HOT TOPIC: School Librarians
Volume 3, Issue 6 - October 15, 2006

"Tomorrow is School Librarian's Day! There is also an International School Library Day to be celebrated October 23 rd and a Thank You School Librarian Day next April. Regardless of which days you choose to observe, there's never a bad time to recognize your school librarian.

Whether you term the position school librarian or media specialist, the job largely is the same: serving as the chief information specialist for schools through a variety of traditional and digital media. This includes being a champion of children's literature in the curriculum, supporting teachers in promoting research and information skills in instruction, and acting as an agent for integration across subject areas and grade levels. All this is on top of the more mundane work of acquisitions and collection development, cataloguing and circulation of materials, and managing a budget on a shoestring.

In a more global and philosophical sense, our librarians are the guardians of free and unfettered access to information in a democratic society. At the dawn of the Information Age, this is no small role. Where they once addressed issues of censorship regarding books and periodicals, today's librarians are on the front line of our national discussion about Internet content filtering and the role of digital access to information in an open society. This is not always a popular or easy position to defend, as not all online resources are appropriate for all age groups or communities. Yet librarians stand in and continue to hold the line for freedom of information.

The truth is the many functions of the librarian do not simply concern information and education; librarians are guardians of culture. From collections to research to literacy, our librarians are the champions of the rich and varied life we enjoy today. At any point that society finds itself zooming in on hot button issues such as censorship or public funding, all it need do is step back and realize this larger context in which librarians serve us all. How do you put a price tag on this? How can you minimize the value of librarians in society? Ironically, it is perhaps the most underfunded, undervalued profession in the humanities.

As School Librarian's Day approaches, share this week's D12 with your librarian and let him or her know how much you value their work."

©2005 Walter McKenzie

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