Opinion: College, career and democracy ready? Not without a trained librarian

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU, and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.

I had a conversation recently with a Connecticut politician in which I’d asked him if we truly care about literacy and improving reading skills, why are we spending so much money on testing while schools that most need functioning libraries don’t have any? Or if they do have a school library, why don’t they have up-to-date materials or a qualified media specialist to put the right book in the hands of a child at the right time?

When I’d asked the question, this politician asked me if research existed to justify the salary of a media specialist. I suspect this politician knows full well such research exists. It’s been well documented for years. But let’s review a few of most recent studies here.

In their January 2012 study, Keith Curry Lance and Linda Hofschire looked at the Change in School Librarian Staffing Linked with Change in CSAP Reading Performance 2005 to 2011, (CSAP is a Colorado state test).

Their conclusion, consistent with findings of many previous studies, found that “regardless of how rich or how poor a community is, students tend to perform better on reading tests where, and when, their library programs are in the hands of endorsed librarians . . . At schools where library programs lose or never had an endorsed librarian, students suffer as a result.”

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.


3 responses to “Opinion: College, career and democracy ready? Not without a trained librarian”

  1. Suzanne

    Sarah, Congratulations! You certainly rose to the research requested by the CT politician. Now if he/she would only read it. I absolutely not only believe but have seen in our children the importance of school librarians. Frankly, it is clear that education in this state has so lost its way, it does not know how important reading, literacy and librarians are to student achievement. You have presented the data now it’s time for CT politicians to step up to the plate. I am aghast at the ignorance that led to such severe cuts in the school librarian staffing in the first place. Perhaps these politicians would rather watch re-runs of “24” – but that doesn’t help our kids.

  2. Lifelong Teacher

    Librarians can’t do much without books!!! Norwalk schools without Title I funding are woefully behind the times. Checked ours recently and most of the non fiction titles are from the 1980s. Help! PTOs and fundraisers should not have to do this job.

    And we’ve never had trained librarians in the elementary schools. They’ve been aides with zero training,

  3. Suzanne

    Dear Lifelong Teacher, I don’t know if this is still done, but I bought my first book that was all mine through a Scholastic Book Club that was specifically a fundraiser for new school books in our library. Do they still do this?
    I was a student teacher years ago in the Watts/Compton area. The only books in those classrooms were books the teachers had obtained at the used book drop for wealthier districts in the San Fernando Valley.
    If there was a book drive, specifically for the schools mentioned, do you think your library books could become more relevant to the students? Those that weren’t could be sold on EBAY or ABE Books and revenues raised for new/used books this way. I have found our local librarian to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful about what books are most helpful to children by age group or ability.
    Where I come from, one cannot wait for the government or the school district to provide. Self-reliance is key and the only option. I know teachers are exhausted but maybe students could take up the project as a group activity?

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