April is the Coolest Month

Mr. Eliot had it wrong; April is not the cruelest month, it is the coolest month!

April is National Poetry Month.

April is Autism Awareness Month.

And, of course, April is SCHOOL LIBRARY MONTH! In fact, it is the 25th Anniversary of School Library Month.

And I am the "official spokesperson"!

::stands and bows deeply::

::adjusts crown::

(No, they didn’t give me a crown. I bought it for myself!)

I wish I could say that this year’s School Library Month is all about buying flowers for your librarian and baking a cake. Maybe next year we can do that. This year, we must fight the battle of righteousness.

Why?

Because all over the country, school libraries are being closed. Librarians are being fired. Children are being robbed of a central part of their education.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this map that shows where libraries are being closed. (Note: this map was just created a few days ago. As news of it spreads, more and more schools are being added. If you know of a school library that has been closed, or is no longer staffed by qualified, professional librarians, please add it to the map.)

There are more than 60 studies that show a direct connection between the improved academic acheivement of students and the presence of a library staffed with qualified librarians in their school.

So! Along with my regular fretting, gardening updates, writing tips and book news, I’m going to be talking about school libraries this month. I would love to highlight your library; the good news and the bad. Send me photos, links to news articles or websites, and statistics!! Tell me about what works in your school library or share the bad news about how it was closed. There is a real need for people across the country to come together and talk about this.

Here is what I think:

"A school without a library is like a body without a heart. A school library without a librarian is just a room with some books in it. Our children need school libraries staffed by professional librarians."

What do you think?

18 Replies to “April is the Coolest Month”

  1. I am so thankful that my family lives in a district that still understands the value of a school library. This year Lanigan Elementary in Fulton remodeled the entire intermediate wing (grades 4-6; we actually have walls now! LOL) and made the library a central part of the new layout. And it’s gorgeous! Very much modeled after a B&N bookstore, with comfy chairs to sit in and the “story steps” in the corner where teachers can read to their classes. I don’t understand how districts can be so short-sighted with their budget cuts. A sports team serves just a few, while a library benefits all.

  2. So disappointing

    I’m a librarian in Klein ISD, one of the districts pegged on the map. Our libraries are safe for another year, but after that, I just don’t know. It breaks my heart.

  3. I think it’s better to have an open library staffed by someone who cares about books, certified or not, than to have no library at all. I also think most people don’t have any idea of what a qualified librarian can do that an ordinary book-loving person can’t. One of the schools in my district had private funding for a teaching librarian for a few years, and when I heard what she was able to do with and for the teachers, I was very impressed. But I’d never even heard of a teaching librarian before that. Unfortunately their funding went away last year.

    Meanwhile, my daughter’s elementary school library is staffed by an “LRC specialist” who is very good with both kids and books (although I sometimes suspect she likes books just a little more than she likes kids). The library is housed in a nice new building that’s about 5 years old, but because of funding cuts it’s only open about 20 hours/week–no after-school hours. So the kids either have to wait for their biweekly classroom library time, or duck in during recess if they want to check out a book.

  4. my high school never had a library, and i always wished it did. instead we had a “media center” which the school catalogue described as a multimedia library. hahaha. 30 computers, a bunch of tables, one bored substitute to control the rabble, and a lone bookcase with half an encyclopedia and a few issues of Time and National Geographic.

    and this is from one of the top high schools in my state! sad–really, really sad.

  5. That’s so sad.

    I’ll never forget my high-school librarian. She knew I was into science, and turned me on to Science News magazine, a weekly publication with cutting edge research summaries from every branch of science.

    I’d read it cover to cover every week when the library got the new issue.

    And when it was time to clear out back issues, she asked if I wanted them. I came home that day with probably five years worth of back issues, and I read every one of them. For Christmas that year, my mom got me a subscription to Science News, and to this day I still receive and enjoy it.

  6. How can they do this?! It’s so unfair!

    People complain about how this country has a literacy problem. So let’s take away the only place some students can get books. Yeah, that’s a good idea. /sarcasm

    I just…I don’t even know what to say right now. 🙁

  7. When I was in grade school, going to the school library was the highlight of the week. You knew you’d discover something new, or return to old favorites, and it was also quiet, which I needed as a kid. Even in 8th grade, I’d pull out The Five Chinese Brothers after doing some dense algebra, just to soothe my head.

    In high school, I’d spend about every lunch there, either doing homework for that afternoon class, reading, or simply checking out the comics in the newspaper while talking quietly at a table with friends. A few times, when things got so tense I had to skip a class, the back desks of the library is where I’d go.

    I never had much contact with the stern librarian we had, but we got an assistant librarian my senior year, and she was just so cool that she got even me to linger by the desk and talk. I remember her asking what I wanted to be, and I said I didn’t know, and she smiled and said, “I haven’t figured it out, either.”

    That connection and reassurance I found nowhere else. With teachers you’re always trying to be the good student, always feeling judged and graded, but librarians simply opened the door to a sanctuary of learning and wonder.

  8. At my high school, they were going to have to cut our librarians if our levy didn’t pass.
    After much drama in the levy department (first it was a tie, then they did a recount, found One more yes vote, did another recount, and now someone has taken the decision to court but it’s still a pass), we found out that the librarians (and a lot of teachers and programs) would not have to be cut.
    When we found out, there were kids dancing in the hallways, teachers running around hugging each other in celebration, and many happy tears in the building.
    Our community is still very divided on the issue, but I’m very glad that so far our school district has literally been saved.
    Thank you so much for working hard to get the word out there that libraries are an integral part of school systems. I could not agree with you more.

  9. My first high school (I’m a military brat) had 50 high school students, but it had a very small library with a full-time librarian – the town didn’t have a library. I don’t remember being in there very often because we didn’t have time to go during school hours and I played every sport the school offered so I couldn’t go after school. One thing I do remember is that she was a hobbyist when it came to plants. We had a biology project where we had to pick and identify the leaves of 20 unique plants and she was a HUGE help to me on that project.

    My second high school was a DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) school in Guam and we didn’t have a library. Of course, we didn’t even have a cafeteria until my last year – we had to eat in the ‘foyer.’ It was an old weather station they turned into a high school four years before I graduated because the public schools on Guam were so terrible.

    We didn’t have a library on base either. I didn’t read very much for two years – except what was required for school. In fact, looking back I’m not quite sure how my love for books survived that time….

  10. Yep, when the economy is in the tank, let’s cut the things that help people become more educated and self-sufficient. THAT will break the cycle.

  11. Our school library and librarian ROCK

    I work at a private Christian school here in San Jose. Our librarian used to be part-time and she volunteered the rest of the week, so they finally made her full-time. Even as our enrollment drops and we need to cut some teaching staff, her position appears to be remaining safe. And with good reason.

    She has TWO Masters degrees and she is absolutely phenomenal. She is constantly updating our holdings — and we have a fantastic collection — including sometimes with purchases she makes with her own money. She consults teaching staff to find out what projects they do so she can buy books that will complement their curriculum. She gets to know each of our 400+ students well enough to recommend books based on what they’ve already read and liked. She is absolutely amazing, and with our library literally being the heart of our school, Jane is the heartbeat.

  12. April is the Coolest Month

    I loved your post and as a certified librarian, I totally agree that “a school without a library is like a body without a heart.” A library is the hub of a school, connecting students and teachers with books, technology, and nurturing inquiring minds.

  13. We started our poetry unit today in AP English. My teacher opened with Eliot’s quote and acknowledged that April was National Poetry Month. I just thought I’d share that because it made me smile.

    Through its hard financial times, my school district decided not to close school libraries, but to reduce their hours and staffing. The elementary school libraries in the district with the greatest hours serve the students whose parents lobbied for it. These parents already value reading. The elementary school libraries in the district with the fewest hours serve the students whose parents do not value reading, the students who have the most to gain from an accessible school library.

    The high school will have one librarian next year whose responsiblities aren’t limited to recommending books to students, but to babysitting the students who chose to use the library during their open periods. Even in school libraries that are not closing, there are still problems.

    Bridgette (Sister of the Book Shirt)

  14. School Libraries

    Great conversation and certainly a worthy topic which I think demands our attention! As a library advocate on the state and local level, and an avid library user myself, I would put myself on any support list for libraries. But I also note, with a great deal of sadness and disappointment, a number of school libraries from my own 5 children’s public education, as well as the libraries serving good friends who are teachers in the public school system in our district, which are staffed by qualified, licensed librarians who have absolutely no passion or drive to do their job and to do it well. The missed opportunities to impact children’s lives as well as their education, to turn them onto things that can change their lives (e.g., the most excellent librarian who gave the other respondent copies of a science periodical to read–talk about life-changing for him!), and who simply go through the motions of their day before they hit the parking lot at first bell’s ring–all of this and more is grievous to me. I would settle for fewer qualifications and more passion, if that’s what it takes. Missed opportunities can never be regained–and I’ve seen it for the last 20 years.

    That said, I will always fight, always, for school libraries, and public libraries. These institutions are the most pro-active use of public funding I can see–where else in the world can one obtain an absolutely free education and the information necessary to improve one’s lot in life than in the library? Thanks Ben Franklin–and thanks Ms. Anderson–let’s keep the doors open, and let’s make sure that inside those doors are people who take their positions and their ability to make a difference seriously!

  15. Quote from a High School Student

    “A library without a librarian is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without bread.”

    Nuff said.

  16. Another reason why April is the coolest month: it’s genocide and human rights awareness month! In my opinion one of the most important rights is the right to information, and who better to give you that freedom than libraries? At my school, we were forced to give up one of our librarians but we still have one and I am very glad we do.

Comments are closed.