Thursday, June 18, 2015

Russ on Reading: In Praise of School Librarians

Russ on Reading: In Praise of School Librarians:

In Praise of School Librarians

Today a word about school librarians and how important they are to the goal of bringing literacy to children. I suppose first of all we need to deal with the nomenclature issue. Today it is more accurate and politically correct to call these very special folks "media specialists." Certainly the job of the librarian has grown over the years, so that librarians are now expected to be what Howard Stern used to call himself, "The King of All Media." But I confess I have a soft spot in my heart for the term "librarian", which evokes for me lazy afternoons dawdling in the stacks looking for another short novel by Steinbeck or historical parody by Richard Armour or picture history of World War II with a librarian often leading the way. So for me it is librarian and I hope no media specialists out there are offended.

I learned very early in my teaching career that the school librarian could be the teacher's best friend. I was teaching at Bristol Junior-Senior High School in Pennsylvania and had been charged with taking my freshly minted Master's degree in literacy, which the school district had helped pay for, and starting a brand new "developmental reading" program for the seventh grade. To start the program, the district gave me the princely sum of $400. I took my purchase order and my own list and went down to the school library to talk to Hilda Ben Ezra, school librarian.

Hilda was one of the more remarkable people I have ever met and she is the Russ on Reading: In Praise of School Librarians: