In Defense of Librarians

“I think I like librarians more than teachers,” Joel says.

I cringe. “I thought you love your teacher.”

“I do. But I like what librarians do. Teachers want to know how fast you read. Librarians want to know what you want to read and why.”

“That’s not always true,” I challenge.

“But most of the time it is. In library time, we don’t have wrong answers. We don’t even have wrong questions. She just makes suggestions to help us ask better questions.”

“Oh,” I say.

“If I want to answer a question, I can go to Google like a grown-up does. If I want to know the right answer, I can ask my teacher. But if I want to ask my own questions and find out how to find my own answers, I can go to the librarian.”

I’m not sure how accurate his observations are. I know that his thoughts don’t even come close to describing the role of librarians. Still, in an age where librarians are being cut from schools and replaced by reading and math specialists, I think my son has made a great argument for rethinking our priorities.

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13 thoughts on “In Defense of Librarians

  1. Hi, John. I am really enjoying your blog. As a community college librarian, I can say that if helping students ask better questions isn't what librarians do, it should be.

  2. As a teacher, may I say that if the kinds of things librarians do aren't happening in my classroom, I feel as though I'm not doing my job? I 100% support librarians. I just don't see those traits as existing in opposition to classroom learning.

  3. "If I want to answer a question, I can go to Google like a grown-up does. If I want to know the right answer, I can ask my teacher. But if I want to ask my own questions and find out how to find my own answers, I can go to the librarian."
    This quote really struck a chord with me. I think he has it right. I think too many teachers are focused on the right answer because of the inane testing culture we have let school become. I am a teacher, but I am passionate about helping kids ask their own questions and answers to what is important to them. I love reading all kinds of kids' books and being able to put the right book in a kid's hands.
    Teachers and librarians can continue to work together for this goal.

    Laurie Fowler

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