Slice of Life: A Library With No Librarian Is Still a Place of Books

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

When I started teaching at my school, many years ago, a budget crunch meant that our school had no librarian. The library was mostly dark during the school days. It was a travesty I could not understand as a new teacher, as a lover of books, as someone who knows the power of a library and a librarian to spark a love of reading and learning.

Well, we’re back to that situation again.

The community where I teach voted down a budget last year that has meant many cuts at the school, and one of the most dramatic is that we did not replace our librarian, who left for another job, and the library is dark again.  I don’t know if we will even have a paraprofessional or volunteer in there to check out books. It’s unclear right now.  I also don’t know if we lost our budget for buying new books for the library. Gaw. (Another ramification of the budget cuts is a reduction in hours of our amazing school nurses — something else I have trouble wrapping my head around, particularly in a Pandemic).

I don’t cast blame on my principal, who did the best she could with the budget she was given, and she was able to keep Art and Music and Physical Education through creative scheduling, etc. I’m grateful for that.

But to lose the library (not lose, maybe, as I am sure we will come up with a plan to bring students there to get books .. I hope) from our regular school day, as a place of literacy and instruction and fun, is difficult and unsettling, and I am still grappling with that change as our school year begins.

Peace (and books),

  1. A travesty, indeed, Kevin – a haunting one. Cuts are so severe. I hope you’ll all be able to figure out a way for kids to get to the books. Equally haunting to me is the number of books teachers left in our workroom, purged from classrooms… and yes, we’re all grappling with so much. Peace to you also.

  2. Budget cuts really demand close looks at what’s valued and by who. Librarians and nurses seem like not the place to go!

    I’m betting you’ll figure out ways to get books into the hands of kids, and you’ll keep encouraging readers and writers, but that’s a hard cut to live with.

  3. Wowzer! So glad I read this, it makes me appreciate our library and librarian even more than I already did! Like Melanie, I bet you, alongside your colleagues, will find a way to bring the light back to the library and spread that light, through books, to your children!

  4. Just another thing to sadden my heart. Surely your community will rally and keep the doors open for the students. How did we reach this place? They cut our librarian to half-time more than a decade ago, but we were privileged to have an incredible paraprofessional who kept the doors open when she wasn’t there. Sending hope your way!

  5. Ugh, I’m so sorry. A few years ago someone in my vicinity who should have known better was heard to say, “Well, after all, lots of the classrooms have libraries. Could we just use those?” GAH

  6. You know this librarian is mourning with you. While I am glad you were able to keep your fine arts and PE–so important, too!–I can’t fathom a system that thinks they can do without the services that a school librarian provides these days, the very least of which is keeping up with current literature for the students and staff. I hope we never face that decision in my district, which funds a certified librarian on every campus–two, at the high schools!

  7. Kevin,
    I hear your heart for the books and the children in this post. Here’s hoping for a good outcome and the needed funds in the future to have all that is needed in education. I know that is a huge dream for the future, but may it be so.

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