Dear Dr. Griffith,
We are writing to you on behalf of the Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL) in regard to the reduction of certified school librarians serving in that position. We’ve been informed that last summer two Certified School Librarians were moved out of School Library positions and were replaced with Instructional Assistants. More recently we learned that another Certified School Librarian would be moved into a classroom and replaced with an Instructional Assistant. This leaves just two Certified School Librarians to serve the 4,500 students in Talbot County Public Schools. MASL opposes the decision that leaves the students and teachers of Talbot County without necessary resources. The need for Certified School Library personnel is specified in COMAR (13A.05.04.01) and is echoed by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) statement that “… every student in every school, including independent schools and public charter schools, should have access to an updated school library with a certified school librarian.” With this in mind, MASL is writing this letter to inform you that we believe your choices are in violation of COMAR and will widen achievement gaps for years to come.
School library media specialists and effective school library media programs are needed now more than ever to enhance the ability of students and teachers to use resources in multiple formats to improve academic achievement, and support innovation and collaborative learning. As schools in Maryland embrace “digital” transition – moving away from traditional textbooks and other print resources, the school library media specialist’s expertise in the use of devices and content is indispensable. They are assuming leadership roles by teaching staff and students to use technology to retrieve and manage information, curating digital resources; collaborating with teachers to personalize learning for individual students; assisting in the creation of new content; and leading professional learning communities. School library media specialist’s skills in the selection and evaluation of information and instructional materials are critical in providing appropriate resources to support the implementation of College and Career-Ready Standards with an emphasis on the use of open educational resources. With the newly released National School Library Standards by the American Association of School Librarians, and the adoption of them by Maryland, it is vital and critical that Certified Librarians are at every school implementing these standards.
Support in promoting reading for personal and academic success continues to be an essential role of school library media specialists. Additionally, they are critical to helping students master the information literacy process to become independent learners, assisting them by sharing their expertise in the use of technology to retrieve and manage information, and providing much needed guidance with the creation of multimedia to demonstrate what they have learned. School library media specialists support students by providing instruction in digital citizenship, including the appropriate use of electronic resources, safety and security while online, and respect for intellectual property.
As technology advances, schools are becoming sophisticated participatory cultures where everyone becomes a teacher, learner, producer, and contributor — and school and teaching as we know them are moving beyond traditional walls. School library media specialists are focused on developing “learning communities,” in which students acquire positive habits that include study, the ability to persevere, and digital citizenship that promotes lifelong learning and the use of a vast array of current information resources.
President, Maryland Association of School Librarians 507 W. Preston St.Baltimore, MD 21201
President-Elect, Maryland Association of School Librarians 9815 Stephen Decatur Highway Ocean City, MD 21842