Responding to School Library Media Challenges

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are someone who cares about school libraries today, then you probably know something about the challenges they are likely to face. This lesson discusses responding to school library media challenges.

School Libraries Today

Selene has been a school librarian for more than fifteen years, and she has had the privilege of witnessing many changes. Some of these have been exciting, like increases in technology, more integration of the library into the overall school program, and more diverse genres and authors in children's literature.

However, Selene has also encountered many new challenges to her library media program in recent years. She knows that part of her job is responding to these challenges in thoughtful and sensible ways that will support the learning, growth and wellbeing of teachers and students in her school community.

Challenges Around Resources

Many of the challenges Selene and librarians across the country have to do with access to resources. School districts everywhere are finding ways to cut their budgets, and sometimes library programs suffer as a result. Selene has put some thought into the different challenges she faces related to resources, and how best to address these issues.

Human Resources

First of all, Selene sometimes feels strapped for access to human resources, or people who can work in the library. An ideal school library has at least one head librarian as well as a technology specialist and two or more paraprofessionals who can handle daily operations. Yet Selene's principal can only afford to keep her on payroll, and she knows that many districts have removed school librarians altogether.

To address the lack of human resources, Selene recruits parent volunteers to help in the library. She also teaches some of the older and more responsible students at her school to check out books and shelve books that younger students have returned.

Material Resources

Selene also thinks her library, like many others, suffers from a lack of material resources like books and print media. She tries to maintain an up to date collection, but this can be hard with a tight budget!

To compensate for this struggle, Selene focuses on purchasing a few key books from each major genre each year. She also asks for donations from community organizations and businesses, and she hosts a yearly book sale to earn money by selling off older books.

Selene also shares technology resources with her school's technology teachers and collaborates with classroom teachers as much as possible so that they can maximize their budgets together.

Challenges Around Intellectual Freedom

A separate set of challenges Selene struggles with has to do with the intellectual freedom of children, adolescents, and young adults.

Some families and community members have rigid ideas about what children should be reading and what sorts of texts and technologies they should have access to.

Selene confronts this challenge by incorporating her belief in intellectual freedom into her library's mission statement and core values. In other words, she is very clear that her library is an inclusive place where everyone belongs.

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