Celebrating The School Librarian: National Librarian Week


Celebrating The School Librarian: National Librarian Week

A librarian makes a reader.” With a simple book suggestion, school librarians create a reading experience.

Each April, we take time to celebrate our local hero, the school librarian. School Library Week celebrates the school librarian and the libraries as an approachable, equitable, and full-access learning environment necessary for every student’s well-rounded education.

Growing up I didn’t frequent the library as much as I should have, but these days as an educator, I am in the library daily. I’ve grown to appreciate our school librarian and each book they might help me gain access to. Most Lowcountry students have access to the library for weekly lessons and book check out. The library has evolved into a space that includes internet access, e-books, and the ability to place holds on traditional books (my favorite feature).

Celebrating The School Librarian: National Librarian WeekThe school librarian can help create a comfortable and welcoming space for all students. In addition to exposing students to a vast array of books and reference materials, librarians also usually have the ability to connect with students on a personal level. In part, because, they’ve read the most stories, which makes their potential to build relationships with a variety of students more attainable. 

According to a local school librarian from North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary, Ms. Carol Smith, selecting “the right book” for a teacher or student is the best part of her job. “Selecting books for a school library is more of a process than most people think. I keep a running record of books students and teachers request. I also search online reading lists and articles to find newly published books and titles that match with our curriculum. Books purchased for school libraries should have positive reviews from well-known, reliable sources. I often use Kirkus, Horn Book, Goodreads, and the School Library Journal.”   

Another huge part of the school librarians job is getting students interested in reading, according to Carol. “There are many reading incentive programs in use these days, but over the years I have discovered the best way to get students interested in reading is to just talk to them. Showing students different genre books, providing books that are interesting and are their reading levels, as well as talking to them about what you are reading, encourages students to read. Students crave books when they are presented for them, and not merely assigned to them. After all, who really enjoys reading something someone demands they read?”

The school librarian position has grown from the early days of just shushing students, so how does one become a school librarian in today’s schools? Carol explains, “To be a school librarian in South Carolina, as well as most other states, a person must earn a master’s degree. The undergraduate degree can be in most anything else, but the MLIS degree is required. An important fact is that we are a Critical Need area in education, meaning there are more positions than people. A solution to that in our district has been to create a partnership between the University of South Carolina and CCSD to form a cohort to offer financial aid and a rapid path through the program. This is the first year for our cohort, but it is looking promising. Another important fact about school librarians is that we all are certified teachers that teach classes. I personally have more education classes than most of the classroom teachers in my school. The days of stamping books and shushing people have been replaced with technology experts, research experts, reading experts, and experts in information science. Luckily, all those experts are rolled into one person.”
Thank you to Carol Smith, a local librarian hero in a North Charleston school library. Carol has been a local librarian for ten years, and has worked in all grade levels. Carol graduated from Murray State University with a BS in Library Science and achieved a Master’s degree from Waldon University. In her free time, she serves on the SCASL State Book Award Committee for Picture Books, and is an evaluator and mentor for teacher librarians for the Charleston Country School District.