by Dorcas Hand
The SNL Team met last week to plan our approach for Spring 2020. Planning usually involves a bit of review of what’s done or in progress - especially at the start of a new calendar year.
Our reflection reminded us that SNL-HISD stands on four key pillars, all of which come from our mission:
Equity for all HISD students should need no explanation. We in SNL know that all students are more successful academically when they have access to a strong school library.
A strong school library is more than a bunch of books on shelves in a locked room on a campus. Without a person managing the library, the library is pretty much wasted space and money. Who will interest students in the available books? Ask teachers and students what new books to buy? Manage the books to be sure they are shelved for easy access by those who want or need them? Request the budget needed to buy new books and place that order? And accomplish so much more in behalf of student achievement and teacher support based on the expertise born of school library training? Experienced staff is key, literally The Key that unlocks the door to the magic in the library.
Traditional public schools offer every student within the district’s boundaries access to an education. HISD students should graduate literate and knowledgeable, ready for college, career and citizenship responsibilities. These schools need to be staffed with trained teachers, teacher-librarians and administrators whose top priority is student success, not test scores.
Students Need Libraries HISD does not exist in a vacuum. We are here to educate our community how best to request and support school libraries. We are also here to work with other community groups whose missions overlap ours. Collaboration is how the world works best.
Given these pillars, what did 2019 bring us? And how does our work in 2019 affect our plans for 2020?
Debbie Hall & Dorcas Hand were invited as guest speakers in the class after the Houston Chronicle article and editorial. Hogg librarian Mary Chance also works with SNL. The students had lots of great questions and comments – we wish more adults would ask similar questions and insist their neighborhood schools support campus libraries.
‘It saddens me’: Thousands of HISD students never check out books from school libraries by Jacob Carpenter, Nov. 18, 2019
Libraries belong in every HISD school [Editorial], Nov. 22, 2019
NOTE: Student names are not included. We made small editorial corrections for clarity.
No person in their right mind should allow a child to be deprived from the joy of opening a book and flipping a page that have words that can open a world of possibilities, thoughts, and perspectives to a child.
“I believe that when a school does not have an open library, children cannot grow their vocabulary, reading fluency and common knowledge which will influence the standardized testing scores in a negative way causing more stress on teachers and limiting creative expression.
I think if there is not a library for kids to get their books from they’re not going to see the importance of reading throughout their life.
I wonder, do schools in poor neighborhoods that have a high number of kids get the same amount of funds as a school that has the same exact number of kids but in a nicer neighborhood.
I wonder if schools in HISD that do not have a library are all the same low income area or are they all around the Houston area.
“An empty library feels unwelcoming and cold, and if a library feels cold, children aren’t going to want to be in there. The less children a library has, the closer the library is to oblivion.”
“In my opinion, children learn a lot from books and can help their skill in inferring or in speech because of the words or facts that can be learned from books like expanding vocabulary and can immerse a child in a world they could never imagine. It could also increase creativity and expand knowledge of that child.”
I feel like it is important for schools to have a library because it’ll grow the literacy of the child.
I wonder why young people who don’t use or explore their library have libraries they don’t appreciate or understand the reason they need to explore ready.
If someone lives under one circumstance, then when they grow up they will not have the common knowledge that there is more out there. When one grows up believing something it can be hard to change that mindset. This will eventually set off a chain of people with one basic idea. There would be no substantial difference (no diversity).
There could be a teacher working in the library but the teacher might not try or work hard to have a good library.
I wonder if some schools in nicer neighborhoods even have libraries even if it’s more better then less nicer neighborhoods and pretend to have a library to save money they got.
This blog is primarily authored by Debbie Hall and Dorcas Hand, but guest authors are welcome. If you have an idea to share, please contact our email below. Debbie is a retired HISD librarian and Library Services Specialist. Dorcas is a retired school librarian who remains active in AASL/ALA. Both support increased equity in school library access and support for all HISD students and campuses.