A few weeks back I attended a four day training hosted by a neighboring district. Now, there were the usual concerns associated with a near week long training...Which room would we be crammed into? Would there be adult size chairs? Would the presenters realize they were training adults and not children? Might there be water? Or dare I dream for snacks? My concerns were superficial. The real issue ran much deeper than my own personal comfort.
Day 1, I felt successful because I had battled the parking lot and still managed to have five minutes to spare as I approached our meeting space, the library. By morning break on day 2, I began to notice the books on the shelves. The worn banners that read "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction." As we ate lunch, I realized that our meeting space, the library, had been void of any students. Absent of the eager reader who knows the library is closed, but just has to check-out a new book. Missing of the reluctant reader who has a special bond with the librarian. A space filled with books with zero student activity. A space that eerily felt as though there was a story to be told about what once existed.
Day 3, I finally asked the question, "Umm, what have the students and the librarian been doing since we've overtaken their space for the last few days?" Individuals from the hosting district seemed not to hear my question. My colleague whispered to me "Librarians were cut four years ago. Teachers bring their kids to check out books when time permits." As my heart sank, I simultaneously felt ridiculous for not putting two and two together. The ironic part is that the school that hosted our training is "the school" in the district. Oh, and did I mention it is also an "A" school? How can parents choose to send their students to a school that is void of a library? How can you get the highest grade and not have a library?
Now, not too long ago, in a far away land, I too lived in a school without a librarian, and a vacant library. Fast forward, two years and that reality has almost been erased from my memory. Fortunately, at our "A" school, we have a librarian that embodies the spirit, conviction and craftsmanship of an educator devoted to the love of reading. The students in my school reap the benefits of the world of reading at the top of the stairs, led by their librarian who not only knows every student's name, but which book speaks to their reading passion.
I realize that some people in the four day training never thought twice about the room they were in, and what use to exist. I am thankful that my last few years have reminded me that there are certain things in education that should never be on the chopping block. I suppose my greatest worry is for those individuals who can't remember the days of a librarian and their library. Seems to me that we might be taking a chance to lose even more. Today a vacant library, tomorrow a vacant...