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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Students Don't Want to Lose Their School Libraries

In December, I posted some letters that students wrote telling BESE what they thought about the revisions to Bulletin 741 that would allow school administrators to eliminate school libraries. BESE is planning to talk about this issue at their next meeting. Some of the teachers decided to give an assignment that would combine preparation for standardized testing and writing a letter to BESE. The students were given a writing prompt to write a persuasive letter explaining why they want to keep their school libraries opened with a certified librarian at the helm. All of the students wrote a letter. Some even chose to take the other side. They thought is would be easier to argue even if they did not agree with it. I am going to mail some of the best letters to BESE, but I wanted to share a couple with you. These students were really thoughtful with their responses, and believe that the school librarian and library offer them a better education. 


April 2, 2013
Dear BESE Members:
A librarian’s job is to encourage students and expand their learning. Libraries are a place where students can come and learn of their own free will and explore independently. Libraries provide a place for students to read and relax on school and are an encouraging environment for them. Although they may be costly, libraries are an invaluable trove of information and they are a safe haven for students. Librarians are specialized teachers that are there to help students stay updated with the real world and technological advancements.

Many say that librarians are not necessary because teachers could teach the same material in the classroom, and they would not have to be paid extra. Although some teachers are able to show students sources and programs that librarians show, many are either not informed about these or they do not have time in their lesson plan. Librarians are usually always on hand to help students, whether it be finding a source for a project or figuring out how to use a new program. Our librarian is frequently showing us new databases, how to use a new piece of technology or how to use a new application that will make studying easier. Our librarian helps us keep up to date with the latest technology that we otherwise would not have known about.

Librarians not only teach the students new things, they also teach the teachers. Librarians are available to cooperate with teachers and provide help on topics. Our school librarian frequently cooperates with the teachers so that she can show them new programs and applications that will be useful in the classroom and provide a stimulant for learning. By presenting information learned while researching for a project in new way students will be more interested than making a classic poster board or PowerPoint presentation.

Libraries provide new opportunities for students to expand their knowledge. Libraries are full of informational books that students use for projects, essays, or just because they are interested and want to know more about a topic.  By encouraging students to read librarians encourage them to learn and embrace new things and seek knowledge on their own. A librarian will also encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities that improve their academic status and confidence. Our school has received many awards from poetry contests, writing contests, and other extra curriculum that students have been encouraged to participate in by our librarian.

Libraries are also a place for students to come and relax on school campus. In a quiet environment students can pick up a fiction book and be transported into a whole new world of magic, dragons,  and noble knights off to save a princess. Although many argue that fiction books are “time wasters” and not useful at all, fiction provides a stress reliever for many students. Without libraries many students from lower income families would not have access to these books and materials. Fiction books provide a healthy way for students to have fun in school and outside of school too. Instead of going home and playing video games, students will be excited to open their books and find out the fate of the hero in the next chapter. By providing books we provide a way for students to enjoy themselves productively.

Although money is very tight in many school systems and space is an issue, without libraries students will be lacking valuable knowledge and experiences that will be useful later in life. Libraries are a fun and healthy place for students to grow intellectually and are a stress reliever for students. By keeping libraries in school we keep opportunities for teachers and students to try new things and stay up to date with the modern world. In my opinion, libraries pay for themselves in the expanse of students’ and teachers’ learning.

­­­­Sincerely,
Grayce Mores
7th Grade Student
Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy
______________________________________________________________________________

April 2, 2013
Dear members of BESE:
Many a time I have found myself at the school library’s doors, going through to the treasure chest of books nesting themselves in each overcrowded shelf. Our librarian, Ms. Kahn, is a kind, exuberant woman with a wide array of knowledge concerning both technology and books. I don’t know what we would do without her- she is always introducing us to new technology for the classrooms and homework. Librarians like her, helpful and tech-savvy, are why I am against Bulletin 741.

For one, they offer great technology training to both students and teachers. While teachers may know their way around a computer, they are not specially trained like librarians are. I often find myself bored, halfway to dozing off, as my teachers struggles with the computer- whether it be the projector, computer error, or human mistake, something always seems to go wrong. This is why we need librarians- they help with our mistakes, especially when teachers can’t. Librarians are available all the school day, unlike teachers, who have classes. Librarians can solve problems when our teachers are busy or don’t know how to solve said problems. They don’t only solve problems- librarians also integrate new, and old, technology into our everyday lives. They implement new tools into the classroom and help teachers learn how to use the new technology.

Being a librarian isn’t all about technology; it is also about reading- that’s what libraries are for! Librarians encourage us to read with a wide array of books and knowledge about literature. They can help us find books we’re interested, leading us to the worlds we get entranced in and swept up by. With the selection of books offered and the help of a genre-savvy librarian, students get more exposure to books they will enjoy. The library offers a great place to enjoy, read, and devour these books- it is a quiet place where anyone and everyone is welcome. The library is a haven away from loud, obnoxious students and instead a quiet sanctuary to engross one’s self in a novel- whether it be sci-fi, fantasy, realistic fiction, historical fiction, or non-fiction.

When quiet time is over, however, the library can be a fun place for extra-curricular activities. For example, our school has an annual ‘Teen Tech Week’ in the library. During Teen Tech Week, Ms. Kahn had an activity every day during lunch for a week. Activities included poem writing, book sharing- we each brought a favorite book of ours and gave a little summary of what it was about-, and even an interview with an author. Activities like this are what attract people to the library like termites to wood, each bite taken out of the wood a book taken off the shelf(unlike the termites, however, students usually return the books). These fun-filled activities encourage learning and offer a break from the classroom, while still offering education at the same time as fun.

The fun activities, quiet reading environment, and helpful technology tutorials are why I am against Bulletin 741. Giving principals the ability to take away libraries will be disastrous if they choose to do so. I can’t imagine school without my cheerful, helpful librarian. She offers so much to the school, whether it is by helping teachers sort out their technology issues or recommending a good book or two(or five).
Sincerely,
Holly Wilkinson
7th grade student
Patrick Taylor Science and Technology Academy

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