In Lean Times, Schools Squeeze Out Librarians

In Lean Times, Schools Squeeze Out Librarians

“The dilemma that schools will face is whether to cut a teacher who has been working with kids all day long in a classroom or cut teachers who are working in a support capacity, like librarians,” the city’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, said in an interview.

In New York, as in districts across the country, many school officials said they had little choice but to eliminate librarians, having already reduced administrative staff, frozen wages, shed extracurricular activities and trimmed spending on supplies. Technological advances are also changing some officials’ view of librarians: as more classrooms are equipped with laptops, tablets or e-readers, Mr. Polakow-Suransky noted, students can often do research from their desks that previously might have required a library visit.


I have to remark on two points made in this post. First, many if not all school librarians "work with kids all day long" just as classroom teachers do. Most school librarians, especially at the lower levels, have back to back to back sessions with children all day long comprised of read-a-louds, information literacy lessons, assistance with classes coming in for projects, and general work with children in finding books for pleasure or research. Most school librarians I know get less "planning" time than classroom teachers do; in addition, during times when classroom teachers are able to plan such as specials or lunch, school librarians still have their libraries open for students to come in and therefore are with these students during those times as well.

The second point I must address is that technological advances and an abundance of technology in the classroom or not, this does not make for quality research on the part of students who need the guidance of trained media specialists (aka school librarians). Left to their own devices or left with a classroom teacher who may or may not have the training in research, students may or may not be researching in a way that will produce quality results. The Internet and other electronic media has been a huge benefit for education, however, students need to be trained and guided when using these tools. They may know more about the tools themselves than the adults in the classroom, but media specialists entering the field today are trained specifically on the research conducted ON these tools. Many teachers are too, but it is no guarantee. There must be a collaboration between teachers and media specialists who specifically study this type of research for true integration of these technologies in education to occur.

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