[Event Notes] Libraries In Our Schools: What makes libraries so important and how we can save them!

We really appreciated how many people came to discuss this important issue. Registration for the event was free and held at The Collingswood Public Library on 3/19/19

 

Key Takeaways

The presentation given by the panel which included members of NJASL, Camden County Library, school librarians, and School Library Media Specialists drove home a compelling case in favor of library spaces in Collingswood elementary schools.

The entire panel and the CEAG asked caregivers and stakeholders to take the following advocacy steps:

A. Contact the Board of Education with three areas of focus:

  1. to emphasize the importance of the schools preserving their existing library spaces
  2. redressing the lack of library space at Tatem Elementary school
  3. advocating for the district to hire professionals for the library spaces rather than having the libraries staffed solely by adult volunteers and sometimes classroom teachers or school staff.

You can sign the Petition Here

Or download a copy of the letter here

B. Advocate for Media Literacy to State Legislators:

  1. A1995 / S2394– Requires School Library Media Specialists

2. A132 / S2933 –  Information Literacy Bill

 

C. Sign Up For CEAG Newsletter to stay involved

 

What is NJASL?

The New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) promotes excellence in school librarianship and advocates for strong school library media programs for all students. NJASL provides school library media specialists with educational opportunities and current information aligned with state and national learning standards to ensure that all school libraries empower students, faculty, and staff to become effective and ethical users and producers of information.

Is There A Problem With Libraries In Collingswood Schools?

A. Reported: No Elementary School Librarians at the Elementary Level since 2012 retirement of elementary library/media teacher.

B. William P. Tatem Elementary’s Library had been repurposed for another classroom due to space restrictions. Some materials were re-homed into classroom libraries at the school, but with many books left over that are now out of circulation completely.

C. Our Secondary Level Media Specialist is retiring( fortunately with the hiring process ongoing for a replacement professional)

D. Inconsistent access to a school library for our students really adds to the issue of Equity in Collingswood Elementary Schools.

E. Our students realize how important libraries really are…

 

What Is A School Library?

Library Stereotype:

  • Quiet Room
  • Filled With Books

The Reality (when a professional is dedicated for that purpose):

  • Access to a maker space for things like Robot kits and a daily dose of STEM
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality access
  • A center for Professional Development
  • Connects our schools with information resources
  • Interlibrary loans
  • Community Outreach
  • A professional to research and write grants to fund these programs

Why Should We Be Investing In Professional Librarians and Library Space?

  • A School Library Media Specialist helps students and teachers find resources and materials to assist with learning that is usually buried in a google search.
  • The library space may also be reserved for lessons as a flexible learning space for when students are working on collaborative projects or otherwise need a bigger space than the classroom allows.
  • Librarians are also connected to learning experiences that teachers may not be aware of like guests or the latest in media trends since they are “tuned in” to those channels all of the time.

What About Our Technology Curriculum?

While Collingswood’s Technology Curriculum (and almost all others) does include Media Literacy as a Core Content Standard, it is not the primary focus of these classes and we still see students struggling with finding reliable sources for their school and personal research work. Our District’s Curriculum Map May Be Seen Here.

A Consistent Voice Of Reason In Our Noisy World

The Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) did a study that was published in 2016 that showed

“Our “digital natives” may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.”
SHEG Study

 

Consider how on March 1, 2019, our district sent a letter home to parents warning of an internet hoax called “The Momo Challenge” letter here

It is hard to remember to always test sources unless we are constantly reminded that we need to do so. Librarians allow for the whimsy and empathy learned from fiction, while reminding us that we should be skeptical and that we should be tracing facts to their original sources; a life readiness skill for living in the modern world. By having a member of the staff that is dedicated to the testing of sources who is providing access to online tools that are reserved for research professionals, school librarians, or are available via Public Libraries has immense value. These programs are cost prohibitive when used by one user, but would be better used and cost effective if shared across multiple classrooms and schools.

By The Numbers

1.  Collingswood School District has funding available via Title 3 and Title 1 for use in library spaces.

 

2. Our Library Staff: Student Ratio is hurting us in rankings 1988:1.

Student and Staff Ratios from NJ School Performance Report 2017-2018

 

3. QSAC scores are affected by -3 points by not having school librarians

4. The cost (salary) for an Elementary School Librarian is approximately $64,300

5. Librarians could prove to be our smartest investment (or biggest bargain)

 

Credit: NJASL Website

 

Resources

Click Here for even more helpful resources (Because… Librarians)

Listen To The Podcast:

Websites

NJASL https://www.njasl.org

ILoveLibraries.org

Future Ready Schools:https://futureready.org/

Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes_15804.htm

Jen R

Jen R

Jen Rossi, Chief Information Officer (CIO) Jen Rossi moved to Collingswood with her spouse in 2012. She is a graduate of Georgian Court University with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and Fine Art. She has a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing in Elementary Education (K-5) and as a Teacher of Fine Art (K-12). After a part-time floating position and substitute teaching, Jen returned to the corporate world. Professionally Jen is a Digital Marketing Manager for a privately owned insurance brokerage, providing important information on how to reduce the risks in today's business world: ranging from slip and fall injuries to computer network hacks. Getting the information in the hands of people who need it with the help of guidebooks, webinars, instructional videos, blog posts, social media alerts, and online courses. With this background in education and knowledge of the process for communicating important information to anyone willing to hear it, Jen focuses her energy on making a big impact with small things- making life a little more convenient, helping people get informed, keeping things practical and timely, and encouraging achievable goals for success. In her free time, Jen loves upcycling, improving, and otherwise repurposing materials to the delight of family, neighbors, and Etsy customers. She looks forward to running down questions and getting helpful information into social feeds and inboxes of members of the Collingswood community.