Frequently Asked Questions about Libraries and Librarians

  • 1. Google seems to have everything I need. How can a school librarian help me?

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    School librarians can support students in the ethical use of information as well as share strategies for accessing, evaluating, and synthesizing information resources for use in their work. We can help students navigate the sometimes overwhelming—and not always accurate—mount of information available through Google, online databases, e-books, and the Internet. We can also help students find information available in the library from periodicals, DVDs, books, and other materials. School librarians can help narrow down the six million hits that may come up on a Google search.

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  • 2. Couldn't we save lots of money if we use volunteers in the library instead of a school librarian?

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    Our school library is the “hub” of the school, where students can find a certified school librarian who is an expert at facilitating student use of information. Volunteers can help children find books using the online catalog, but a school librarian can assist students with finding information in many different formats and places. Librarians are very familiar with all of the materials available in the library, as well as learning standards and the school’s curriculum, and can help students make real world connections for using independent learning skills in their own life. However, volunteer assistance is appreciated and welcomed for special events and on advisory groups.

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  • 3. How do students really use the library? Don’t they really go just to hang out?

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    Our students use the school library in a wide variety of ways! It is busy all day with students checking out books for independent reading, classes doing research and collaborative projects, students playing games like chess and Scrabble during lunch, reading on an e-reader, recording podcasts, socializing, or asking questions. Our school library website can be accessed 24–7 and includes lots of information for students to use independently. The library is a safe place where students learn, explore, and connect with others. I invite you to come in and check us out!

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  • 4. How rewarding is a career as a school librarian?

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    A very multifaceted position, a career as a school librarian is the most rewarding and enriching career in the education field! As school librarians we are able to share in the growth of every student in the building as students learn information-literacy and problem-solving skills. We also work on several different levels with other teachers, both in professional development settings and collaborative classroom situations. We have built relationships with students who have rediscovered their lost love of reading because we have spent time finding the perfect books for them. When a
    student runs into the library, clutching a book, grinning from ear to ear, saying “Thank you, thank you! I haven’t read a book this good since third grade!” we know we have encouraged one more lifelong reader.

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  • 5. Can you explain why we should fund the library budget?

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    Many studies indicate a strong correlation between strong, well-funded school library programs and increased student achievement. These libraries are composed of more than just books. Funds are needed to find and make accessible the best resources in all kinds of media that relate to the school and district curriculum and meet national and state standards.

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  • 6. More information is available online now. Couldn’t we budget fewer dollars for the library?

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    Without a decent budget we cannot provide the quality or quantity of resources that our students and teaching staff deserve access to both on and off campus. “The school library is the school’s physical and virtual learning commons where inquiry, thinking, imagination, discovery, and creativity are central to students’ information-to-knowledge journey, and to their personal, social and cultural growth” (Todd 2009). Learning does not end with the school day, and neither should access to quality school library resources and services. Students are always exploring and engaging with new information, and not always with good information resources. In addition to curating quality resources for the library, the school librarian teaches learners how to learn so that they can navigate and evaluate information inside and outside of school.

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  • 7. Explain information literacy to me, please.

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    Information literacy includes multiple literacies: digital, visual, textual, and technological. These skills are crucial for all learners in the 21st century (AASL 2007). It means knowing how to find, evaluate, and use information from a variety of sources. It means knowing when a book may be more helpful than a website. It means knowing what questions to ask. Is the information complete? Accurate? Is someone trying to sell something? Good decisions depend on good information. School librarians know that the best source of information isn’t always Google. They teach the newest research skills that students will use to become lifelong learners.

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  • 8. Since the Internet has millions of resources, can’t we buy fewer books?

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    Our school library program strives to create an environment where independent reading is valued, promoted, and encouraged (AASL 2007). The best resources are not always available online. Students need to be able to read and research high quality resources that meet district curriculum goals and state learning standards. “Shouldn’t schools be the place where students interact with interesting books? Shouldn’t the faculty have an ongoing laser-like commitment to put good books in our students’ hands? Shouldn’t this be a front-burner issue at all times?” (Gallagher 2009)

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  • 10. My kids love to read! Would they make good school librarians?

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    Not only do school librarians have to have a love of reading, they must possess a multitude of other traits. First and foremost, a school librarian is a teacher who is a leader in the school community. School librarians are information specialists, quick thinkers, planners, technologists, and flexible resourceful collaborators. If your child is a motivated self-starter who is organized, a “people person,” and has a love of reading, I’d say, yes, that child could become a great school librarian!

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  • These questions were created by the Toolkit for School Library Programs Revision Task Force, 2012–2013, and can be found in the Toolkit for Promoting School Libraries by the American Association for School Libraries.
     
    Works Cited  

    American Association of School Librarians. n.d. “Learning4Life Message Box.”

    --------------------. 2007. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner.

    Gallagher, Kelly. 2009. Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

    New York State Library. 2011. Informational Brief: Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement. New York Comprehensive Center.

    Todd, Ross J. 2009. “There is Knowledge to Be Gained.” School Library Media Activities Monthly 25 (10): 55–58.