Monday, June 27, 2016
Are School Libraries In Danger of Being Replaced?
I think every day is a good day for a book. Squeeze in a little reading time as well as your writing time. You'll reap the benefits over and over.
I read an article in today's Kansas City newspaper that startled me, upset me, and gave me a great deal of food for thought. The article detailed a new trend in schools. When librarians retire, new ones are not being hired. Instead, schools are putting in maker spaces to sharpen science and creative skills and to encourage teamwork.
The article states that grade schools haven't much need anymore for the libraries of 20 years ago. Children are given tablets or notebooks and can read books on them rather than go to the school library. We're in the digital age which I must admit to. I also think that the maker spaces are innovative and beneficial to the children of today.
Even so, it hurts me to think of school libraries being obliterated. The article featured a Kansas City suburban school librarian who spoke to her school board about the importance of books in a child's life and a place where they can go to select one of the many on the shelves. One of her quotes was "Stories, stories and more stories" and I imagine she stated it with gusto.
Four of the schools in this suburban area have hired 'innovation specialists' to run their libraries when fall classes begin. That's the term given to those who conduct the hands-on labs of creation and computer-assisted innovation. The movement is nationwide and more about robotics than dealing with reading.
The article noted that the word librarian was not included in the job description for an innovation specialist in one school. Nor were the words stories, books, literature or shelves.
Innovation specialists need only be certified to teach elementary education. A school librarian is state-certified. There is a difference but I imagine the state-certified librarian will go the way of the dinosaur before too very long.
The maker spaces are deemed so important in today's education world that schools are seeking space for them, and that library is considered prime property.
Click on the article link above if you'd like to read the entire story. I'm in no way putting down the maker space movement but I am heartsick over the trend of losing our school libraries because of this new innovation. I worry that, over time, children will not seek out stories and books on their pc, tablet or notebook. I would hope that the classroom teacher would urge that they do so. The classroom teacher will have to put on one more hat. She/he will be the new librarian.
I think of the many hours of joy I have found in my school libraries and my local library and I want that for my grandchildren, too. I sincerely hope that school systems will find a way to include both the maker spaces and school libraries. Space and funding will be a problem but let's hope the librarians left will blaze the trail.