Do School Children Really Need Librarians?

Yes and no, according to your perspective.

City Limits, a NYC blog reports that earlier this summer, the Department of Education requested a variance from the state, asking official permission to offer fewer librarians in schools. While the DOE says it recognizes librarians' value, in the face of fiscal challenges and technological changes the department is looking for alternative ways to provide students with library services. In place of hiring certified librarians, schools could train teachers to offer the same services, bring in parent volunteers or have librarians circulate between schools.

Meanwhile, elementary schools are exempt from the regulation altogether. Some elementary school libraries are staffed by teachers or librarians without certification. Some even go without.

And from the librarians' POV: "The idea that a shelf full of a books somehow replaces a librarian is wrong," says Christian Zabriskie, Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite, a professional group that supports librarianship in urban settings. "If I'm exploring things about, say, my sexuality, drug issues, health issues, I can't grab those books in front of my peers," he adds. Zabriskie's own middle school librarian had a significant impact on his life by supporting him when he was being bullied and teaching him how to stand up for others.

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