I know, I know, National Library Week was a while ago. We celebrated in my classroom by showing a little extra love to our school’s part time librarian (who is also our art teacher) and by encouraging those amongst us with out library cards to go ahead and sign up for one. However, the state of libraries in our state, nation, and the world at large is seriously bothering me. Fortunately, the county in which I work seems to have a reasonably healthy library system. They are large, with many programs, well stocked and staffed, and boast ample hours. However, the county in which I live is trying to sustain a library system that has taken some serious hits. Entire branches are closing and many have had their hours and staff cut back significantly.
Teachers, and English teachers especially, should be some of the libraries biggest advocates. Many of us know the value of a classroom library and pour hours, and often dollars, into cultivating a classroom environment that boasts easy access to a wealth and variety of books. We know that the more students are surrounded by books, the more likely they are to develop life long reading habits.
The same benefits are true of our school and public libraries. They provide the invaluable service of opening up more opportunities for reading and research than most of us could find on our own. They are staffed with knowledgeable persons eager to cultivate our reading interests and habits. For teachers, that’s one more expert in our boat, one more advocate for the reading practices we are preaching in our classroom, and hundreds more books than we could provide on our own.
Now here is the tricky part – Library usage is not down. In fact, it is the highest it has been in recent decades. Libraries are seeing more visitors and less money than ever before. Does this seem as backwards to you as it does to me? It blows my mind that local officials could look at the ways libraries are serving their clients and decide to reduce funding.
So how can we help?
Here are some ideas I’m sharing with my students. I would love to read some of yours in the comments section – especially if you are a librarian. How can we help YOU?
1. Donate used books to library sales and restock your home library from those same sale tables.
2. Join your local “Friends of the Library” group and participate in the many avenues for service those organizations offer.
3. Write to local officials advocating for increase funding for your library. Share what the institution has meant to you.
4. Show your librarians a little extra love. While this may not get them more funding. Letting them know that you care while they may not get the same appreciation from those negotiating their budgets will be uplifting.
Check out the info graphic below (you can find it online here):