Thursday, September 3, 2009

Outsourcing Education?

The School Library Journal reports that a California school district, which had previously furloughed its certified media specialists, has now closed all 28 of its K-12 school libraries. Students will only be allowed to visit their building's library with classroom teachers, and may no longer check out books.

In a brilliant solution to recreational and informational resource requirements, "Superintendent Godwin has suggested that students use the Internet, the public library, or resources at home to complete their classroom and research assignments."

No mention is made of just who will be responsible for instructing children and teens in efficient, effective, appropriate, safe usage of such "resources."

In its Vision Statement, Fulsom Cordova Unified School notes that "Business and community partnerships greatly enhance students’ learning experiences and educational opportunities. Partnerships offer students opportunities to apply their learning to real-world situations."

Perhaps students should visit the local YMCA for sports and fitness? Or hang out in the newsroom to learn the basics of English and composition? And there's always cash registers in the mall to demonstrate math skills, right?

Maybe outsourcing skills instruction is part of some grand plan. Maybe.

"What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education." --Harold Howe, former U.S. Commissioner of Education

"girl with book" by Tom (mmm a rosa tint)


Harold Shaw Jr. said...

Diane - as budget get cut more and more, unfortunately education is going to go through more transitions. I don't like this one, when I was a teacher, my librarian was a huge resource and I can't imagine not having her available to help my students and I out.


loonyhiker said...

This is absolutely horrible! I remember as a young child that the library is where I learned the love of reading! The librarians were the ones who took the time to get to know me and recommend books they thought I would enjoy. Throughout my school years, the library was my refuge to go whenever I needed to escape some stresses of daily life. How sad that many children will not have the same opportunities.

diane said...


I don't see how schools can say they're promoting "21st century skills" without emphasizing information fluency. And who better to help locate, evaluate and utilize information than an experienced librarian?


You touch on the other aspect of the librarian's profession: fostering the love of reading and, yes, books.

paul c said...

May I be a fly in the ointment, a devil's advocate? I wholeheartedly agree that the right teacher librarian is fully versed in the possibilities of Web 2.0 technologies and can be of strategic help for students. On the other hand, what if some librarians do not measure up and offer little help to students? (I have seen it on occasion.) Also as classroom teachers become more versed with internet research skills why can they not become the surrogate teacher librarian offering pivotal help in the use of the resources of the library? Please set me straight.

diane said...


Dissenting views are always welcome!

Unfortunately, there are some librarians who are remain firmly committed to "the way it's always been done."

The changes in the information landscape are sweeping and profound. ALL education professionals need to accept this fact and take steps to acquire the knowledge they need to effectively perform their duties.

That is not to say that libraries should be transformed into computer labs. There is still a place in our world for the love of books and reading.

An effective librarian should be able to provide appropriate digital resources AND help students find the perfect book to fire their imagination and stimulate their creativity.

While classroom teachers can be effective partners, no one knows the collection - and available databases - like a certified librarian. Collaboration between teachers and librarians is the key to successful classroom projects.

Did I convince you?

paul c said...

Hopefully that essential collaboration between certified librarians and teachers takes place on a regular and dynamic basis.

diane said...

Hopefully ;-)

Jim said...

Diane- I am a teacher and would not know what to do without the media specialist I colloaborate all year with. The need for your specialty is increasing not dying out. Of course the role of a media specialist is transformaing but the thought of closing all the libraries is just ludacris. The school district in California is doing a great disservice to it's students.


diane said...


If the administrators decide to rely on public libraries, and the public libraries start cutting back or closing (see my 9/12 posting, Wasteland), then what?

Jim said...

I know they have been closing some public libraries in my area. Mostly small branches in hard hit towns I wonder if the majority of citizens realize how important an issue this is. No offense to the public library... I visit it at least once a week to get materials, but a media specialist in a school is more than a librarian but an educator that works with the students. Hopefully this economic downturn ends and they can reverse this.

diane said...


In New York State, school librarians must be certified teachers, in addition to having a library degree.

As wonderful as our assistants are, they cannot take the place of a teacher/librarian, who can and should be both interacting with students and collaborating with colleagues.

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