Monday, February 22, 2010

Libraries Need Books AND Computers

Here's an interesting article from The Telegraph.co.uk. Apparently the National Literacy Trust did a study which found that less than half of the children studied aged between nine and fourteen read fiction more than once a month. They are more likely to read websites and emails for leisure. While I can't help feeling sad about the fun they're missing, I admit to feeling pleased they are reading at all. Besides, fiction isn't the answer to everyone's reading needs.


This quote from the article had me nodding my feathered head:


Academics believe there is abundant evidence that reading for fun is key to improving literacy from a very early age.


A new London University study, released today, shows that three-year-olds who are read stories every day tend to have significantly better reading abilities by the age of five than those who are not.


If they'd asked us, they could have saved themselves all that money.


And here is the quote from the article that made me cry:


But many fear schools are contributing to the problem by downgrading libraries in favour of web-based learning.


Ya think?


Downgrading any libraries at all is the most short-sighted step an authority can take. Libraries are havens for many, the one place in a community we can bank on learning being free. Libraries give us a key to entering different worlds, providing escape for some, and armchair travelling for others. In a library, I know I will find someone who can help me find entertainment, information, guidance, solutions, questions, and the way to find my own answers. School libraries need teacher librarians who know kids and know children's literature, not technicians chosen because of their lower rate of pay. As Gloria Blanchard said on The Book Chook in her article Aidan's Reading Miracle, what would kids like her grandson do without well-stocked libraries and teacher librarians?


Libraries need computers, so that we can access online information, but they need books too. Books become friends in the way a computer never will. There have been so many many times in my life when a book has helped me cope, taught me a lesson, made me laugh, made me cry, provided escape and relaxation. Our kids deserve that choice. Computers for when the internet or software is the answer, and books for when a book is needed. For when a friend is needed.


I asked children's author Sheryl Gwyther, who was  heavily involved in the SAVING AUSSIE BOOKS blog during the campaign against Parallel Importation of Books, what she thinks of library cutbacks. 


Sheryl: Recently many Australians fought a battle to save our local children's book industry against the onslaught of Parallel Importation and we won. Now all those who love children's books face an even greater concern - the gradual, insidious elimination of school libraries. Where else can children discover the world of the imagination every day of the school year? Or have the support of a trained librarian?

And the culprits to this destruction? Federal and State Governments from both major parties over a decade. The only way to save school libraries now is to harness the will of the people.
(You can read more at the Bright Ideas blog.)



The new US National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Katherine Paterson, said recently:


I have seven grandchildren, all of whom are well-equipped with electronic gadgets. Yet all of them are readers - because their parents are readers who have read to them, because they have teachers who care about literature and librarians who introduce them to books they will enjoy and be enriched by. (via Jen Robinson's Book Page.)

I think it's essential we find out from our own school librarians, and community librarians what is going on in their libraries. If you discover that you and your family will be affected, then write to the appropriate politicians and express your concern. No, your outrage.

Downgrading libraries is a disaster!







25 comments:

  1. RT @BookChook<wbr></wbr>: http://bit.ly/djtiwP Do libraries need books? Latest Book Chook post.

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  2. Good post - one with which I wholeheartedly agree!!

    The other challenge that we face though is the quality of books being stocked by the libraries that remain. Your sentence, "School libraries need teacher librarians who know kids and know children's literature, not technicians chosen because of their lower rate of pay." is just so important, I believe. Quality children's literature is becoming more and more difficult to obtain - especially in Australia.

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  3. RT @BookChook<wbr></wbr>: http://bit.ly/djtiwP Do libraries need books? Latest Book Chook post.

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  4. Jen Robinson23 February, 2010

    This "the gradual, insidious elimination of school libraries" is happening a lot in the US these days, too. Tragic, I say.

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  5. It just blows my mind that decision makers - in government, in schools, in community organizations - have YET to figure out that if you want no child left behind, then you must ensure every child has access to reading material. In the absence of reading specialists and bottomless disposable income, libraries are the key to fixing the problem.

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  6. http://bit.ly/djtiwP @thebookch<wbr></wbr>ook #Libraries Need Books AND Computers #literacy

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  7. I am so saddened by this. There are many places in the US and in the school system where libraries are shutting down. This is such a mistake on the part of policy makers. I can't think of anything good that can come from it.

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  8. Dominique@From Dominique's Desk23 February, 2010

    It's crazy that they thing that electronic media can replace traditional books. I'm glade that we still have libraries in all primary schools here in Singapore.

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  9. Yay for Singapore! I hope it continues that way, Dominique.

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  10. I agree Kelly. The only thing I can think of is that it might mean less spending and make the budget guards happier???

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  11. Terry, you nailed it for sure. I know of plenty of adults and kids where libraries have been crucial to their lives, their learning, their happiness.

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  12. It IS tragic, Jen. I certainly hope this is an occasion where enough people protest that it makes a difference.

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  13. Dawn Riccardi Morris23 February, 2010

    Without literacy, the world will never get back on its feet again. I don't know why it's so hard for the leaders of the world to figure that out. That's why it's time for people to stand up for school libraries and literacy. We need to make our voices loud and clear. There is power in numbers, and every number counts!

    Thanks for rallying the troops, Susan.

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  14. One day we will have a debate about what constitutes quality in children's literature, Jeanne. That would be such an interesting one!

    I only live in Australia, so I can't answer for other parts of the world. But I truly am impressed with the quality of so many of the books I receive for review. Australian children's writers can hold their heads proudly as far as I'm
    concerned. I am trying to make that call as objectively as I can, but it's hard to tell if patriotism is having a tiny influence!

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  15. Thanks Terry, Susan and Rebecca for the tweets. We need to stir up as much interest as we can over this important issue.

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  16. Do libraries still need books? Do people still need libraries? Must-read article by @BookChook http://bit.ly/djtiwP #literacy #education

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  17. The Book Chook: Libraries Need Books AND Computers http://ow.ly/1aBcT

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  18. The Book Chook: Libraries Need Books AND Computers http://ow.ly/1aBd1

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  19. Really enjoyed this post. RT @lcalabres<wbr></wbr>e: The Book Chook: Libraries Need Books AND Computers http://ow.ly/1aBd1

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  20. I am sad to read this however I am not surprised. I think having our children looking at a computer screen all day will hurt there eyes in the long run too.

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  21. RT @momsinspi<wbr></wbr>re: Do libraries still need books? Do people still need libraries? Must-read article by @BookChook http://bit.ly/djtiwP #l ...

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  22. Great blog: THE BOOK CHOOK. **A Must Read** Libraries Need Books AND Computers http://bit.ly/ddWIjI

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  23. RT @Thanks2Te<wbr></wbr>achers: Great blog: THE BOOK CHOOK. **A Must Read** Libraries Need Books AND Computers http://bit.ly/ddWIjI

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  24. Dan, I think you're right. I know I like to ensure I have breaks from the computer for my eyes and also the rest of me!

    I just hope if enough people talk about the problem, we can make the decision-makers listen.

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  25. Great Blog: THE BOOK CHOOK. **A Must Read**Libr<wbr></wbr>aries Need Books AND Computers http://bit.ly/ddWIjI

    ReplyDelete

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