School librarians fight for future

Contact: Larra Clark


For Immediate Release

November 7, 2003

School librarians fight for future

National organization launches recruitment Web site; IMLS announces recruitment grants

(CHICAGO) Leaving the 11
th National Conference of the American Association of School Librarians in Kansas City last week, one question was on many minds: “How can we ensure our children and grandchildren have librarians in their schools?”

Ten states report “extremely severe shortages” of school library media specialists.
Another 30, including Kansas and Missouri, report severe shortages, which is more than double the number of states compared to two years ago.
More emergency licenses are being issued to keep school library media centers staffed, even at a skeletal level.
And this trend can only be expected to get worse as more than 60 percent of school library media specialists reach retirement age in the next decade.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the library profession – and the educators, parents and administrators that care about libraries’ role in learning – must take action now to ensure our ability to serve students in coming years,” said AASL President Frances R. Roscello.

Research conducted in 12 states shows a direct link between good school libraries and student achievement. These studies found that students at schools with well-staffed and well-funded libraries consistently score from 10 to 18 percent higher on reading and other tests.

Today's school library media specialist works with both students and teachers to facilitate access to information in a wide variety of formats, instruct students and teachers how to acquire, evaluate and use information and the technology needed in this process, and introduces children and young adults to literature and other resources to broaden their horizons.

The good news is that many states are stepping up to meet the need by expediting the certification process; more distance education programs are attracting library applicants; the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced $10 million in grants to recruit librarians (; and AASL has launched a new Web site to share state-by-state information, recruitment tools and ideas and help finding jobs.

“You can never say being a school librarian is a piece-of-cake job – but I love it,” said Rich Connell, who has just started his second school year as a librarian at Oak Hill Elementary School in Overland Park, Kan., after 24 years working as a classroom teacher. “It’s a great change of pace. I get to use my teaching skills, and I have a great deal of impact on kids from kindergarten to fifth grade.”
Connell will receive his master’s in library and information science from Emporia State University (Kan.) in December.

In the last five to 10 years, use of instructional technology has become more important in our schools. I am constantly amazed at what my 6-8 year olds can do on a computer,” said

DeEtta Perkins of Lyons Elementary District (Ill.).
“There is still no more satisfying experience than seeing 25-30 student hanging on every word of a good story.”

At the conference, members of the AASL Recruitment to the Profession Committee presented on these issues and the results of a national survey completed last year.

For more information or to schedule interviews with local and/or national librarian spokespeople, please call Larra Clark at 312-280-5043.
The new AASL recruitment Web site can be found at