Some of the most fond memories from elementary school are from the days when class visited the school’s library. Getting a break to leave the classroom to become immersed in a book was the most enjoyable part of the day for so many students. Unfortunately, many children will not be able to create these memories that we enjoy.
As a result of tighter school budgets, funds to certain programs, that are deemed as less-important by some, are being cut. Over recent years, we have seen many schools cut their library program funds, meaning their students no longer have access to new reading materials or qualified librarians.
What most overlook is that the school library is there to ensure student success, providing them with specific guidance so they can succeed academically. Without this ongoing support, students are left to their own devices. The effects of library-cutting has been proven by a study done by School Library Journal, with data from National Center for Education Statistics, which shows that there is a relationship between a school having their library and their students having higher testing scores. More specifically, schools that cut funding to their library programs saw drops in their students’ standardized test scores.
The importance of books goes beyond test scores, as it helps students mature in ways that only a library program is capable of doing. Reading at a young age allows students to develop confidence, their imagination and their ability to empathize. While some students have the desire to read on their own terms, having professionals present to help those who are hesitant to read is crucial, in order to receive guidance to develop skills they may lack.
That’s the purpose of the librarian. It’s easy to overlook that the purpose of the library is to guide students on a path to academic success. Librarians are professionals in information research, but are overshadowed by the misconception that they are there simply to check out books. The result of this is that they are replaced with cheaper, under-qualified clerks who are unable to assist students, other than helping them check out books.
It is rarely seen as a popular move to make budget cuts because we like to see students provided with more educational opportunities. However, difficult decisions must be made in order to balance a budget, and some of the funds we see being cut regularly are school library funds. As we all learned from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a world without reading creates a dystopia, in which we are unable to think creatively or live without electronics. While I hope we don’t develop to the point of burning our books, a school’s cutting of student access to educational materials is eerily similar to the overall theme of the book. For a more meaningful learning experience, a student’s access to their school library is crucial.
Contributed by: Nicholas Prajka