As education technology has evolved, so, too, have the kinds of digital tools that school librarians use with their students. More than 750 school librarians responded to SLJ’s survey, representing K–12 public and private schools across the country. According to the data, they make the most of what they have, learning one day and sharing that knowledge the next.
Shelly Ripplinger watched last year as her job disappeared in Utah’s Ogden School District—fired along with 19 of her fellow school librarians. But after push-back from colleagues, parents, and advocates, one-time money has now funded seven district librarian positions, including hers. They travel to schools as mobile co-teachers, while clerks man school libraries.
Nancy Robertson is not a school librarian—but as Michigan’s State Librarian, she believes strongly in the role of certified media specialists in student success. That’s why she has worked for the last five years on a benchmarking program called SL21 to help the state’s school librarians raise their programs to exemplary status.
School librarians are currently an endangered species in Houston—and the future doesn’t look very bright. Decisions in the district on librarian staffing levels are left to the principals, with no mandates at the district level for certified media specialists in the schools. The result? A dramatic decline in the number of these professionals serving students in Houston, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Though the U.S. is still trying to push students to absorb more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL—aka Rocket City—has been steering hopeful scientists for decades, since opening the doors to Space Camp in 1982. Space Camp is a STEM education fantasy world, in which kids in attendance experience days of STEM learning wrapped into intensive space exploration and rocketry know-how.
The books come by the hundreds almost daily. Boxes dropped off from yoga clubs, suburban book drives, and schools to be handed out at the Mighty Writers Street Libraries—pop-up libraries recently launched in Philadelphia to offer books to the city’s students and parents who watch as their access to titles diminish.
Imagine a school library bigger than the school it supports—with an auditorium, homework center, and a 6,000-square-foot teen room where hundreds of iPads and computers are at students’ disposal. That’s the reality for 9th and 10th graders at San Diego’s new e3 Civic High School, a public charter school literally inside the recently completed 400,000-square foot, $185-million Central Library.
Inspired by the experiences of Connecticut librarian Sarah Ludwig’s Minecraft library club, Elizabeth Grohoski and Karen Letteriello of the Mattituck-Laurel Library (NY) are now using a virtual Minecraft library to attract young patrons. The game allows users to build in a 3-D virtual world with cubes similar to Legos—but without any proscriptive kits and manuals.
Can a public library serve both school children and its other patrons at the same time? That question is being put to the test in Chicago this week as the Back of the Yards Library—a public branch meant to serve as a school library for the 9–12 grade students attending the new Back of the Yards High School next door—opens its doors.
Already hobbled, Philadelphia schools are facing their first day with fewer school librarians—continuing a trend in the metropolitan school district and the state of Pennsylvania as well. Of the approximately 22 remaining certified school librarians working in the Philadelphia school district, some are not returning to their school librarian positions.
Draconian cuts to Miami public libraries—nearly 45 percent of its branches shuttered and more than 250 staff positions—lost stand to impact the community. The intended cuts pose a monumental loss of service to Miami’s K–12 students, as some of the public libraries slotted to shut down are close to Miami-Dade County public schools.
Highland Park, MI, residents are still enraged that a selection of books and other materials from the local high school’s collection devoted to global black history was thrown away recently. The revelation that many hundreds of titles had been found in a dumpster has spurred one community protest, accusations of neglect and mismanagement, and the resignation of an appointed school board member.
School media specialist positions are being hit hard across the Sunshine State, with school librarians finding their positions renamed—and, in some cases, their jobs re-assigned or terminated—for the coming 2013–2014 school year. From Citrus County to Pasco County, some of Florida’s districts have completely changed the way they now view the role of a media specialist.