Here is a value proposition for teacher librarians as key players in building literacy for a strong democracy. Teacher Librarians:
- Provide K-12 student access to books and online resources
- Teach students (and classroom teachers) online research, cyber safety skills, Digital Citizenship
- Are schoolwide literacy and digital literacy specialists
- Reach thousands of students annually
- Have the largest classroom, reaching all students, over multiple years
- Use and offer the most technology in a school (often a computer lab or classroom set of computers, central depository for classroom technology, online library catalog, largest viewing center for presentations)
- Students visit public libraries on a voluntary, often irregular basis. However, school libraries have a "captive" audience; classroom teachers take their classes to the library for special research and other assignments, book talks, and to get taught digital literacy skills by the teacher librarian.
- School students have library classes and free library access time.* These numbers are potentially a powerful force in increasing literacy and digital literacy. In California, there is now a set of minimum library curriculum standards for information skills, but no "teeth", funding or incentives for school districts to embrace the standards or rebuild their school libraries. [*except when the library hours are cut or library team reduced or eliminated -- this is an incomprehensible and tragic trend in California and across the country. In my wealthy community, the middle and high school libraries are now staffed by teacher librarians who are employed 1/2 time and thus the libraries are less accessible to students.]
Technology companies and other large employers could play an important role in making the argument that school districts should invest in their school library programs and staff.
Learn more about the role and issues related to strong school libraries. See http://librarycampaign.csla.net