The Fading Face of the School Library …and Why We Should All Care

October is Library Month.  To celebrate this, we are focusing on CUPE members who work in Alberta libraries. This story comes from Colleen Cooper who works in Edmonton, AB.  Marle Roberts 

To my principal’s question of who to get to replace the retiring library tech my quick response was, “I always wanted to run a library!” After the proper training, I have been in the library for many happy years, loving every minute. Lately, I see and hear more and more about how the funding cuts are eroding away at the library in many of our Alberta schools. The cut in the staffing time is to the point of closing some school libraries all together or the layoffs of the younger staff with less seniority leaving the rest running two or three libraries. Many of the remaining staff are quickly approaching retirement which will leave staffing gaps of experienced, trained Library Techs.

You may say that with technology speeding us into the paperless reading era, who needs a school library anyways. Yes, e-readers and tablets have their place and Google has a ton of information, but maybe too much for students to cope with. A school library is not just a room full of books. The library personal plays a valuable role of promoting reading and turning students into lifelong readers. Through weekly story time and book talks, author visits, read in week, and so on I keep our library the vibrant and welcoming heart of our school. Being well read in the current children`s authors along with having a good knowledge base of the classics, I am a reading advisor and play the match maker between the reader and the books, hard copies or e-books. The school library and trained library staff are vital to the school and should matter to all of us!

Colleen Cooper

Library Tech, Edmonton