Education Letter to the Editor

Where Are the School Librarians?

July 17, 2018 1 min read

To the Editor:

Although there may have seemed to be a drop in the number of library media specialists (sometimes also referred to as school librarians), they have not been merely fired (“Number of Librarians Plummets in Schools, Data Find,” May 30, 2018). Some have had their duties changed unofficially.

After the Great Recession of 2008, school librarian jobs were scarce. As a library media specialist in Maryland, I found that only one librarian was allocated for every two schools. School librarians still worked full-time, but they were required to split their time between two schools. This meant not only trying to update libraries that had been closed since 2008, but also trying to meet the social-emotional demands of students who were being bullied.

As a library media specialist, I had to develop various programs that would not only help to update and organize the library but also supplement the students’ daily lessons. I reached out to authors who donated books, invited guest speakers, gained sponsorships, obtained equipment, and applied for a grant that awarded the library $2,000 worth of milkweed flats for a butterfly garden.

This job was not without additional challenges: I would often be asked to cover a teacher as a spur-of-the-moment substitute, supplementing the teacher’s lessons with library and media-themed topics. My irregular schedule, split between two schools, also impeded students’ comprehension of library lessons and programming. And, finally, special school events, standard testing, and other schedule changes often interfered with my normal meeting times with students.

The library media specialist or school librarian job position has been updated to fit the needs of the individual school. The school librarians are not gone.

Lorette S. J. Weldon

Independent Library Media Specialist

College Park, Md.

A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2018 edition of Education Week as Where Are the School Librarians?