Archive for Tuesday, November 26, 2002

s librarians expected to retire within next dozen years

November 26, 2002


Susan Peterson will be part of a wave of school librarians calling it quits over the next dozen years.

âÂÂIâÂÂd like to retire in the next five to 10 years,â said Peterson, Hillcrest SchoolâÂÂs library media specialist and a 30-year veteran of elementary libraries in the Lawrence district.

Nearly half the nationâÂÂs 125,000 school librarians are expected to retire by 2014. Replacing them may be tough because of stiff academic requirements âÂÂ:quot; all 50 states require a teacherâÂÂs license as well as library certification. Many of todayâÂÂs librarians have a masterâÂÂs degree.

âÂÂThe profession has changed so quickly,â said Nancy Horner, the Lawrence districtâÂÂs information resource specialist. âÂÂMany people have the image of the nice lady behind the desk waiting for someone to show up.âÂÂ

School libraries have evolved into media centers, she said, with rows of computers accompanying the shelves full of books.

âÂÂIâÂÂve kept the same job, but itâÂÂs changed all around me,â she said. âÂÂIâÂÂm finding myself on occasion âÂÂ: running a computer lab and using teaching techniques unheard of in the âÂÂ70s.âÂÂ

A shortage of qualified librarians in U.S. public schools will hurt student performance, Horner said.

âÂÂDistricts with strong library programs have a direct impact on student achievement on standardized tests,â she said.

The two-dozen librarians in Lawrence schools routinely provide instruction on computing and research techniques. ThatâÂÂs in addition to the time-honored tradition of helping students find interesting things to read.

Horner said the advantage in meeting new federal testing standards for student achievement would go to districts that maintain good libraries and provide flexible scheduling that allows librarians to get into classrooms and help with teaching.

ItâÂÂs possible the Lawrence district can be shielded from a national shortage by the distinguished library science program at Emporia State University. The program is among a handful in the Midwest approved by the American Library Assn.

Horner urged education students to consider a career as a library media specialist: âÂÂThe library job is the best. ItâÂÂs variety. ItâÂÂs cutting-edge. ItâÂÂs exciting.âÂÂ

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