I believe a robust, twenty-first century school library is key in supporting a path out of poverty for economically disadvantaged and at-risk students. I feel that one of the school library’s primary roles is to explore the academic needs and assets of students. I am deeply curious about current work by school and public libraries to explain and mitigate the loss of readership in teens. As librarian, I will continue this mandate to educate my community using the wealth of resources and services we provide, targeting programs to both students and parents. I want to delve into the long-term effects on patronage of integrating library summer reading program registration with schools. Parents, administrators, and school board must regularly see great things are happening in the library in order to fully support the library. In order to have a populace that values libraries in budget meetings and voting booths, we must streamline the transition from school library usage to public library patronage among adults.
School libraries need to incorporate data analysis to make informed decisions about managing their collections in light of present student and faculty needs. A school library must embrace the Digital Revolution or risk becoming a time capsule, limiting opportunities to engage students with materials that acknowledge their identities and interests. In addition to helping us tailor our collection, we use the data to amplify circulation of underutilized portions of our physical collection. I am passionate about exploring new avenues that challenge students to check out thought-provoking books. Furthermore, as a school librarian I would use follow the public library’s example in using data-driven decision-making to continuously refine the materials available and make the most use of library space. Recent research indicates transitioning school libraries into learning labs or Makerspaces may be an integral part keeping teens reading. We must retain those elements of fun and novelty in secondary school library programming to inspire students to seek out library time. However, a school library can and should go further than offering crafts and games: the library-Makerspace movement has the potential to help kids uncover their driving passions, refine real-world skills, and exercise the creativity that often gets squeezed out of secondary education. By revealing their interests, we give students an intrinsic motivator not only to read, but to teach and to lead.
I chose the Benjamin Franklin quote above to summarize my stance on intellectual freedom in the school library. Today, as ever, librarians face overt and subtle pressures to sensor or self-sensor their library’s collection. I believe librarians must stand resolute in offering students a full collection of works that speak to their lives and realities. To that end, a librarian must remain engaged and vocal in the school community to continue to educate all stakeholders on the critical, character-building role of reading works which broadcast challenging truths.