The Uncertain Fate of School Librarians

Stuck in the muck of hard economic times, states and local public school administrators across the country are trying to cautiously deflate the financial deficit balloon before it bursts. Consequently, many are forced to consider their expenditures, including the role of the school media specialist. Study.com's Education Insider takes a look at the uncertain fate of school librarians.

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By Erin Tigro

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School Librarian Staffing Requirements

When it comes to school librarians, many regions do not have minimum staff requirements per primary or secondary school levels. Some exceptions include Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas and New York. And for budgetary reasons, those areas that are required by law to maintain a specific number of certified librarians on staff may not be able to. Incidentally, according to the American Association of School Librarians, the organization lost 2,000 of its members from 2006-2011.

Role of the School Librarian

Today's school librarian is cutting edge. These individuals have moved beyond simply checking out your books, guiding you through the antiquated card catalog and directing you to the appropriate section of the library. School librarians of the 21st century can navigate through various information databases and find websites that can be used for instructional purposes. In 2010, Project Tomorrow, a California-based non-profit education organization, conducted a survey of 2,125 school librarians. The organization found that about half of the individuals polled were responsible for supporting classroom teachings by collecting pertinent digital files and content as well as developing collections of learning resources. School librarians also train teachers and students in the use of such contemporary media forms as:

  • Blogs
  • SMART Boards
  • Online chat forums
  • Videos
  • Audio files

Types of Changes Underway

In regions that have had to think long and hard about the school librarian position, other options have been considered and some have even been implemented. They've included:

  • Part-time school librarians
  • Teacher fill-ins
  • Parent volunteers
  • Shared school libraries
  • Public library partnerships

It is sad to see how this arguably pivotal position has fallen to the wayside. It is even more disheartening to think that future students may not have access to this kind of mentor and that the term school librarian might one day become oxymoronic.

Continue reading for information about how budget cuts are affecting public libraries.

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