Why Libraries Rock

“Libraries are where people start their dreams.”
~Betty, 10th grade~

Today, my Media 21 students participated in the blogathon for the Louisville Free Public Library. The blogathon was the kickoff to our mini-unit on how social media can be used to create positive social change/social good.  I have been rather moved and humbled tonight in reading students’ blog posts and their thoughts on why libraries, especially our school library, matter.  I hope that I will always honor the qualities they mentioned in their blog post—at the end of the day, the library is about and for the students.

As a little girl, I was most fortunate to have Joy Mauldin as my librarian at Midway Elementary in Forsyth County, Georgia.  Back in the 1970s, the Midway community was a sleepy little rural section of southern Forsyth County  in which everyone knew everyone and there was a real sense of community.    When I entered Midway, I arrived a reader (started at age three), but Ms. Mauldin was one who nurtured that passion by allowing us to check out whatever books we wanted; she never said that we could not read any particular section, nor did she discourage the rereading of favorites.  I can still hear her voice undulating in soft tones during storytime—every weekly class visit to the library always held the promise of some new magical adventure.  Even now, over thirty years later, my memories of that library seem like something akin to a trip to Narnia.

When I was lucky to enough to get the job to open the library at Creekview High School, it was a dream come true.  I wanted to create a high school library experience like the one I had as a little girl at Midway—many people fondly recall their elementary and even their middle school library experiecnes, but very few people seem to share those sentiments about the high school library.  I wanted to create a library program that made a difference in the lives of students and teachers, a program that was cutting edge, authentic, and meaningful.

Why?

I believe that with all my heart, libraries matter more than ever—whether we are helping cultivate one of many literacies, including information literacy which is now an essential literacy, helping a student find the perfect book, teaching cloud computing, providing a safe haven in the day to a stressed out teen, giving students a sense of belonging, or just providing a friendly smile, we are the bridge from past to present to future for our students.

I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to do something I love so very much each and every day.  How many people can say they get to live one of their major passions for a living?  How many people get to learn something cool and new on a regular basis?    Even on days in which I feel discouraged, I always find something positive that keeps me focused on my mission of creating a library that will hopefully help cultivate a love for lifelong learning and libraries.

Long may libraries be the places where dreams begin and are nurtured.  I urge you to discover how libraries can support your passions and even uncover new ones.   Let us never relent in our efforts to create libraries and patrons that dream big!

2 thoughts on “Why Libraries Rock

  1. I am taking a course for a school library media endorsement program; your thoughts are very inspiring. Your inclusion of the quote, “Libraries are where people start their dreams.” is a great quote. You mention how going to the library was like a trip to a place like “Narnia”. This brings into focus the aspect of the library as a channel for travel, exploration, and imagination. These three things can all be done without actually going to Australia, a medieval kingdom, or Jupiter; a reader can almost feel like they are visiting these places within the walls of the school library. Real field trips are great but can be complex and expensive to implement. ‘Field trip’ like journeys within the library are a bargain. Every student can go on a different journey at the same time, imagine planning a real field trip like that! In terms of funding issues for school libraries, I wish voters and all administrators could understand the incredible value of a school library. Where else can a virtual world or I should say universe be offered for such a comparatively low investment?
    The librarian at your elementary school sounds like she was very supportive of nurturing students’ interests. My own children will read on and on when they find reading materials of interest. You also mention your excitement about your own continuous learning. This is a major reason I find the library world an exciting place. I always feel inspired to be expanding my horizons and building more understanding about our complex world and the complex world of information organization.
    Your article is very uplifting. It could be in the preface of a book on school librarianship or the beginning of a keynote lecture at a library conference. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm.

    Wayne A.

  2. Wayne:

    Thank you for your feedback—like you, I was very moved by Betty’s words. I think sometimes legislators don’t realize how much libraries, especially school libraries, can mean to today’s youth on an academic and a personal level.

    I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences!

    Best,
    Buffy

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