Recently, I was having a discussion with my brother, a sixth-grade social studies teacher. He mentioned that his school’s library media specialist left, and his principal wasn’t planning on replacing her. This principal believes that the position is unnecessary. I cringed when I heard this. It is baffling to me that some educators, including administrators, don’t understand the value we bring to a school. With that in mind, I put together a list of the most important aspects of our jobs. Feel free to share this with the naysayers who don’t appreciate how crucial we are to our schools.
Today’s students are growing up in a digital world, and many have been using technology since before they’ve entered kindergarten. Library media specialists teach children to use this technology in a safe and effective way. They focus on topics such as Internet safety, cyber-bullying, responsible and ethical use of information, and privacy issues. This is necessary to keep students safe while utilizing technology.
Library media specialists collaborate with classroom teachers to help supplement and extend the curriculum. They teach students how to conduct research and also how to assess the validity and reliability of the information they find. In the media center, students can take what they’ve learned and present it in meaningful ways, via many different technology applications. This is a skill that is necessary for students to become successful members of 21st-century society.
Library media specialists help students develop a love of reading. They give students access to books across all genres and subjects. By sharing diverse books with students, library media specialists can help children develop empathy and find comfort in their own lives. Many students do not have this opportunity outside of their school library.
In addition, library media specialists give students the opportunity to collaborate with each other and improve their critical thinking skills. In a Makerspace, for example, students have the chance to explore, create, build, and discover. Interacting with their peers in this way can help them become better problem solvers.
As you can see, library media specialists foster some of the most authentic learning in schools today. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Newbery Medal winner Matt de la Peña, who sums up our role in a powerful way.
Author: Jenna Grodzicki
I have been in education for the past 15 years. Currently, I am the K-5 Library Media Specialist at Thalberg Elementary School in Southington, Connecticut. Prior to that, I taught kindergarten, first grade, and third grade. I am also a picture book author. My first book, PIXIE’S ADVENTURE, is coming out in early 2017 from eTreasures Publishing. More than anything, I LOVE to read! I also love skiing and cheering for the best team in baseball, the Boston Red Sox!