We all know that in the past decade the use of the Internet as a research tool has basically become the world’s only source. Think of how many times a day someone tells you, “Oh, I saw that on the Internet.”
Or just think of the fact that “Google” is an official verb in the Oxford English Dictionary.
So although our children are growing up in a world where the answer to every question short of the meaning of life can be answered with a few keystrokes, how can we be sure they are finding reliable, truthful information and not citing Joe Schmo’s blog about government corruption for their paper on the legislative branch of government?
We can only hope that their school librarians, or library media specialists as they are now called, are teaching them how to identify a proper website source from a bogus one.
Which is the reason why outrage from parents over the lack of three full-time librarians at the Warwick junior high schools can be understandable. While all elementary schools are assigned a specific time for a library class, the same is not true for junior high students despite the fact that many of them will likely write their first major research paper in seventh or eighth grade. But they had the library and the helpful librarian to help show them the best resources and how to properly cite sources, they will probably still need guidance with in college.
However, with only two librarians serving three schools, it appears the students can only have access to that librarian if a teacher schedules class time in the library or if the librarian is nice enough to stay after school on days when they are there.
So what if an assignment comes up last minute, or you were a typical young person who put off the assignment to the last minute and the librarian is not in your school that day? Or, what if your teacher scheduled time in the library on a day when the substitute clerk is in, but your teacher is too busy helping the other 20 students in your class and doesn’t get to your question before the period is over (something we all know can happen)? Are you out of luck?
Yes, a student could go to the Warwick Public Library, where a research librarian would gladly help, but that brings up a whole different list of issues starting with how do they get to the library. School librarians are valuable assets to one’s educational career because it is their job to be there, whether the student is a first grader learning to read or a graduate student working on their thesis. Sometimes they have an answer you just can’t find no matter how long you dig through Google’s one million search results, or they know exactly where a specific book is so you don’t have to wander the shelves for hours.
Is it understandable that difficult decisions need to be made when a budget is up for discussion? Yes.
The harder question is, if it is reasonable to take away a librarian at the same time we are dropping common core standards, NECAP testing and a host of other tasks on junior high students who are just entering the research-heavy phase of their education?