Room for Debate: Are School Librarians Expendable?

| July 1, 2011

The New York Times “Room for Debate” series often features smart commentary on genuinely interesting issues. This recent edition is no exception:

Room for Debate: Are School Librarians Expendable?

The authors raise a number of important points:

  • How can we prevent libraries from being undervalued when their true value is so difficult to measure?
  • Can some of librarians’ responsibilities be effectively shifted onto classroom teachers?
  • To what extent are school principals constrained such that they have no choice but to cut librarians?
  • How can schools partner with public libraries to make better use of the resources of both?
  • How can librarians change their own roles to become more relevant in our digital age?

Do any of the featured authors hit the nail on the head or really miss the point? Also, I wonder about the effects on colleges if K-12 schools cut librarians. Will some of their savings be externalized as costs to post-secondary institutions whose librarians must assist an increasingly research-illiterate student body?