Sunday, December 11, 2016

Where Have All the Teacher-Librarians Gone?

It’s hard to imagine that school districts across the country have cut down or totally eliminated the positions of library media specialists. Now that we are sixteen years into the 21st century, one would have imagined this educational position to be considered one of THE most important in the school.  Without literate students and graduates, how could we expect them to thrive in college and the outside world? So many uninformed administrations have believed that as long as the Internet and Google are there, they can save money by not hiring a teacher-librarian. As author Neil Gaiman said, “Google can bring you back 100,00 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

One area that we thought was going to make a dent in the printed page was e-Books. While many schools purchased Kindles or other e-Readers, too many were not able to afford the cost.
 The advent of 3D printers and makerspaces has taken off, with many activities occurring in the media center during and after school hours. But what happens when there is no one to run the school library? What happens to our children without someone there who can really explain how to evaluate a website? How to locate a book on the Holocaust? A biography on a world leader? Is this the direction public education is heading?

When I left my position as a media specialist in June 2016, I was both surprised and upset that the district was not going to replace me. I was located in a junior-senior high school, (
grades 7-12) and was the ONLY media specialist in this five-school district. My last year, I was given $0 for my budget. That's when I knew it was time to move on. It's clear that the students will be the ones who will suffer because of this.  

If it all comes down to money, districts need to reevaluate their budgets. This is one place they cannot afford to cut.


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