Why Libraries and Librarians are so Frequently Undervalued
The Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians Are Undervalued
It is true that librarians are often overlooked and undervalued. I have seen it for myself in the elementary schools I have taught in. The same scenario replays again and again. Teachers planning together and struggling to come up with resources and ideas to meet school district student goals, while never reaching out to the librarian for help.
Frequently funds for libraries and librarians are cut and this is caused by a few different things. The first one being that the importance of the library is never brought up in teacher training. Teachers become consumed in their work and never think to look to the library for assistance. The point is that librarians need to be actively communicating with teachers and administrators, providing relevant information and resources, assistance and collaborative opportunities to them often.
In addition, the progress made by librarians in improving student achievement is easily overlooked by administrators as it is harder to define by them. Librarians are also “isolated”, working by themselves and during times of the day when teachers and administrators are in social settings. This means librarians have to keep evidence of their impact on student achievement and have to make time to be seen which can be a challenge.
Librarians are to blame somewhat for their being viewed as dispensable by teachers and administrators. They often show one another all of their ideas and successes, but do not share these things with the school community. As librarians, we have an enormous task before us that we cannot ignore.
Article by Gary N. Hartzell
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Ways Librarians Can Create Awareness
According to Gary N. Hartzell, a former school administrator, there are three major ways to turn the tides in the perception of the school librarian. First is building and maintaining positive relationships with administrators and teachers who are leaders in the school. These people will support the librarian and hopefully have their back when they are not there. They will know how important the librarian’s position in the school is and will want to support them. To achieve this, I think it is essential for the librarian to be present at meetings, providing effective input, and offering assistance without being asked. It is also important to provide beneficial student activities where student achievement is easily observed. Activities such as Battle of the Books, Accelerated Reader, author events and book clubs show vast reading improvement among a school population.
Another way Hartzell suggests is by writing articles and making presentations for audiences other than librarians. Librarians share ideas all the time, but often fail to tell anyone else about their successes. I think by making this change, librarians can have a huge impact on the way others think.
Lastly, Hartzell says that librarians not only need to be part of supporting organizations, but need to be active in their organizations to make an impact in the way librarians are viewed. Participating in presentations, being a part of lobbying activities and writing grant proposals are just a few ways to make their ideas heard. It is clear that librarians need to be vocal to make changes happen.