In April, we celebrated School Library Month. The American Association of School Librarians disseminated public relations announcements, flyers, bookmarks, and videos on multiple platforms. One press release highlighted Tom Angleberger’s impression of school libraries: “A school library is like a Bat Cave: it’s a safe fortress in a chaotic world, a source of knowledge and the lair of a superhero. True the super hero is more likely to be wearing a cardigan than a bat suit, but still…”
Now that the celebration is over and the daily “cave” is back to a work-a-day month in May, perhaps we should reflect upon how the “Bat Cave” and the superhero helped us along the way, in order to discern what an effective school library is contributing in the present day.
Did you always feel safe in your school library? More than likely. I know for myself, I felt safe because my school librarian highlighted books celebrating my people. It was the only place I heard my dialect read-out loud from a book – the only place where storytellers who spoke my language were celebrated and honored! It was the place I felt included, instead of out-of-place! School librarians are doing this today, too, by collecting stories from differing cultures, highlighting diverse authors, facilitating state book awards, inviting authors to speak, and…as always, reading aloud.
Did you see the library as a source of knowledge? More than likely. I know I learned about the planets, the literature (and life history) of Edgar Allen Poe, different types of trees, and, of course, all about horses. The knowledge I garnered was all about my personal interests, and that was ok with everyone in the library! Same today – school libraries are collecting only the finest creative and engaging non-fiction for children to read, promoting self-choice amongst student patrons, and broadening the world view of each-and-every cardholder.
Did you see the library as the lair of a superhero? More than likely. Certainly so for this writer. In fact, my choice of career(s) was influenced by my personal superhero! She spoke to me with such enthusiasm for books and authors and reading and literature and knowledge and organization that I could never let that go! In fact, I kept it going for a lifetime! Returning to today’s quantitative world, recent studies reveal school librarians are qualitative superheroes, no doubt! Research in 34 states proves schools with highly-trained school librarians score higher on standardized tests (which means individual students are reading better)! Studies also show this progress extends across time, with the same schools enjoying higher graduation rates. Findings include the fact “that the benefits associated with good library programs are strongest for the most vulnerable and at-risk learners, including students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities.” Superheroes indeed!
During this reflective spring month, why not journal about how your childhood library made you feel safe, contributed to your knowledge base, and served as the lair of a superhero? Perhaps some of this reflection will appear in a letter of advocacy for more substantial school library budgets! 🙂