Many states and school districts have adopted the Common Core State Standards. (Unfamiliar with the standards? A three-minute video can give you the big idea.) These standards were developed and adopted because of wide-spread awareness that many high school graduates do not have the skills they need to be successful in college and careers. The standards emphasize the importance of reading comprehension and of finding information and using it effectively.
School library programs led by certified school librarians are essential components of an education that helps students learn and grow to meet the Common Core State Standards, as well as the American Association of School Librarians’ standards for 21st-century learners. For a very detailed look at the school librarian’s role in implementation of the Common Core State Standards, go here.
School libraries can be gateways to important information about colleges and careers. For example, school librarians know about resources (like those available here) to help students assess their own interests and find careers that match those interests. Well-equipped school libraries enable all students to explore those resources—even students who have no access to the Internet at home.
The primary problem is money. Since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, many districts have fewer tax dollars to spend. Cuts must be made. Unfortunately, in some districts, school libraries are seen as a “frill”—nice to have, but not essential to student learning. Some decision makers view the Internet and Worldwide Web or public libraries as replacements for school library programs guided by a certified school librarian in every school. The Internet and Web are not replacements for school libraries.
Despite their important contributions to student success, school libraries and school library programs throughout the United States are in danger. As a result, many students aren’t developing all the skills they’ll need for success in college and their careers.
- Across the country, testing pressures and budget decisions have led to decisions to eliminate school libraries and school librarians. Yet, school libraries and school librarians are among the most effective and efficient resources to boost student academic achievement.
- School libraries that are adequately funded deliver incredible value by increasing student achievement.
- Volunteers cannot replace a certified school librarian. Volunteers play a valuable role in helping students and schools, but do not bring the teaching and research expertise of a certified school librarian.