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Monday, January 17, 2011

No libraries?

Where is Colonel Mustard going to kill Mr. Body with the Lead Pipe??

Wait, no, we're not talking about THAT kind of library. Recent articles, including this one from, bemoan the impending demise of the school library. A lot of schools are deciding that budget cuts have to be made, and the library and librarians are the place to start.

This becomes today's INTERACTIVE MONDAY topic. How valuable is your school's library/librarian? How much of a loss would it be to lose it/them?

We have had several librarians at my school since I began teaching. The one we have currently is AWESOME. She reads to the kids. She points out interesting new books. She instantly knows where a book is when a child asks for it, and she has the patience of a saint when checking books in and out.

The rise of ereaders like the Kindle and the Nook are, according to many, the heralds of the end of the paper book era. In these circles, traditional books are called DTBs -- Dead Tree Books.

Personally, I LOVE the advent of these ereaders, because it has allowed me to get my own book out to literally thousands more people than I would have otherwise. Yet I remain a DTB loyalist. I've read a few books on my iphone, and it's pretty neat and convenient. Yet I still enjoy turning a page, inserting a physical bookmark, and admiring the 3-dimensional cover of a "real" book.

I can't imagine a world without libraries. Yet that may be where we're going. What are your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I spent most of my childhood at the library. I had few friends and would walk 2 miles to the library and read everything I could get my hands on. I would walk around and read magazines, look things up that interested me, and read books my mother may not have wanted me to read : Judy Blume anyone?
Reading is a marvelous escape. It's a shame to take that away.
To blame it on the e-reader is not fair though. People pay for most of the books on an e-reader, but the library is fun to sit around and read and research. I think the internet itself has lessened the need to go to the library. I had to do research in a library, look through books and sources, encyclopedias, etc... But now all that info is readily available at a few clicks of the mouse.
I love my e-reader and don't really miss DTBs. I read for the story, to escape, to feel emotions of happiness , sadness, shock, mystery, fantasy, love. I get those through my Kindle and my IPad. I love the story, not the book.
My e-reader has allowed me to discover new talents and read books that I never would have know existed. It allows me to meet other like-minded people in the forums, who are story lovers just like myself.
I am sad to think that any library would close, but I think the culprit is the information available on the Internet and not the E-reader market. After all, you can borrow e- books from some libraries.

- Dina S.

courtney rebecca said...

It's interesting how you describe what your school librarian does, because what you've described is what my library aide does. I'm a first year teacher librarian at a K-6 school, and my job description is vastly different than the librarians I followed into the profession. The main focus of my position is technology integration into the curriculum, followed distantly by reader's advisory and all of the other "traditional librarian" tasks. I spend most of my time co-teaching in classrooms with teachers, helping their students (and them) learn technology skills. This might sound weird, but in the school model for my district, we have no technology or computer teachers. The librarian is it!

The job of the librarian (at least in public schools) is no longer just about reading. We must support the curriculum. I also teach information literacy (which is vital in our Internet age) and Internet safety.

My principal is super involved in what I do, and I know she'll support me as we go through cuts. Yes, even with a job as big as mine with all the technology responsibilities (I'm also the resident "come fix my computer/doc cam/projector" person because my teachers are non techy. But they are getting better!) plus all the library responsibilities (inventory, overdues, ordering, book fairs, author visits), the district is still considering cutting us to half time. If anyone from the board came and spent ONE day with me, they would realize that it would be impossible to do my job effectively with half the time. Anyway, that's what I'm dealing with right now.

I see my job as very valuable (and I realize I'm biased), but I think if you asked my overworked and underappreciated teachers, they would agree. I do the things that they don't have time to do. They all have Ed Tech/Info Lit standards that they are responsible for. I take those off their backs in our collaborations.

I don't think e-readers are going to bring about the end of libraries, because you have to pay for them. Libraries are free and always will be. We still have a big divide between those with technology, and those who don't and can't afford it. The library will continue to exist. It just might look different.

(By the way, I started reading your blog over a year ago because at the time, I was a high school math teacher. Weird transition, I know, but I loved reading your perspective on teaching math in elementary school. It helped me know what to expect more when I moved to a K-6 school.)

courtney rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mister Teacher said...

Anonymous, I agree with you totally! The setting is a huge part of the appeal of a library, and for that matter, a book store! I love to go sit in a Borders or a B&N for hours and just read. In a library, you can sit at a table and pore over an encyclopedia or some other reference book.
Courtney, you're right, your job is VERY different than what I think of as a librarian's job. We do have a separate tech person at our school, and this always USED to be the computer class teacher as well. This year, it's a totally different person.
In case I wasn't very clear in my post, I am TOTALLY against the notion of cutting libraries and librarians from public school. I think they're part of the backbone of the educational system!

courtney rebecca said...

Oh I know you were in support of libraries! I was just adding my two cents with my perspective. ;)

Almost American said...

We have a district librarian who works at the middle/high school complex, but no librarians in the elementary schools. At least we have parent volunteers though who take care of checking books in and out and reshelving books, as well as arranging topical displays of books. One local elementary school in another district refused to allow parent volunteers after their librarian was laid off - their library was closed for, I think, 2 years until the school committee reinstated the position.

Melissa B. said...

As our district's aging schools get rennovated, the powers that be have taken to calling the libraries "media centers." Ugh.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the articles that came out 15 years ago, bemoaning the demise of the newspaper thanks to the internet. But newspapers are still around. Maybe not so much in a paper format, but the good ones changed with the times, went online, and made themselves relevant. I predict libraries (or media centers) will do the same. Kids should be able to check out ebooks, video games, stuff that they're interested in...that will keep them coming. And as another commenter pointed out, we still need the DTBs for historical reasons-- there's no way to scan them all!

-Mrs. SpEd

IMC Guy said...

I hope your librarian does more than just stuff with books. For me, that's only a small part of the job.

Anonymous said...

Librarians in my school district have been hit by the RIF. All campuses used to have an Asst. Librarian, but no longer.
My son loves the library at his school. The librarian there is always recommending and holding books for him personally on snakes, spiders and the occasional star wars.
I too use our public library weekly. I want the latest titles, and I'm good with reading it once. Also since I have a long commute the books on tape are a must.
The price of an ebook is as much as a paperback. And the cost of audiobooks is ridiculous. The books they offer for free are ancient and don't usually appeal to me.
The only book I've ever purchased electronically 9 times is Learn Me Good. Best book ever. The author is like a modern day Lemony Snicket, but without as many orphans.

Mister Teacher said...

Almost American, that sounds horrible! And it sounds like a total power-trip by that administrator. He/she would rather have a closed/useless library just sitting there than let parents come in and help run the place?
Melissa, ours has been a "media center" for about 4 years now... Just like I call my classroom the "Cave of Knowledge."
Mrs. SpED, you make a very valid point! Newspapers are still around!
Chad, our librarian really just maintains and operates the library. She is awesome, but I don't think her powers and/or duties extend beyond that.
Oh, and that last "anonymous" comment HAS to have been written by my brother. Phineus, step forward and identify yourself!!