The Experts

‘School librarians positively impact student learning. They are fundamental to building capacity in schools for continuous improvement in children and adult learning.  Their work reflects a true collaboration model where all stakeholders are
involved in building a sustainable model for life-long learning.  The coalition provides the energy, organization and
leadership required to sustain support for school librarians and effective collaboration models’Gene Sharratt, Washington State University
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‘I’ve spent my career in quality of life issues, having served three governors as Economic Development Commissioner and chairing the state’s Quality of Life task force.In all the hearings I did across the state, large and small communities, the singular most important issue is the quality of
our schools. We simply will not succeed in a world economy, where our product will never be the least expensive, if we
don’t build knowledge based product.I believe strongly that lowering our library capacity to part time service sends the wrong message to our children, our
parents, our targeted companies and “family friendly” future employers. They simply will go where they know children are
being mentored to read, research, problem solve…follow their personal “thrill of the hunt”. A librarian is person who
unlocks and nurtures this adventure. It is a full time job involving research, training and commitment.’Don Barbieri, Chairman, Red Lion Corporation

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‘Teacher-librarians just make good sense: educationally, in terms of student performance and economically, in terms of
“bang for the buck.”This is the information age. Key, basic skills for all students are reading, communicating, information and technology
literacy. To quote Bill Gates, “Computers today are a million times more powerful than 20 years ago. And, it’s going to
happen again.  In 20 years, computers will be a million times more powerful than today.”What does that mean for our children? What will it mean to live and succeed in such a world?  Our children will need to be
more than literate – they will need to be fluent in reading, communicating, information processing and technology.In schools, the only teaching professional directly dedicated to seeing that our children gain these skills is the teacher-
librarian. The mission of the teacher-librarian is “to ensure that students are effective users of ideas and information.” They
fulfill this role in 3 ways:

  1. reading teacher and advocate,
  2. information and technology skills teacher
  3. chief information officer (CIO) responsible for managing information systems, resources, and services.

This last role – CIO – is increasingly important in schools today. Information technology, resources, and systems are
expensive. And, I’m not talking about just in the physical library.  I’m talking about textbooks, networks, online resources
available to students, teachers, and parents 24/7. Who is going to see that they are effectively used and efficiently managed?  The teacher-librarian as CIO, that’s who.

Let me ask you to consider a hypothetical choice: If your own child could only learn one thing this year: the Pythagorean theorem or how to find, evaluate, and use information – which would you choose?  Well, of course we don’t question the need for math teachers, but somehow we seem to be doing so for teacher-librarians who teach our kids essential information and technology skills.

The solution is to clearly define what we want for our kids – fluency in essential skills and jobs and success in the information age – and to invest in and hold accountable our teacher-librarians and library programs to ensure that our students have these information/research skills.’

Mike Eisenberg, University of Washington

 

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‘Studies in more than 15 states provide abundant evidence that students tend to perform better on state achievement tests at schools with certified teacher-librarians as well as support staff. Many studies further demonstrate that this link cannot be explained away by other school and community conditions. The impact of school libraries does not rely upon FTEs or dollars alone, however.  Success stories from across the nation testify repeatedly to the contributions of certified teacher-librarians, especially when their principals and teachers also embrace inquiry-based learning and teaching information literacy. There is no single magic bullet solution to improving education; but, given the proper environment and support, there is plenty of evidence that school librarians can be key contributors to success.  A strong school library isn’t an intervention; it’s an integral part of a successful school—one that depends at least as much on a highly-qualified leader as any classroom.’

Keith Curry Lance, PhD

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‘School libraries have often been regarded as “costs” rather than “investments” because administrators and board members have not been fully informed of the potential return for each dollar committed to library media services. I have never been a school librarian.  I have, however, been a high school teacher, a high school assistant principal, a high school principal, and a professor of educational administrator at the University of Nebraska over the past forty years.  In both my research and my experience, I have seen that the presence of a quality school librarian and a quality school library media program can make a substantial difference in the quality of students’ experiences as they progress through school.’Gary Hartzell, PhD

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‘A school that loses its professional librarian loses its heart. It also loses an expertise that is often hidden from the public eye..  My 20 years as a teacher showed me that the librarian is  alert  not only to the special needs of students, helping them flourish as readers and seekers of knowledge, but also as an invaluable resource to teachers, helping them enrich the quality of  their curriculum.  Librarians are there to help both students and teachers be the best they can be.  Nothing can replace them.’

Susan Ohanian

Susan Ohanian, a longtime public school teacher, is a fellow at the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University and at the Vermont Society for the Study of Education.  In addition, she is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic, Parents, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Phi Delta Kappan, Education Week, Language Arts, and American School Board Journal. In 2003, Susan received The National Council of Teachers of English’s “NCTE Orwell Award” for her outstanding contribution to the critical analysis of public discourse.  In recent years, Susan has taken a leadership role in education issues such as high-stakes standards and the critical evaluation of standardized testing.

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‘Libraries of all kinds are vital to our society to develop a literate, informed populace. As the director of Spokane Public Library I see the complimentary relationship between the school libraries and the public libraries every day. The public library focuses heavily on early childhood development and provides programs and materials for children from the time they are born. Research shows that the first few years are critical to brain development and a strong foundation for reading and academic success is formed at this early age. But once children reach school age they need to continue their relationship with the library in order to develop a love of reading, learning and intellectual pursuit that will serve them well throughout their lives. School libraries support the curriculum and the role of public libraries is to provide materials and support for independent learning and inquiry. The public library is not a substitute for the school library and vice versa. A good measure of the community’s commitment to the quality of life of its citizens is the quality of its libraries and the calibre of its library staff.’Pat Partovi
Director of Public Libraries
City of Spokane

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‘At this time in history, the dawn of the 21st century, there’s never been a more important time for our students (who are becoming citizens of a global society beyond anything we as educators could have imagined in our childhood) to have ALL the tools and access to all the tools, to make their future sound. All children, regardless of socioeconomic level, should have access to the world of books and technology that a well funded school library can provide for them from pre-kindergarten through their educational career.’

Dr. Christie Kaaland
Antioch University-Seattle

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‘Isaac Asimov wrote, “When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.” The Los Angeles Times’ story about how Spokane parents are working to prevent school librarians from being cut is very relevant to California (“In parents’ book, librarian cuts go too far,” December 23). Research shows that better public and school libraries are related to better reading achievement. The reason for this is obvious:  Children become better readers by reading more, and for many children, the library is only place they have access to books. California has the worst school libraries in the country, it ranks dead last among all states with one school librarian for every 5000 students. This must be one of the reasons California continues to have among the lowest reading scores in the nation. There is a more reasonable and less expensive solution: Improving, not destroying, public and school libraries.’

Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Dr. Stephen Krashen is Professor Emeritus of Learning and Instruction, at the University of Southern California. He is an expert in the field of linguistics, specializing in theories of language acquisition and development, and is best known for developing the first comprehensive theory of second language acquisition. Recently Dr. Krashen’s research has focused on reading and its effects on language acquisition and academic success. He is also an advocate for “recreational reading” and better stocked school libraries because of research relating both to higher achievement. He holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. His recent papers can be found at http://www.sdkrashen.com

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‘Accomplished librarians are at the heart of learning in a school. There is no substitute. Parent volunteers, teaching assistants, and classroom teachers are often called on to provide stop gap measures, but few have the expertise or time to promote reading and to assist teachers and students with print and technology resources. At this time in our history, learning how to learn is the most basic skill students must develop, and the most fully resourced place in a school–the library–is where that happens. Libraries without full time librarians and current resources stagnate into little more than check out facilities.’

Kathy Egawa

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‘As school children learn to read and research, we lay the groundwork for future participation in a world representing all cultures and communities. In this way, school libraries strike at the very heart of democracy by providing opportunities for giving voice and equal choice to all children.’

Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet
President of Antioch University-Seattle

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