Love Your Librarian!
By Andrea Moreau
True or False: Librarians have the easiest job in the school.
While most may think a school librarian’s day is simply filled with reading to children and checking out books, that’s only a tiny part of the job.
Not many parents know what their school’s librarian really does, or is qualified to do. Actually, no two librarians’ days look the same, but they’re both filled with responsibilities and duties.
Most schools have a library of some sort. It may be huge. It might be a lovely place, with lots of fun sitting areas, attractive book displays, and cute signs pointing the way to “mysteries,” “graphic novels” and “biographies.”
Or, it may be much smaller, and cozier, yet still warm and welcoming. It might offer a wealth of reading treasures to explore.
Usually one person runs these rooms of books. He or she may be called a “library teacher,” “media specialist,” or the more familiar, “librarian.” A librarian’s job, however, involves so much more than reading to kids and decorating. I happen to know this because I am one.
In order to be a school librarian, one must also be a teacher, at least to be hired in the public schools in Mississippi. I became a teacher first, obtaining my four-year degree in education and teaching for a few years. Then, I began work on a master’s degree in library and information science. During this advanced work, I was able to add the library media specialist certificate to my teaching license in order to become a school librarian.
Some school librarians go on to get advanced degrees or certifications, such as the rigorous National Board certification, which I also obtained. At last count, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards website directory, there are currently 101 school librarians in Mississippi who have earned this prestigious certification.
Because of this training, school librarians are extremely knowledgeable and well-qualified in guiding your children to the perfect books, and hopefully, to a lifelong love of reading. They also help teach ways to navigate through today’s ocean of digital information.
Generally, school librarians are guided by standards of the American Association of School Librarians. This framework of standards guides them as literacy leaders in providing student access to a wealth of digital and print sources. They can then help kids connect and engage with that information, whether it’s in the form of books, magazine articles or web pages. Additionally, school librarians are evaluated by school principals in the same way teachers are assessed.
A librarian can be a trusted resource for you and your child. I loved when a parent would call me or email, asking for help with their child specifically. A parent might have needed assistance in finding books on a topic the child was interested in, but was too shy to ask me about. Or, I might have been asked for help in finding books written on a child’s exact reading level. Or, a parent might contact me to say there had been a death in the family, and a suggestion was needed for a book that might help in dealing with grief.
In an elementary school with as many students as I had, I appreciated this connection with parents. At my school in Hancock County, I typically had six classes of almost 30 students…five-days-a-week!
Why not connect with your child’s librarian and get to know him or her? If you have the time, consider volunteering in the library or during book fair. I’m sure your librarian would love the help, and you would get to see firsthand what a difference he or she makes in your child’s education.