My wife and I do not have any children, but we do have nieces and nephews with children of their own. We are big believers in education. My entire career was built on the education I received in the New York City Public Schools, then Queens College and finally San Jose State University (SJSU).
We have supported the local school system through contributions to the San Carlos Education Foundation (SCEF) and our community has passed several ballot initiatives/parcel taxes to increase funding for the schools including the San Carlos School District Measure N which passed by the required 2/3rds vote in the March 3, 2020 primary election.
So, on Sunday morning May 17th, I was surprised to receive a text message from one of the neighborhood Moms asking me to draft a note to our school board before their budget discussion meeting later that week. Here is the message:
This neighbor knew my background and was asking for help. I have direct experience with the mislead belief libraries are obsolete, library marketing, and the constant budget pressure on libraries of all types, specifically with seeing the closing of many corporate libraries first-hand.
Nevertheless, I wanted to review the current thinking and arguments discussing school libraries, so I started doing some research on this topic. A preliminary Google search was useful, but reviewing “School Library Journal” was more productive. See the image links below to explore this “bibliography.” Here is the letter I sent to the Board, which I am happy to report was read in full at the Board Meeting. The topic is still being reviewed.
Dear Board Members:
It has come to my attention that the San Carlos schools are planning to pink slip all the school library employees and close the school libraries. I have a deep background in libraries and information science including a master’s degree from SJSU and a more than 40-year career working in and with libraries of all types. My wife and I are long-term San Carlos residents and have supported SCEF for many years.
It is short sighted and ill-advised to eliminate this vital extension of classroom instruction in today’s educational environment. With the critical goal of improving literacy, school libraries educate students in evaluating and using information as they grow their critical thinking skills.
This area is not elsewhere covered in the academic curriculum. In an era of fake news, misinformation, disinformation, and outright propaganda, it is more important than ever for students to have an educated perspective on the world of information.
Moreover, librarians recommend tools and content to the students that are not found in commercially oriented search engines like Google. Understanding and being introduced to literature beyond the open web, eventually to the use of scholarly, even peer-reviewed sources, information literacy is a fundamental building block to success in higher education and career applications.
College professors and hiring managers often complain incoming students or workers do not have the knowledge or ability to do entry level research assignments. Eliminating school librarians/libraries only adds to this super important potential shortcoming. Do we want people coming out of San Carlos schools to lack the competitive and functional knowledge they need to succeed?
Libraries are often one of the most impactful and treasured resources of the school experience. Today’s students require the expertise and hands-on touch of the school librarians. The Board needs to demonstrate leadership and wisdom by making the right decision.
Please do not hesitate to be in touch if there are any questions or if further information is needed.