; but they have a public library right across the street.  The best of both worlds.  If a child is done with their schoolwork, they are free to go to the school library and read or take AR tests.  Once a week, their teacher may take them across the street for a short visit to the library to pick out something fun to read.  Once a week the class also visits the school library.  How great!  They are being given ample opportunities to develop a love of reading.  You can tell that they do love it.  Every time they walk into the Coleraine Public Library, their faces are alive with excitement over the books waiting to be checked out. 

Last year the school librarian had a smart board in her library.  She was able to turn the kids on to watching the bear cam, eagle cam, and more.  Those kids would then find books about eagles and bears to learn more about it.  How great!  Kids that maybe wouldn't have thought to check out a book like that are given the opportunity to expand their horizons because of a dedicated school librarian.  Both of my children brought home the web addresses to these cameras so that they could check on the bear den at home. 

A big thank you needs to go out to all school librarians who provide a place for children to explore beyond what is taught in the classrooms.  They also deserve a big thank you for tapping into the interests of children to find books that will spark a desire to read.  Thank you for exposing my child to more books than I possibly could on my own.  Thank you for taking the time to teach them how to behave in a library and how to treat the materials found in a library with respect.

How often does a reduction in education funding manifest itself in the school library?  Too often.  Technology is the wave of the future, so who needs books?  Unfortunately, technology is being seen as something that replaces libraries instead of being an extension of the services libraries offer.  Libraries=Information.  Technology=Information.  If we're getting rid of one to suppliment the other, aren't we robbing ourselves?  It's like taking everything you already know, but getting rid of half of it in order to add something.  Why can't we just learn more? 

I urge you to sign the petition.  It's pretty easy.  You do need to set up an account, but it was about the quickest account I've ever set up.  They need 25,000 signatures by February 4th, and needed only 7,027 more when last I checked.  Click here to help ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program.  Please, it's so important to our children.


 The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history. -Carl Rowan


  1. Great blog- I agree that school libraries and public libraries serve different purposes; both extremely important. School libraries and librarians provide "guided learning" and legitimate resources to lead you to become a well rounded, educated life-long learner. Public libraries are a means for you to continue with that that life-long learning! By taking away a public library, it's like saying "Ok, you're done with school, well you're done learning then." And by taking away a school library you are not even giving kids a chance to begin with! Also, with no school libraries, that is just an invitation for kids to go home and "google" everything for their research and come up with questionable resources. This is a no-brainer.

  2. One more thing. I can tell you first hand as a high-school student not too long ago (ok it's been 10 years but whose counting) and now as a college-educated and certified high school teacher, that if these kids don't have a library at school to do their research and have time allotted during school hours to use that library, there is a slim-to-none chance they will take time out of their "busy schedules" to go to the public library. They are high-schoolers, they will find something else to do with their time, and resort to the internet for all sources.

  3. Interesting points have been made by Alicia and Katie. It is disturbing to me that the School District is even considering not having a library at the elementary school. This should be a must for young children; an in-school, hands on, ready to use part of their daily curriculum. Materials used in school libraries are not available at the public library and in the case of the Coleraine Public Library, it does not have the space to absorb these materials from the VanDyke or Middle School libraries. It, (the Coleraine Public Library) should be considered an addition to a School library, not instead of!! The Librarian at the Coleraine Library has had a program since 2001 for teachers at VanDyke to schedule visits to the library. Not all of the teachers choose to do so and that is as it should be. This program has worked well for all and will be continued as before. The library is open to all students as it is to the public at large during the hours as posted. The school does not provide after school time for those students who must wait for parents to pick them up and are welcomed at the Library. Some of this is due to sports events at the Scofield Bldg. where they can't get in there until the time of these events.
    When the public was informed of the plan for a "one campus" they were told there was room for EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING at Greenway High School and VanDyke. Now they want to encroach on the Public Library and possibly other local facilities for space. From Plan 1, they are now at Plan 4 and no one seems to know what any of these plans involve. The School District should reconsider and keep a library at the VanDyke School.