CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) and American Association of School Librarians (AASL) are assisting local efforts in Houston to maintain and expand school librarian positions, as a current proposal mandating a certified school librarian in every school in the Houston Independent School District is currently under scrutiny. ALA and AASL came out in support of this proposal in an op-ed published in the Houston Chronicle on March 4.
Penned by ALA President Sari Feldman and AASL President Leslie Preddy, the op-ed reminds school district administrators of the critical importance of certified school librarians as educators, teaching students essential literacy and research skills, and preparing them for higher education and the workplace. Feldman and Preddy state that “the reduction of school library budgets and staff are not the answer; rather, such moves will have a negative impact on the academic achievement of students and, in the longer term, on their preparedness to succeed in a global society and contribute to the future economic health of Houston.”
The op-ed makes mention of the role that certified school librarians play in the digital age, and the increased responsibility needed to ensure that students can conduct proper research: “With the increase of school-based and personal technology devices, some administrators and policy-makers believe that search engines, Wikipedia and social media are adequate substitutions for the research expertise and guidance of a school librarian. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Preddy and Feldman reiterate the fact that certified school librarians are crucial to the school environment as a whole, working in conjunction with teaching staff: “The fact is that school libraries serve as a pillar to their school communities: the newly reauthorized federal education statute, The Every Student Succeeds Act, includes provisions that specifically support school library programs, school librarians and the role they play in academic achievement, literacy, digital citizenship. School librarians are also essential partners to classroom teachers, bringing essential resources, technology and literacy tools to the curriculum.”
A decision on the proposal is pending.
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 58,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.