There is an article that has been floating around the internet for awhile now called How a School Library Increased Student Use by 1000% . At first glance the article looks really incredible, and helpful for all the librarians out there that are looking to change up their "traditional library" and include a makerspace. The school did a total redesign of the space and added technology, new furniture, a green screen and more. Students and teachers started to utilize the space much more because it allowed for more collaboration, creativity and the ability for people to connect and grow. All great things!
The problem is this "library" does not have a full time certified librarian in it. This district and many many others (including the South Orange/Maplewood School District, where I use to work and where my child goes to school) made the decision to eliminate certified librarians. One of the many arguments I hear is that with the Internet and technology there is not as much of a need for a librarian... and who needs a librarian in a makerspace. These argument is so misguided and wrong for some many reasons but I do think this letter by the American Library Association, American Association of School Librarian, New Jersey Association of School Librarians, Dr. Joyce Valenza, myself and many more experts in the field does a good job explaining why we must have certified school librarians in every school.
This leads me to the point of this post, should we continue to call the the space a library if there is no certified librarian in it? I am starting to think we should not. What do you think? What would you call it instead?
4/25/2016 11:14:48 pm
4/25/2016 11:17:42 pm
Edits- I jumped in thoughts--Just to clarify--the issue here is no qualifications are needed to work in a school library so a variety of people acquire the position and many are excellent and seek PD...then I went on to imply that I believe it's also very important to be a certified teacher before becoming a school librarian. thanks
4/27/2016 08:53:50 am
Great Post Elissa! Our mutual friend, Sophie (@BlavetSophie), Tweeted a link to this article and I find it greatly needed. In my opinion, renaming a library is great & doing a Makeover is even better, but unless the school has an effective & certified school librarian, so much will be lost! The key note here is that the certified librarian should be highly effective.
4/27/2016 02:41:26 pm
4/28/2016 09:19:45 am
A library without a Certified Librarian is just a room full of books! We make books shine and come to life!!! Thanks Elissa and Mike....
5/10/2016 03:15:31 pm
Well, as one of those "non-certified" library staffers, your thoughts make me sad. It was not my choice for the school I work at to stop hiring certified librarians. In fact, I strongly support the case for having certified librarians. BUT...the other library aides (one of which has 20+ years of library experience) and I do our darndest every day to make up for that loss. To say that we shouldn't be able to use the term "library" is an unkind evaluation of the work we do (and the pittance we get paid to do it.)
8/14/2016 11:39:43 pm
I agree with Sandy. To minimize those individuals who sacrifice their time and family to service their schools as a library aide is a disservice to those individuals. I put everything I have in my library. Telling me I am not a librarian or that the facility is simply a room because I don't have certificate is a travesty and, quite frankly, I'm rather sick of it. I helped develop the curriculum for the area elementary. I catalog, order, label, shelve books. I hold book fairs. I've made positive changes by bringing in new reading programs and books. I read. I teach. I help. I guide. Do not try to tell me where I work is not a library and don't you dare try to devalue what I am passionate about! I was told outright that if I became a certified librarian, I would be pulled out of the library and placed in a classroom. You tell me, what would be my incentive to become certified as a librarian? Yes, I'm not certified, but maybe those of you who are should show some appreciation for those who do the best they can with what the districts give them instead of criticizing those of us who are just as passionate about the written word, source citations, and research skills as you are.
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Elissa Malespina is the High School Librarian at Verona High School and a Presenter, Author and much more. The views are my own. Find my full resume above.