#ShelfLove Challenge: Love Letter to My Library

Shelf Love Challenge 2016Each month, the #ShelfLove Challenge has a different topic. This month’s topic:

The 2nd Week of April is Library Week. Tell us about your local library and what makes is special to you.

I have to admit that I haven’t been able to visit the Worcester Public Library in a while. It is a beautiful library, but for a variety of reasons (mostly having to do with transportation, which is a problem I resolved when I bought a new car last month), I haven’t been to the library in a while, and indeed, my library card has expired, so I need to renew it.

However, because I am a teacher, I have access to a school library. When I first started working at Worcester Academy, I was a technology integration specialist, and I worked in the library. I tried to increase the size our young adult collection, and I worked to encourage young readers by recommending books and visiting classes to do book talks.

We have a new library director this year, and she has transformed parts of the upper floor into a maker space, including a LEGO wall and 3-D printers. One wall has been painted with whiteboard paint, as have several tables. The fiction collection has been “genrefied” so that students can more easily find books they like. I took my students to the library, and our new library director conducted a “book speed dating” experience for the students, who read a book for a few minutes and either decided to pass or to keep the book. It was fun for the students and a great way to have a taste of a new book. I wrote about it on my education blog in more detail. In addition to a large collection of books, my school library has many DVD’s I can use with my students to enhance their learning. Some are movie versions of texts we study, while others are documentaries or educational films.

The library is a gathering place for students, who are encouraged to collaborate. It’s warm, inviting atmosphere has turned it into a real hub on campus. I don’t actually work out of the library anymore now that I’m the English department chair, but I go there when I can to work because it’s one of the best places on campus to be. There is a special spot looking out over the small quad in front of the building that has a great view in the fall as the leaves are changing.

I definitely need to make better use of our public library now that I don’t have any constraints that make it a challenge, but I must admit my affection for the Mildred H. McEvoy Library at my school. Our librarians make it a great space for our students to learn and help our teachers as well.

A quick check-in on how I’m doing with the #ShelfLove Challenge—not much progress this month. April is indeed the cruelest month at school, at least for a person in my role as a department chair, because it involves selecting department awards, placement of students, course ballots, and scheduling (as well as the spring fever slump and senioritis). I elected to try to read between 11-20 books that were already on my shelves (either my physical shelves or my Kindle or Audible library) before January 1, 2016, and so far, of the twelve books I’ve read up to this point, five of them have been #ShelfLove books, which is one more since last month.

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays—May 16, 2011

Musing MondaysThis week’s musing asks…

The local Catholic school board is closing its school libraries, and parents and teachers—and even the students—are in an uproar. Budget cuts demanded that the board choose something to get rid of… they choose libraries. As such, many librarians have lost their jobs. And, the board is moving the books to the classrooms, instead. They feel that it is a good solution.

What do you think? Should the schools be without an actual “library” room? Is this a good solution?

I’m not sure where this school is located. No link to a news story in the post prompt. I think every school needs a library. So does every elementary school classroom, every middle school reading or language arts classroom (really, other subjects should, too), and every high school English classroom. Minimum. The library is more than just a room that houses books. It is a room that celebrates reading, books, media, and learning. It is a place for students to gather to study. It is a refuge for students like I was when I was young—a place to find new books, a place to hide, a place to think. I can’t imagine taking that away from students. Why so many people have decided we can do without libraries lately is beyond my comprehension. Even though I had moved away by the time it closed, I was saddened to learn the library I used to ride my bike to when I was a kid had closed. I wanted other children to be able to experience what I had experienced.

We also need our librarians. They stay current on good books and can help students find books to read. To push that role on overloaded teachers is not a solution. I can recommend books to my students. I read a lot. But no one can replace a librarian for expertise. How many kids have been turned on to their favorite book or even to reading in general because a librarian took an interest and made a recommendation? I loved spending time in my school library. When I was in fifth grade, I loved being chosen to be the office worker because I could finish all my school work by 11:00 and read for the rest of the day. The office staff let me go to the library to pick out books. I vividly remember asking a librarian to help me find an author’s address so I could write to him, telling him how I loved his book. She was more crushed than I was to discovered he had already passed away.

It doesn’t sound like the stakeholders—the students, parents, or teachers—want this. Surely there is a better way to save money than to remove librarians and a central library from a school.