There have been good things happening in the Ogden School District. There is passion to see that students' test scores improve and students graduate with the skills they will need for the work they do and the lives they will lead.
OSD is in the unique position of being one of few Utah school districts that employ professionally-trained, certified teacher librarians in all schools within the district. The primary purpose of the library media program is to empower students to be critical thinkers, make informed choices and be problem solvers. Dr. William A Sederburg, recently retired Utah Commissioner of Higher Education, said "Preserving and expanding school libraries are essential to our success in this information-intensive age. The school library isn't your mother's library anymore."
A teacher librarian is a certified teacher with a Master of Library and Information Science Degree or a Utah Library Media Endorsement. The students in Ogden's 15 elementary schools have the unprecedented opportunity of starting in Kindergarten to become effective users and producers of ideas and information, make informed choices and develop a love of reading and learning. The elementary teacher librarian works with all the students, all the teachers, every grade and every subject in the entire curriculum, every day, throughout the school year. The teacher librarian works with these same students throughout their seven elementary school years. By the end of their sixth grade year, they have had regular learning experiences with Media Literacy (applying critical thinking to messages in media), Information Literacy (accessing, evaluating, and applying information in a variety of formats), and Literature (value reading for information and enjoyment). The school library curriculum is geared to inquiry based learning. Secondary teacher librarians continue building on this foundation, collaborating with classroom teachers and assist students in becoming responsible digital citizens using the Big6 Information Problem Solving Skills.
Twenty-four independent state studies from across the nation now document the definite impact of teacher librarians and school libraries on students' achievement scores. These studies show a direct correlation between quality school library media programs with teacher librarians and increased student achievement, as shown through increased reading levels, higher test scores, and general overall academic achievement.
Odyssey Elementary teacher librarian, Angie Woodring, was the only Utah recipient of the Laura Bush Foundation Grant in 2010. Horace Mann Elementary teacher librarian, Brett Bullough, keeps the library media center open Thursday evenings for students and parents to use computers, check out materials and have help with homework. Polk Elementary teacher librarian, Shelly Ripplinger, collaborates with teachers and students in the Enrichment Program. Bonneville Elementary new teacher librarian, Amy Jamison has tripled circulation of materials in one year. OSD library media centers are flourishing because teacher librarians are in the right place to see that Ogden School District's Mission of "maximizing educational opportunities for all students in a safe nurturing environment" is happening.
The roles of the teacher librarian are diverse. She/he is a:
* Teacher whose classroom and climate of learning is the library
* Instructional Partner who collaborates with classroom teachers, administrators and parents
* Information Specialist who filters and shares appropriate and reliable resources with users
* Reading Advocate who works with children to help them to value reading and become lifelong readers
* Program Manager who purchases, catalogs and maintains a current collection that is accessible to all users along with a myriad of other activities required to keep the school library program running smoothly
Knowledge shifts in the digital world. Students need to be critical thinkers. Success in the 21st century requires being an effective user and producer of ideas and information. Each of these roles has a direct impact on the opportunity for student achievement.
Pete Ashdown, founder and CEO of XMission, said "School libraries are essential to educate children in researching knowledge. The modern Internet has added to, and not supplanted, the skills required to locate information. School libraries and teacher librarians should be supported as the heart of every school."
Before the thriving library media program in Ogden School District is dismantled, it would be wise to see what would be lost:
* Reading scores are improving. To continue this critical success, students need access to books that are selected by knowledgeable, professionally-trained teacher librarians who know the entire body of literature for young people, curriculum standards, and concepts of child development, and can match children and books appropriately to serve individual student needs.
* When teacher librarians collaborate with classroom teachers to enrich curriculum content, by suggesting relevant resources and, whenever possible, by team teaching, they help create more authentic learning experiences.
* School library collections inform, educate, entertain, and enrich students at all levels. These collections need professional overseeing.
* When students are able to explore information that is meaningful to them, they not only learn faster but their literacy skills grow rapidly; they learn how to learn.
* The directors of Utah's academic libraries in all our universities and colleges urge support for teacher librarians as an investment in quality education that will benefit students throughout their academic careers.
* Students who join the workforce directly from high school, also are enhanced by the information and media literacy skills acquired, as well as by their value of reading.
Now is the time to protect and enhance a powerful OSD resource: teacher librarians and a strong school library media program that benefits all students, Kindergarten through high school, with 21st century skills to be better prepared for life.
Kathy Gambles is a member of schoollibraryPALS.wikispaces.com.