Thursday, May 30, 2024

Librarians Matter

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Letters to the Editor

By Megan Booth

Dear Mayor Hoydick, 

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the Stratford Board of Education’s recently approved budget proposal. The unprecedented preemptive program cuts that were made are, simply, detrimental to our children and their education. This decision is penny wise and pound foolish. It dismantles the very heart of a schools educational mission. 

The Stratford Education System’s mission statement is to “Support of the whole student through a challenging and inspiring education, within a safe and inclusive environment.” There are so many ways which librarians serve this mission.

Libraries educate the whole student in ways that classroom curricula does not: they develop future thinkers, analysts, and professionals and teach them the skills of interpreting the world around them. The ability to, in a self reliant way, locate , collect, and delve deeply into a subject is essential for success in higher education and subsequent professional life. Libraries provide the binding thread of higher order thinking that nurtures the whole student. Librarians are the keystone to this educational scaffold.

Libraries are described as a passport to the outside world, and librarians are the master guides. They understand and curate their catalogues, manage and repair technology and devices, and connect students and teachers to resources outside the school environment. They are responsible for delivering to students a wealth of information along with the skills to marshal, filter, verify and cite it. In practice, this means that a librarian observes and understands the interest of every student that passes through their doors (because they do truly work with every student in a school for a number of consecutive years), then act as a guide to select appropriate materials which access that informational terrain. Librarians have the power to spark the interests of every student and provide the inspiration to keep learning!

Libraries are safe spaces where every student can seek information. Librarians have the privilege of providing students with whatever they need to learn in a non-judgmental space. They curate digital resources, filtering them for age appropriate content. What could be safer or more inclusive than a space where every single person can learn whatever they wish?

There has been an astounding amount of research supporting the value of libraries and librarians. Studies beginning in 1960 to present day all support the same conclusion: that there is a “strong relationship” between quality library programs and student achievement. (Data compiled by the American Association of School Librarians). Our school district has already seen the detriment of losing librarians at the middle school level, where circulation has declined drastically. At the extreme, over the last 6 years, Flood Middle School students checked out an average of 1.5 books. Per Year. (Averages taken from 12 years of circulation data between both middle schools, provided by Follett/Destiny software and BOE enrollment data).

Taking away librarians negatively impacts every facet of Stratford’s educational mission. Consider the message that approving these cuts sends to every parent and student in this town. Consider that this message will be received by not only current, but also by future voters. And consider that this letter would not reach you without the skill acquired through education, higher order thinking, fact finding, and evaluation… All of which were practiced in a LIBRARY.

2 COMMENTS

  1. So well said, and written, on many levels! Especially in recognizing “what could be safer or more inclusive then a space where every single person can learn whatever they want”. Brilliant and beautiful! I sincerely hope the leaders of Stratford can stop the polarized atmosphere that has resulted from these not well thought out, nor transparent, threats to the educational fabric of our town.

    • Thank you so much Kara. Ther Stratford Crier is working hard to make us the Voice of Stratford.
      Barbara Heimlich
      Editor

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