What are Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors?
All libraries work to offer patrons the breadth of thought and opinion that is in the world in order that readers will be aware of the diversity of lifestyles and culture that exist around us. Once aware, we can each decide how to respond to new ideas. School librarians work to offer that breadth in ways appropriate to the ages of their patrons, elementary to high school.
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” (Rudine Sims, 1990)
School librarians in 2021 work to ensure that student readers on their campuses see themselves, whatever color their skin, as well as the variety of skin colors of the world in the resources included in the library collection. These windows (to other colors and lifestyles), mirrors (our own community), and sliding doors allow readers to walk into different experiences by reading rather than personal experience as well as to affirm their own individual and collective importance in the big picture of the world around them.
More important and unfortunate, schools without school libraries or librarians are missing this opportunity to expand their understanding of the world beyond classroom curricula. This gap is especially problematic in schools where the students come from more challenged circumstances where parents cannot offer enrichment at home.
School libraries build equity, as well as other academic opportunities, for all the students on the campus they serve. School libraries matter!