Gone are the days when a school librarian’s job was defined by shushing, rocking, and reading. While reading out loud and building a love of literacy is still a foundational part of their job in a school, school librarians wear many, many hats and touch many lives in the course of a day’s work.
As an avid, life-long reader, I can come up with dozens of things I love about school librarians and libraries (I was actually named by a librarian!) But for a broader perspective, I wanted to hear from my peers, colleagues, and the educators out there doing the heavy lifting, so I turned to influential library experts, educators, and social media to share their thoughts.
I loved what I heard from the people I spoke to. Many shared my own impressions, and some introduced me to their own reasons why school librarians are amazing at what they do. I’m proud to share my thoughts and what others told me here.
1. Librarians are the keepers (and more importantly, the sharers) of the books
CEO of education publisher Capstone Randi Economou says, “They lead the way for learning by igniting a love for reading.”
Follett sales rep Pam Hinds reminds us, “They ‘house’ the best weapons in the world!”
Customer service rep here at Follett, Suzanne Florek, says, “Of course, I have my favorite librarians I talk to! I think the reason they might be on the top of my list is because of how genuinely caring people they are. They are kind, patient, knowledgeable, motivating, just as excited to see new books as their students are. They show students how they can be transformed into a fantasy world, futuristic world, find out how things work or just learn about new places or history and people that made their mark on this world for many reasons. They show kids they can be anything they want to be, and they can learn more about EVERYTHING. That is a big role to play in our children’s lives and therefore we need them to play that very important role. I thank all our librarians for all the encouragement they provide to our children. A child that loves to read will go many places in their life.
2. Librarians cross paths with every student in a school
What other position within a school interacts with teachers, administrators, and students in all grades? The school library and its staff are unique in how many lives they touch and the vast reach of their expertise, according to John Chrastka, Founder and Executive Director of Every Library, a political action committee for libraries that advocates for funding and support. “The most powerful aspect of school libraries is that it is the one academic unit that reaches every student in the school,” says Chrastka. “Sometimes it is through school librarians pushing into a class about research topics. Sometimes it’s supporting learning across the curriculum. But every student can have their school librarian be a partner in finding new, relevant, and interesting things to read. We can’t discount how important independent reading is in literacy development and educational attainment. A certified school librarian is a key resource for those students.”
Follett Destiny trainer Michele Kuempel agrees and shares her thoughts from a different perspective. “As a former school librarian, one of my favorite parts of the job was that I actively interacted with every student and teacher on campus – regardless of grade or subject area,” said Kuemple. “Very few members of a campus team can say that they get to do this!”
3. Librarians know books better than anyone
Librarians know what’s in their collections, and well beyond. They are voracious readers and chances are, if you throw out an author’s name, most librarians know that person’s work. They frame history by the books they’ve read, and they find comfort and connection through? their favorites. How often do we hear questions posed to librarians like, “it had a red cover and was a coming-of-age tale set in the 1960s” and lo and behold, a librarian can put a finger on the right book.
Follett’s publisher relations coordinator Amanda Deubel says, “Librarians always make the best book recommendations after hearing your interests and have a keen ability to know what book you are looking for even if you are only able to provide random bits of information about it.”
Modern students need modern librarians
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