Librarians: The Best Teachers
Why I Love Being a Librarian
As a librarian at my church, I get to share some of my favorite things: books and ideas. Parents and grandparents ask for suggestions for children's reading. Pastors recommend books from the pulpit and I make sure we have those books available. Everyone occasionally needs some help with personal finances, child rearing, or relationships issues--and there are books for that, too.
I don't consider myself a teacher, really. Rather, I help people find the resources they need to teach themselves. Perhaps that does make me a teacher of sorts, since a teacher's goal is to enable the student to function without the teacher, given time and practice.
Librarians can make the difference by encouraging reading in ways classroom teachers might not. Often it is through introducing a reluctant or discouraged reader to a special book that will turn on the light, such as the Little House books or the works of J.R. R. Tolkien.
Founders were Readers!
Ben Franklin: A Reader
Benjamin Franklin, like many of America's early leaders, was largely self-educated. His autobiography is an interesting study in how a young man may teach himself to write and argue with skill, using whatever books he can get his hands on.
In 1731 Franklin founded the Library Company of Philadelphia. His personal library had over 4,000 books at the time of his death.(1)
Read about Reading
- Real Books v. Textbooks
Textbooks cannot compare with real books, e.g. complete novels, biographies, poetry and essay collections, plays, and field guides. Real books offer real educatonal value.
- Articles: Close Reading Is Close to a Con
What Common Core calls "close reading" will kill the reader inside a student.
- The Ultimate Reading List
Classics That Endure -- June 1997 Education Reporter
Former Teacher of the Year Speaks Out
Free Reading v. Schooling
John Taylor Gatto, in his excellent Underground History of American Education, spends several pages extolling the advantages of a library over a classroom. Among them, he says, "The librarian doesn't tell me what to read, doesn't tell me what sequence of reading I must follow, doesn't grade my reading. The librarian trusts me to have a worthwhile purpose of my own."
While teachers should teach children how to read, they should then make sure those children have opportunities to exercise those skills on great books, not awful textbooks written by committees. Even as a child in school myself, I declared that I wished I could simply have the school bus drop me off at the Indianapolis Central Library every morning instead of school. School took up so much time when I could have been reading!
The following table summarizes more of Gatto's comparisons of classrooms and libraries:
A Comparison of Libraries and Schools
Librarian helps you choose books.
Teacher tells you what to read.
all sorts of books
Read without interruption.
Reading interrupted by "comprehension questions."
tolerates eccentric reading
prescribed sequences of reading
diversity of books and ideas
politically correct books and ideas
A Shout Out to Libraries
"I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
― Ray Bradbury