School cost-cutting measures focus on what are perceived as “extras,” things that are enriching, but not necessary. Though books (in whatever form) are always deemed necessary, their caretakers are not always given the same respect. Especially today, with the excess of written material, librarians are important. They are essential guides to finding the best resources to achieve goals. Here are nine reasons we need to fight to keep our librarians:
1. Librarians Champion Literacy
Librarians know the value of reading for fun. They get to know their “regulars” and their interests. They know which books kids read, so it is easy for them to make suggestions for new material. And they schedule guest readers and in-school reading challenges to encourage avid and reluctant readers alike.
2. Librarians Personalize Recommendations
Part of the job of a librarian is keeping up with new releases. They know what‘s new and can predict what will be popular. Librarians know what kids are reading and what is appropriate for each age and reading level. They encourage individual students to grow by suggesting new works tailored to their interests, thereby encouraging more reading.
3. Librarians Keep Up with the Times
Despite the fact that the ways we research change almost daily, librarians keep up. They demystify reference books and help find the best online databases to meet everyone’s needs. They search for new acquisitions and are proficient at researching online and in print. Students, teachers, and even administrators need current information. Librarians are important because they keep one step ahead.
4. Librarians Find an Answer, No Matter the Question
Whether the information is online, in reference books, or in the stacks, librarians know where to look. They keep up with the latest publications and are familiar with all types of databases. If they don’t have the answer right away, they know where to find it.
5. Librarians Guide and Advise Teachers and Staff
Teachers often don’t have time to read reviews to find appropriate books for their students. Librarians know which books are popular and can suggest a good book to tie in with a specific topic. Since internet research is part of their wheelhouse, they can suggest websites and databases to go to for specific information, allowing teachers to do more teaching and less researching.
6. Librarians are Important Defenders of the Truth
Librarians are on the front line in the fight against fake news and plagiarism. Students need help navigating the online world. In a day where anyone can set up a website and publish “news,” deciphering which sources are worthy is important. Librarians help others separate the fact from the fiction and promote the value of the written word. Teaching and reinforcing these lessons is part of their daily job.
7. Librarians Engage Readers of All Ages and Levels
Everyone loves an author visit. Part celebrity sighting, part motivational tool, a visit from an author can encourage even the most reluctant students to read and write. Librarians know their students and use this knowledge to find the best match for their school. Another favorite program of teachers, parents, and kids, is a “Reading Night” which may feature read-alouds, special guest readers, and hands-on activities related to the stories. Who picks and plans these? You guessed it, the school librarian.
8. Librarians Foster Healthy Competition Through Reading
Though specifics vary by location, many schools participate in “bowl-style” events, where teams of students read books then answer questions about them. The tasks of organizing teams, recruiting coaches, and ensuring the required books are on hand and equally accessible to all teams generally falls to the librarian. With appealing names such as Reading Olympics and Young Readers Awards, students are not only encouraged to read, but are also quizzed on their comprehension and memory skills. Reading is no longer solitary; cooperative teamwork is the path to success.
9. Librarians Facilitate the Growth of School and Personal Libraries
Many young readers look forward to the annual book fair. These portable book stores provide an opportunity for families to add to their at-home libraries, while also adding to the school library. Along with many other administrative tasks, this planning is done by the librarians.
Though much of what they do is unseen, librarians are important —actually crucial—to educational success. Without them, we would be left without so much great literary knowledge.
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