In a recent post on the AASL blog, Buffy Hamilton discusses a debate that has been raging about an article in Teacher Magazine about classroom libraries versus libraries. In thinking about the post, and the responses, I find myself over a barrel here. (see the link to the post I am referring to above). I agree with Miller that more books in more places are important for student literacy–that excitement about books carries a lot of influence with students.
I feel that we have to come to this discussion from a place of strength and assurance about our library programs, not a place of defense. I don’t think there’s even a question that we need strong school library collections and staffing.
And as a former English teacher, I can relate with Miller’s desire to have a well-stocked classroom library. My belief is that her students probably also continue to “check out” books whether from the library or her room, and they are reading, which is our ultimate goal. And I also wouldn’t think to imply that as an English teacher she wouldn’t necessarily be selecting excellent titles for her students, because I myself remember scrounging for great young adult books for my students (though I also used my school library a great deal.)
Now, as a librarian, I too am troubled by the sometimes lack of connection between the classroom and libraries/librarians. Sometimes we aren’t all working in concert with one another, and that is unfortunate. I think perhaps we need a better understanding of how to support teachers’ needs. But we have to remember that we keep the entire school and curriculum in mind–and that is part of our purpose.
I don’t perceive that Miller was arguing to replace one kind of funding with another, though of course that could happen. And I don’t really love that some see her interest as competing with the interests of the library.
But I do think that in terms of the entire curriculum and entire student body, the excitement and support that a library can provide for students in terms of reading is significant and important.
Buffy asks some excellent questions that are worth serious consideration. How do we encourage more of a “joint mission”?
How can we be in “more places” in our buildings so we take ourselves to the students?
What does a library look like? Can’t both things be helpful to students?
(most of this post was also a comment from the AASL blog).