GUEST PIECE: Schools need their librarian full-time

GUEST+PIECE%3A+Schools+need+their+librarian+full-time

(FILE PHOTO / EYE OF THE TIGER)

Lauren Zdybel, Zenia Treto, Johanna McCoy, Loretta Saenz, and Megan Blue

This piece has been written by the teacher-librarians of RJUHSD following a district change to library services. With the new plan, six library technicians will be hired to handle issues with Chromebooks at the six RJUHSD schools, while three credentialed librarians will manage the six libraries – each taking on two schools, and only working half of the time at either. 

 

Change can be difficult.  But a good change can also be invigorating.  It can create something stronger and better.  Unfortunately, the change that RJUHSD is planning for its libraries is not a good change. The district plans to adopt a “District-Librarian Model” effective with the upcoming school year. It is a plan that can only impact teachers and students negatively.

 In essence, each of the six campuses will have one full-time library technician who will handle Chromebook repairs and supervise the library, while a single credentialed librarian will now serve two campuses at the same time.  As proposed, this plan means that no school in the district will have a full-time credentialed librarian to serve its needs.

The job of librarian has always been to teach information literacy, digital literacy, research skills and to support classroom instruction. Numerous studies have shown that this type of instruction is an essential key to student success after high school.  Studies also show a high correlation between a full-time credentialed librarian and student achievement.  But, the introduction of Chromebooks, while a boon for our students technologically, wreaked havoc on the ability of teacher-librarians to do the job for which we are credentialed. Our time was devoured by the daily grind of Chromebook loaners and repairs. 

This last January, we took our concerns to the district. In turn, the district commissioned a report by School Services of California who came out to observe, interview and see the impact that Chromebooks were having on our job.  That report was released in February and largely supported our concerns. This District-Librarian model is the district’s response to the report. 

It is our deeply held conviction that one librarian cannot equitably or effectively teach on two separate campuses. Not only will students lose access to an on-campus teacher-librarian during their school day, but many curricular programs and supports simply will not be possible. It is not a student-friendly model, and it is the students who, ultimately, will lose. 

We feel that in not going to the stakeholders – students, parents, teachers and community – the district acted unilaterally and without a full range of input and information. We will continue to urge the district to reconsider its plan for the coming year.  And we encourage anyone who has concerns about the loss of a full-time site librarian to consider emailing the RJUHSD Cabinet and School Board.