Those of us in the profession know the value and importance of having a qualified, effective school librarian at the help of quality school library. We know the benefits to the students and the entire school population. We know that school librarians are essential. According to the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), school librarians are including as “specialized instructional support personnel.” ESSA does not go as far as to require a school librarian in every school, but it does speak directly to the importance of school librarians and allows school districts to provide support for school library programs and professional development.
Sometimes my mind gets ahead of me, and I think about what could be. I imagine a world with a qualified, effective school librarian in every school. I imagine those librarians taking full advantage of professional development to bring the latest and greatest research-based practices to their students and teachers. I imagine highly skilled and motivated librarians working with excited students as they make new discoveries and connections. I imagine vibrant, active learning spaces where needs are met and students have a chance to be successful.
Then I worry. What will happen if all states embrace ESSA and decide to do what is best for their students and require a school librarian in every school? Are there enough qualified school librarians waiting in the wings to take those positions? Where will they come from? How will administrators know if their new recruits are ready for the challenges they might face if they walk into a school where there has not been a school librarian?
It is essential for those of us currently in the profession to tag our teacher colleagues and invite them to consider becoming a school librarian. When we see the dispositions that are important to be an effective school librarian, we need to point it out to those people and our administrators. We need to be the ambassadors for the future of school libraries and bring in fabulous new colleagues who will enrich the profession.
More information about ESSA can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/essa?src=rn Additionally, AASL has gathered resources and information related to ESSA and what it means for school librarians. http://www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy/legislation/essa I encourage you to read through these items and become aware of what is coming our way. Be involved and interested. Be an advocate and a recruiter.