By Erin Wilkey Oh, Common Sense MediaMay 09, 2019
It's National Library Week, and we couldn't resist paying homage to one of the most important members of the school community: librarians. Also known as library media specialists, librarians play a unique role in our schools. Often asked to take on a wide range of duties, these passionate and savvy educators deserve more than only a week of praise. And in case you need a reminder of all that librarians do for our students and our schools, we've put together a list—but it's only a start.
In many schools, the library media specialist is the go-to expert on all things tech. Don't know how to use that new projector? Looking for a great app for annotating texts? Can't figure out your new phone? Ask the librarian!
In the age of fake news and viral video remixes, the library media specialist leads the charge on citation, copyright and fair use, research, and news literacy.
If you think the library is a quiet place meant only for research and studying, you clearly haven't been in a school library with a makerspace. These high-tech learning centers give kids a place to develop critical media-literacy and media-creation skills.
With more freedom for experimentation and creativity than most classroom teachers, library media specialists incubate the classrooms of the future. School districts may move at a glacial pace, but just step into a school library to see what's on the horizon.
In a library, kids can stay connected to the past. Whether they're exploring books in the stacks or scrolling through pages of microfiche, kids learn about themselves and their communities by exploring history.
Sure, it may be a stereotype, but c'mon—you know it's kind of true: After the art teachers, the librarians are the ones with the most unique styles, personalities, and interests. And because of this, all kinds of kids feel comfortable with the school librarian.
No matter a student's skills or interests, the library welcomes everyone. It's a safe space to hang out with friends after school or a quiet place to be alone and research sensitive topics.
In a standards-driven world, librarians capture all those interest-based skills that kids need to be successful today and in the future. Kids go to the library to learn to code, write blogs, edit videos, and much more.
Do you remember how it felt when you discovered you could borrow any book on any topic from the library for free? Libraries give kids tangible evidence of the benefits of living in a democracy.
School libraries aren't just for the students anymore. Kids and their families can go to the library for access to resources they don't have at home, like the internet or translation services.