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Support Your Students and Staff by Investing in School Libraries

DashBoard, Feb. 9, 2022

As we continue to navigate and look forward to moving past the pandemic, one concern for school boards is making sure that staff and students have the resources to recover from any potential learning loss. School libraries staffed by certified school librarians are an invaluable resource for both staff and students for reading achievement, access to resources, technology integration, and college and career readiness (by teaching research and digital citizenship skills).

Some facts about today’s school libraries staffed by certified school librarians:

  • They are dynamic learning centers that support the goals of administrators to ensure that students are prepared to succeed in college or career.
  • Multiple studies show that school libraries staffed by certified school librarians increase student reading and writing achievement, especially the achievement of at-risk students. New research shows that school libraries/librarians had the largest impact in closing the achievement gap in literacy levels due to poverty. School librarians also improve graduation rates and help students be better prepared for college and career.
  • The allowable expenses of federal funds include school libraries/librarians (any activity authorized by ESEA of 1965) as clarified in this memorandum from the Michigan Department of Education. This includes Title I, Title IIA, Title IV, which can be spent on personnel, resources and professional development including training for teachers to become certified in library media.

Certified school librarians, also called Library Media Specialists in Michigan, are the staff at the heart of school libraries. They are teachers who hold Michigan Teaching certificates with the Library Media (ND) endorsement. Certified school librarians are uniquely qualified to carry out the five roles of a school librarian: teacher, literacy and reading expert, information specialist, program administrator and leader.

From reading instruction to information specialists, developing programs and resources, and leading a reading culture—school librarians can help collaborate with educators and students across the district for the benefit of all.

With current and planned increases in state and federal funding, now is the time for your district to invest in school libraries.

Resources Available

If your district would like to reinstate school librarians, but cannot find certified staff, remember that at the elementary level, teachers with all-subjects certification may teach in the Library/Media Center. In addition, Wayne State University has an online program where teachers can earn their Library Media certification with 15 credit hours. The Proud Michigan Educator grant program can help pay for the additional endorsement.

MDE has published guidelines on staffing school libraries. The Visual Guideline to Staffing Choices in School Libraries document shows the areas of expertise and training of certified school librarians versus other staff using a green, yellow and red light system.

The MDE Effective School Library Toolkit for Administrators explains the what, why and how of school libraries including a sample job description for media specialists. The Library of Michigan has a Model School Library Program where each year a new library is selected to showcase the potential a quality school library program can bring to a school community. Interested administrators and staff can arrange to visit these libraries.

If you would like additional information or to speak with an excellent librarian who can help you consider steps toward bringing back your school’s library, Kathy Lester, from the Michigan Association for Media in Education is an excellent resource: [email protected].

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