Sojourner Truth Library, SUNY New Paltz
Why are School Libraries Important?
School libraries are critical gathering places. In my school it was generally a place where teachers sent “the bad kids” because they knew they’d be well taken care of there. And they so were. Sometimes I wish I had “acted out” more so I’d get to be there. They got to shelve books, read, do homework, help the librarian put together lesson plans, ask questions, or, more rarely, just goof off (but quietly!).
How has a School Librarian or Library Impacted You?
Listen, I’m a librarian now, but I was a royally confused teenager who made dumb choices and the library really helped me work some stuff out and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one. From 2:30 to 3:45 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (would have been every day if I could) I was in there doing homework, working on the school’s literary magazine, listening to the sounds of different bird calls on the computers (seriously though), putting together the giant pizza puzzle that was in there. I went there to be alone but surrounded by people at the same time. Our high school librarian even let us call her by her first name which for some reason automatically made her a confidant of many students that didn’t have other adults to talk to. The library is where you go to do “your work”, however you define that. Students need this space as a place that isn’t work or home or a classroom to figure out whatever “their work” is. I definitely think part of the motivation to become a librarian came from wanting to replicate the feeling I got when I was in my school’s library.
How Does the Work of School Libraries Impact Your Work as a Library Professional or Person?
As an academic librarian I come in contact with students every day whose most recent experience with libraries generally comes from wherever it is they went to high school. Most students have their fondest memories of libraries in their elementary, middle, or high school library where they were recommended a book that changed their lives, were given a safe and quiet space to do their work or use the internet, or were taught how to utilize tools and resources in order to find out more about the world. By the time they get to me, they already have a groundwork in libraries that is so important for them and the experience that they will have later in college.
For the first time we are seeing strong language protecting School Libraries in national education policy. ESEA is up for a vote and this bill will be CRUCIAL to the future of school libraries, a section of the profession that has been under assault for decades. An Assault on One is an Assault on ALL. Stand up for School Libraries in America TODAY!
Find your Elected Official in the House
1. Contact your Representative to let them know how essential this bill is to our children’s education and futures.
2. Contact absolutely everyone you know and ask them to do the same thing.
· Vote Yes on the Every Student Succeeds Act Conference Report.
· School libraries are critical to our children’s future and the Conference Report includes critical language to support effective school library programs.
This language is historic: For the first time in half a century Congress has underscored the importance of effective school library programs by expressly including them in multiple parts of this watershed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Join the movement to protect school libraries and call Congress today.