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Mondays with Mike - Why School Libraries Are Important

August 10, 2020

As a parent, former teacher, and education industry professional, I have seen the inside and outsides of the education business from both the K-12 and HED perspectives. I serve at the pleasure of the people of my small village in Northwest Illinois on the Library Board of Trustees, so I see the issues of taxation and the balancing that we as public servants must do to make sure that every single dollar is spent wisely and effectively. And as a small business person, I understand the toll the pandemic has taken on our business community and on parents trying to balance work and home life.

Recently, Education Week posted an article As COVID-19 Budget Cuts Loom, Relevance of School Librarians Put to the Test July 1, 2020, discussing how school librarians were being cut due to looming budget cuts in districts across the country. Teacher Librarians across the country stepped up throughout the Spring to provide students with additional services much like teachers did in every school district: giving book recommendations, organizing poetry readings, brokering book access for students, guiding teachers through a complicated web of free online resources, providing tech-support, and helping students navigate a deluge of online news and misinformation.

As schools start again for this Fall with back-to-school remote and blended learning options, once again, Teacher Librarians will be needed to provide these much needed services.

In many places, the school librarian, like the public librarian, is keeping the lights on at the school 24/7 with access to those digital databases that your district may have access to, and much like the school Principal, he or she most likely is the only person in your school who truly has a building-wide perspective.

In their 2016 book Most Likely to Succeed, Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner outline the skills that students—and educators—will continue to need as they progress forward in their personal, civic, and professional lives. Many have deemed these “21st-century skills.” Dintersmith and Wagner’s proposed skills include:

· Critical thinking and problem-solving

· Collaboration across networks

· Agility and adaptability

· Initiative and entrepreneurship

· Effective oral, written, and multimedia communication

· Accessing and analyzing information

· Curiosity and imagination

School librarians are the resident experts in the development of these skills. Accessing and analyzing information, collaborating across networks, cultivating curiosity and imagination—this is the life blood of an outstanding school library. More importantly, these are the skills that will allow our children to become thoughtful and engaged citizens equipped to navigate a world full of increasingly complex information

Whether you are an Edtech Entrepreneur, School Principal, Teacher, or Parent, each of us should be advocating for our Teacher Librarians in our schools. You can unlock the power of your library to drive a culture of deep learning in your schools and always remember, school is not preparation for real life, school is real life. At least, it should be—and your school librarians can help with that.

The team at Advancing Global EDU is always happy to provide strategic consulting and review for your educational business. Contact us and discuss how we can help with strategy, sales, or marketing.

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