School Libraries are Essential to the 'Library Ecosystem'

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

In April, the American Library Association and the nation celebrated School Library Month. Libraries of all types work together as part of a library ecosystem to deliver learning opportunities for people of all ages. However, a threat to one part of the system stresses the entire system.

At this moment, we are facing a serious threat to school libraries.

Unfortunately, school library reductions are currently taking place in school districts in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and several other states.

Inadequate funding for school libraries can result in K-12 students' not learning the essential skills to pursue their own investigations, critically evaluate digital and print information sources, gather evidence, and develop their own understandings. As a result, they are unprepared to handle the academic challenges of higher education.

The demise of K-12 libraries means that most first-year college students are entirely new to library research and have a limited understanding of what the research process entails and how librarians can assist them. Academic librarians and teaching faculty must devote extra time to teaching students the cognitive skills needed for scholarly inquiry.

School library closures have negative consequences for other parts of the library ecosystem as well. Closures result in pressure on the local public libraries to absorb the traffic. While public libraries already offer many programs for children and teens, there's no doubt that an uptick in demand will have a strong negative impact on youths in our communities who are better served by the free resources and staff of school and public libraries.

To have a healthy, functioning society, the entire library ecosystem must be sustained with the level of financial investment necessary to support the learning needs of everyone in the community.

Barbara Stripling
American Library Association
Chicago, Ill.

Vol. 33, Issue 30, Page 35

Published in Print: May 7, 2014, as School Libraries are Essential to the 'Library Ecosystem'
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories