School Libraries Matter to Our Students

By Angela W. 

My students matter. At 7:00 a.m. every school day, I open up my school library to a line of over a dozen or so students gathering by the door. They are ready to start their day and their first stop after their locker is their school library before adventuring into the world of biology, physics, calculus, and English. After the lights are on, and all the doors are unlocked, the students are greeted by me with a smile. Smiles go a long way in the library. Smiles welcome students to talk about their evening, stresses, excitements, and daily worries. I am an advocate for our students and a listener, often a counselor, even on days when I need a counselor! I take the time to get to know our students beyond what the last book they had to read for class. I get to know their home life, their work life, and above all-encourage them that I am here for them, and here to help make their day a little brighter by being here for them. All within a school library walls-many, many things happen in a day. Some students even sacrifice lunch in the cafeteria to spend some time in the library and decompress and just breathe without the chaos of a noisy school cafeteria. Of course, instruction happens daily, technology is integrated, and books are checked in and out, but that is just a small percentage of what matters in the lives of our students. The school library is a safe, comfortable, and welcoming environment and I am fortunate to work with some amazing students and staff every day. It may not be the quietest place in the school at times, but they are okay with that and so am I. When people do not understand what happens in a school library, they often take it for granted and do not see its four walls having an impact on its students. I often wonder when budgets get cut and school libraries are forced to limit or close their doors completely, what happens to those students – where do they go before the bell, after the bell, during study hall, or lunch? Do they see smiles and hear laughter to welcome them and help them feel safe so that the can succeed in their classes? Is there another teacher who is able to give time to work with them and talk to them about more than just content on a test? School libraries serve our students and they matter to them. School libraries are more than four walls, books, and computer labs. They are the beating heart of our schools and they matter to our students every day.

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