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Librarians are vital to schools

Posted 6/3/14

 

Editor,

 

I apologize that I have been asleep at the wheel. While I have known that the situation regarding a certified librarian at Middletown Area High School has been an issue for several years, I naively assumed that this …

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Librarians are vital to schools

Posted

Editor,

 

I apologize that I have been asleep at the wheel. While I have known that the situation regarding a certified librarian at Middletown Area High School has been an issue for several years, I naively assumed that this void would be corrected in due time.

 

Last week I learned that there will be neither a Middletown Area High School nor Middletown Area Middle School certified librarian. This is both outrageous and shameful.

 

To assume that because students are able to meet their library needs on their own through the Internet is painfully ludicrous. Simply put, the Internet is fraught with misinformation.

 

On the contrary, there are a plethora of research studies that independently come to similar conclusions:

 

• “The more often students receive instruction in information literacy from their librarians, the higher their test scores in reading and writing.'' (Mary K. Biagini, University of Pittsburgh, 2012)

 

• “Reading and writing scores are better for students who have a full-time certified librarian than those who don’t.'' (Debra E. Kachel and Keith Curry Lance, School Library Journal, March 7, 2013)

 

• “Students who are economically disadvantaged, black Hispanic and those with IEPs [Individualized Education Programs] benefit proportionately more than students generally. Students who are poor, minority, and have IEPs, but who have full-time librarians are twice as likely to have Advanced writing scores as their counterparts without full-time librarians.'' (Kachel and Lance, School Library Journal, March 7, 2013).

 

In other words, not having a certified librarian relegates Middletown students to a second-class education.

 

The Middletown administration in one fell swoop has dumbed-down the education of your hard-working students.

 

Having excellent teachers is the start of a good education. But it takes a certified librarian to assist those teachers and students to gain more than what I call a Wal-Mart education: That is, one that enables individuals sufficient skills to be consumers at Wal-Mart and nothing more – no critical thinking skills, no real skills toward gaining a 21st century job.

 

Students who do well will be those who excel in spite of the Middletown schools, not because of the Middletown schools.

 

To cry woe because the Middletown Area School District has a high rate of students with free and reduced lunches is without substance, because I can quickly point to exemplary school library programs, such as:

 

• The Hillsborough County Public Schools of Florida, with 56.8 percent of students receiving free and reduced lunches;

 

• The Wilson County Schools of North Carolina with 64.4 percent of students receiving free and reduced lunches;

 

• The Rutherford County Schools of North Carolina with a whopping 70.6 percent of students receiving free and reduced lunches (Wolf, Jones and Gilbert, 2014, 20).

 

These districts prove that having exemplary library programs is not so much a decision of economics as it is a decision of priority.

 

There is time for the Middletown administration to redeem themselves. They have the whole summer to go back to the drawing board and hire a high school librarian and reinstate the middle school librarian, and make cuts, if cuts must be made, elsewhere.

 

Unfortunately, some administrators in the Middletown Area School District do not get it. They believe that just because there is a physical library that all is well. They ignore the fact that all those research studies are about librarians, not libraries.

 

Being a cynic, I believe there would be more indignation over the firing of a coach than over the vacating of a certified librarian!

 

But if I’m wrong and you, too, are infuriated by elimination of certified librarians in the high school and middle school, then I urge you to contact the Middletown Area School District administration and members of the Middletown Area School Board.

 

Tell these leaders that this cannot happen, not in Middletown.

                                    Richard Ammon

                                            Middletown