Why Are School Librarians Important?
School librarians are matchmakers. They are experts at matching students with just the right books and teachers with just the right resources, print or digital. But that is just the beginning of their expertise. We at Capstone are proud to support school librarians in their vital work by developing books and digital tools that help them promote in their students a lifelong love of learning and the critical thinking skills to become savvy digital citizens and consumers of information. We join our voice with theirs, advocating for equity and access for every student in every school.
Does Advocacy for School Librarians Lead to Advocacy for Student Achievement?
The short answer is YES! Research repeatedly shows that students who are exposed to quality school library programs staffed by certified school librarians achieve better educational outcomes. In fact, 34 statewide studies confirm links between strong school libraries and student achievement. These studies consistently provided findings that "a positive relationship between full-time, qualified school librarians and scores on standards-based language arts, reading, and writing tests, regardless of student demographics and school characteristics". Having a qualified full-time school librarian that provides reading incentive programs, as well as, planning collaboratively with classroom teachers, has a beneficial effect on text scores, higher writing and reading performance, and help create not only more confident readers, but also helps students become more independent readers.
When students are able to self-select what to read next, their reading performance excels. School librarians aid in this by helping students find the right books and encouraging reading for fun. A study found that 30% of students ages 12-14 and 19% of those ages 14-16 say that school librarians are among those who give them the best ideas about books to read for fun. Student reading for fun, leads to independent readers, which leads to student academic success!
Capstone is proud to help advocate for strong school library programs in every school. You can add your voice to this important work and support school librarians by sharing or downloading The Power of the School Librarian video or infographic!
How Can School Libraries Work for ALL Students?
School libraries offer students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds the books they need to activate their imaginations and satisfy their curiosity. Reading is for everyone and school librarians curate book collections that both reflect their communities and expose students to ideas and experiences beyond their own neighborhoods.
Sharing the Yasmin series by Saadia Faruqi with early readers helps Muslim children find themselves in a book, helps non-Muslim readers understand a little bit more about their friends’ lives, and provides a delightful reading experience for everyone. Reading Bao Phi's picture book, A Different Pond , helps students understand the immigrant experience and what it means to live in poverty. Exploring its evocative art encourages students to see how these experiences might affect a relationship between father and son. Diving into the fun of Emma Every Day, readers learn about kids who are both different and the same and through its #OwnVoices author, C.L. Reid, students also understand that people with disabilities have all kinds of careers.
Nonfiction books that represents different experiences and perspectives is just as important as fiction. Books like Mamie on the Mound by Leah Henderson and Unstoppable by Art Coulson allow students to be exposed to real people that are like them as the protagonist and a historical figure.
Equity extends to digital resources as well. Librarians advocate for 508 and WCAG compliant websites and technology tools like PebbleGo and PebbleGo Next to remove barriers for students with disabilities who use adaptive technologies. They seek out eBooks like those from Capstone that scaffold text with engaging audio to make content more accessible for a variety of learners—beginning readers, struggling readers, multi-language learners, and more.
Representation matters, especially when it comes to instilling a joy of reading. When children see themselves reflected in the stories they read, they see that they too, can be the heroes or the adventurers.
How School Librarians Help with Digital Citizenship and Information Literacy
Author Neil Gaiman famously said, “Google can bring you back, you know, a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” But more importantly, librarians teach students how to discover and discern credible information for themselves.
According to a Pew Research report, more than one third of children under five interact with smart phones and a staggering 81% of 4-5 years olds are consumers of content on YouTube alone. Our kids are digital citizens and consumers of information before they start kindergarten, but they don’t have the tools to make heads or tails of all the messaging coming their way. School librarians step up to the plate immediately in Kindergarten using resources like PebbleGo to help kids begin to understand how to find facts online and what makes online information credible. They also take charge of helping students learn the skills and habits that will keep them safe online.
School librarians help students continue to build these skills throughout their entire K-12 education with the goal of graduating critical thinkers who are savvy consumers of information—essential skills for modern workplaces and participating in civic life. Anyone who thinks school libraries are quiet places full of dusty books simply hasn’t been in one for too long.
The Library is the Largest Classroom in the School
The school library has long been unconstrained by physical space. The role of the school librarian requires someone skilled in literacy, curriculum, instruction, and technology. Librarians collaborate with teachers to enhance instruction with additional resources, extend learning beyond the classroom with research, and promote the safe and effective use of technology.
The Covid-19 pandemic puts the importance of effective school library programs front and center. With the necessity of distance or remote learning in many communities, school librarians provide leadership in the most effective ways to integrate technology and instruction and find resources and content that help keep classroom teachers teaching and kids learning. For concrete examples of how librarians extend their practice during this time, explore the New York City School Library System Translation of Practice for School Librarians document.
Capstone is Here to Help
We put our heart into developing resources kids want to read and that help make the school library a place of discovery, imagination, and learning. We know the importance a strong school library program has in boosting student achievement and success. School librarians are an integral part in the learning happening in their schools and we’re here to help and support them.