Why libraries in K-12 schools are important

26 Dec

Kimberly Shearer, Kentucky Teacher of the Year, has a great piece in Kentucky Teacher, Why You Need Your School Librarian:

Now, think about the Common Core Standards. These standards emphasize 21st-century skills and require our students to be able to collaborate with others within small and large communities. They require our students to be able to locate and evaluate sources using technology. And they require our students to be able to share information and to build their own arguments while considering things such as audience, purpose and language. Sound familiar? All of these skill sets are not too far from the behaviors our students exhibit when they utilize social media like Facebook. Those relevant connections between their personal and their academic lives are so important for teachers to make in our classrooms.  

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of creativity and know-how to generate such connections for our students. The good news? We have our school librarians to help. School librarians have the resources, training and knowledge to help us make those meaningful connections between the Common Core Standards and our students’ interests and lives. Here’s why you need your school librarian now more than ever:

  • Students must be able to evaluate information. Technology has ensured that our students have unlimited access to information. While this is exciting, it is also frightening. Our students must be able to sort through all this information and separate the credible from the unreliable. Your school librarian can help you co-plan and co-teach lessons that focus on the evaluation of sources and information, providing your students with the discernible eye they’ll need to survive in college and the workplace. 

  • Students must be able to collaborate. Technology and today’s global economy have made it necessary for our students to master collaborative skills. Being a part of a community in which they must share ideas, work and goals is important to students’ personal and academic growth. Your librarian can help you generate collaborative projects for your students that incorporate both information literacy and the Common Core Standards. And, working with your librarian helps you refine your collaborative skills, as well.

  • Students must master technology. Regardless of the career paths they choose, all your students must be able to use technology to locate and create information. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t rely on computer software for day-to-day operations. Your school librarian can help you develop lessons for your students that focus on both content objectives and technology objectives. Blogs, digital stories, website creation – there are endless possibilities for transforming your current assessments into something more meaningful (and — GASP — more enjoyable) for your students. 

  • Students must be readers. Reading skills are always said to be the gateway skills to all subject areas. If a student can’t read, he or she is not going to flourish in any subject area. And the best way to get our students reading is to help them find the right book. When students find a book that gets them excited, they are more likely to pick up another book. And when they continue to pick up more books, their reading fluency and their vocabulary are going to improve. Your school librarian can help match your students’ interests with the right books, and he or she can help you incorporate more books into your curriculum to help support student learning. Plus, reading for enjoyment has its advantages, as well. Nothing beats a good book, and our students will benefit personally from becoming readers, too.     http://www.kentuckyteacher.org/kentucky-teacher-of-the-year/2012/07/why-you-need-your-school-librarian/

Chancellor Kaya Henderson of D.C. Public Schools is reaching the same conclusions as Ms. Shearer.

Emma Brown reports in the Washington Post article, DCPS should guarantee librarians in every school, task force recommends:

All D.C. public schools should be guaranteed money to hire a librarian, according to a task force convened by Chancellor Kaya Henderson to make recommendations regarding school libraries.


Research supports a strong library component in K-12 schools.

The December 2012 District of Columbia Public Schools School Library Task Force:

Recommendations for School Library Media Programs reported about prior studies:

The results from studies on the impact of school library media programs on student achievement have been consistent. For example:


higher numbers and weekly hours of librarian and total library staff;

offering more weekly hours for flexible access/scheduling;

librarians spending more time planning and teaching cooperatively with classroom teachers, and providing in-service training to teachers;

larger collections of print volumes and video materials;

access to more library and school computers that connect to Access Michigan, library catalogs and licensed databases, and the Internet and the World Wide Web;

more frequent individual and group visits to the library; and

spending more on library operations.

(Rodney, Lance, Hamilton-Pennell, 2003)


school librarian and total library staff hours per 100 students;

print volumes per student;

periodical subscriptions, video materials, and software packages per 100 students; and

school library expenditures per student.

(Lance, Rodney, and Hamilton-Pennell, 2003, VII)


school librarian staff hours; and

support staff hours.


teach cooperatively with teachers;

integrate information literacy skills standards and curriculum;

provide in-service training to teachers;

serve on standards committee;

serve on curriculum committee; and

manage information technology.

(Lance, Rodney, and Hamilton-Pennell, 2000 and 2011)


The American Library Association (ALA) has a position statement about library resources.

Here is the ALA Position Statement on Appropriate Staffing for School Libraries:

The success of any school library program, no matter how well designed, depends ultimately on the quality and number of the personnel responsible for the program. A well-educated and highly motivated professional staff, adequately supported by technical and clerical staff, is critical to the endeavor.

Although staffing patterns are developed to meet local needs, certain basic staffing requirements can be identified. Staffing patterns must reflect the following principles:

  1. All students, teachers, and administrators in each school building at all grade levels must have access to a library program provided by one or more certificated school librarian working full-time in the schools library.
  2. Both professional personnel and support staff are necessary for all library programs at all grade levels. Each school must employ at least one full-time technical assistant or clerk for each school librarian. Some programs, facilities, and levels of service will require more than one support staff member for each professional.
  3. More than one library professional is required in many schools. The specific number of additional professional staff is determined by the schools size, number of students and of teachers, facilities, specific library program. A reasonable ratio of professional staff to teacher and student populations is required in order to provide for the levels of service and library program development described in Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs.

All school systems must employ a district library director to provide leadership and direction to the overall library program. The district director is a member of the administrative staff and serves on committees that determine the criteria and policies for the districts curriculum and instructional programs. The director communicates the goals and needs of both the school and district library programs to the superintendent, board of education, other district-level personnel, and the community. In this advocacy role, the district library director advances the concept of the school librarian as a partner with teachers and promotes a staffing level that allows the partnership to flourish.

Revised 09/01/2010 http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslissues/positionstatements/appropriatestaffing

School libraries are evolving with technology.

Moi wrote in The changing role of school libraries:

Laura Devaney wrote the article, School libraries changing with move to digital resources, which was posted at eSchool News.

As schools across the nation move from printed textbooks to digital materials and digital learning environments, school libraries are adapting to keep pace—and new advancements are changing the very definition of school libraries and library media specialists.

Many of today’s students do not know what a card catalog is, and challenges lie not in locating information about various topics, but in narrowing it down and determining whether resources are trustworthy or not…

I see librarians as media specialists,” McConnell said. “We still have literacy, whether it’s reading or research…the librarian is the perfect partner for the classroom. The role of the librarian has shifted” for the digital age, he said.

McConnell said thinking about physical learning space is critical even as school districts and higher education migrate to digital resources and virtual workspaces…

We think about different ways of doing business, and it’s not all about economics—it’s also about quality,” Suddreth said. “There are quality resources, and there are not-so-quality resources, and going with the cheapest model is not always the best. Tech directors are the perfect people to make it really clear to people that purchasing the least expensive model is not always going to support teaching and learning.”

Other challenges include:

Content expertise—Nearly every subject area has people who are proponents of that subject area being taught in a particular way, and other people who are against a particular method.
Hardware—Not every school has computers or tablets for every single student, even though 90 percent of all homes have a computer at home and 70 percent of the population has internet access. “Having hardware in the schools is something we see as our responsibility for students who don’t have it at home, but it’s also a challenge,” Suddreth said.
Security—Often of great concern to parents is what student access. Also, issues arise regarding protecting student information. Online assessments lead to security concerns.
Parent reactions—While student are very excited about working with the technology, where they can really be immersed in learning games or web research, parents are not always familiar with that and have concerns over what their students might be able to access. Parents sometimes have a fear of letting go of a more traditional way of learning.
Accessibility—This includes non-native English speakers and students with disabilities, as well as students’ ability to access the internet at home. “In Utah, because we have large families, when a family has five or six children and one computer, this does pose a problem after school,” Suddreth said.

McConnell said that as technology changes learning, libraries are evolving and will partner with students and faculty to help everyone understand how to research topics and filter information.


For many children a library is where the are introduced to reading and learning.


Are School Librarians Expendable?                    http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/06/26/are-school-librarians-expendable

The True Value of the Work We Do http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/articles/Tilley2011-v27n8p45.html


Reading is a key component of learning                     https://drwilda.com/2012/01/18/reading-is-a-key-component-of-learning/

Helping at-risk children start a home library                   https://drwilda.com/2012/06/13/helping-at-risk-children-start-a-home-library/

More research about the importance of reading              https://drwilda.com/2012/06/05/more-research-about-the-importance-of-reading/

Where information leads to Hope. ©                  Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                         http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

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9 Responses to “Why libraries in K-12 schools are important”


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