Thursday, September 10, 2009

Closing School Libraries

In Outsourcing Education? from Journeys, Diane states,

“The School Library Journal reports that a California school district, which had previously furloughed its certified media specialists, has now closed all 28 of its K-12 school libraries. Students will only be allowed to visit their building's library with classroom teachers, and may no longer check out books.”

I was truly horrified when I heard this because I have such great memories of my library when I was growing up. It was my library that instilled the love of reading in me (or maybe I always had the love and they just helped it grow). Either way, I’m not sure I would be the avid reader I am today if it hadn’t been for my school library.

As an elementary school student, my librarian took the time to get to know me and find out my interests. I remember her putting books aside for me that she thought I would enjoy. I loved the attention (which I’m sure she gave to many children) and she made me feel special. When I asked for information about certain topics, she would show me how to look for books that might answer my questions. She didn’t just answer them herself so I felt she taught me a skill that I could use all my life. I’m not sure that a classroom teacher has this time or energy to do what this librarian did for me. How many young children will suffer because they don’t have someone like this to encourage them?

When I was in junior high, I remember going to the library as an escape from the angst of teenage years. I attended a school where I was bullied on a pretty regular basis. Early on, I found the library was my refuge. It was open early before school started and available after school also so I would get to school before other kids and read in the library where no one bothered me. As soon as school was over, I would read in the library until it closed and all the bullies had left. I felt like I could travel around the world through books. I really believed that those years hanging out in the library helped me survive those terrible years. If they had closed the school libraries to me during that time, I’m not sure how I would have coped during those times.

When I was in high school, I tended to be an over achiever and took four advanced placement courses (English, French, Biology, and Calculus). Then they had nothing else for me to take and they couldn’t let me out of school that early, so they gave me a couple of study halls and let me hang out in the library. If they closed the library, I don’t know what I would have done for 2 more periods.

I truly believe that by closing the school libraries to students unless they go with their class is doing a major disservice to them. These children can’t even check out books! What about the many children who can’t afford books at home or can’t access computers unless they use the school library computers? I understand with our economy that we need to tighten our belts but I don’t believe this should even be an option. In the long run, this will hurt the students more than helping the financial situation of the school district. I feel a school library that is available to students during the school day is vital in order for them to be successful in school and in life.

Original image: 'Free child looking out a window with reflection stock photo Creative Commons' by: D. Sharon Pruitt


diane said...

It is a sad situation, Pat. Unwrapping a new book at Christmas or my birthday, cycling home from the public library with a basketful of reading material, cuddling up with my children to share a favorite story, feeling the excitement during the school book fair...all this gone? Unimaginable.

IMC Guy said...

This is truly sad. Unfortunately, they may not see how bad of a mistake this is for a few years when test scores go down and families leave the district.

MrsE said...

You are so spot on with this post! School libraries go far beyond handing out books and providing study space. We shelter the kids who outsiders. The cost of ignoring this will be high.

loonyhiker said...

@diane I think we are definitely moving in the wrong directions by closing school libraries!

loonyhiker said...

@IMC Guy I think you are right. We might not see the real impact on this for many years.

loonyhiker said...

@MrsE I don't understand how they can do this. Don't they see that there are some third world countries who would give anything just to have a school library?

M-Dawg said...

Last school year, my district eliminated all the elementary librarians to save money - a total of 8 librarians and 5 asst lost their jobs.

The administration expected the parents to volunteer to help in the library if you can believe that one! By the way, a few parents stepped up but not enough to keep the librarys opened every day. And no offense to the parents, but a trained librarian needs to be in the library.

At my high school, I really count on our librarian. Since I teach history, I take my students down to the library all the time for research days.

Our librarian does SO MUCH for our students not only during the school day but after school. She keeps hours after school for the kids so they can access computers and books. She provides a safe space for a lot of our students after school.

I agree with the other comments here . . . we will eventually see a change in test scores when kids coming up don't know how to read. So sad. :-(

educthms said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
loonyhiker said...

@M-Dawg What a sad situation. I'm so glad that you are there for your students!

loonyhiker said...

@eductms I agree with you!