School Librarians are Superheroes

In March of 2020 we faced an unbelievable challenge in our country and school systems. At the core of the job of every school librarian is their personal space. They have curated reading nooks, group collaborative spaces and shared tech labs. In addition, their lessons embody a love for reading. To many children, the school library is their safe space. And, in an instant, many school librarians were looking for their own place in this all virtual world. A question I had filling my inbox for many months was “how is my job still important?”. And we quickly found out just how critical the role of a school librarian is no matter where they are doing their job from.

In our small little county in the most southern point of the state I saw collaboration and creativity at an entirely new level. The cliche “work smarter, not harder” really became our motto. Online reading rooms were created based on curricular topics. Virtual visits at the secondary level into regular education classrooms became commonplace. Schoology course builds were shared across all media grade levels. Groups were created to house shared resources. For the first time ever we developed a way to share lessons and content across all schools that made sense and was easy to navigate.

Outside of having to develop a robust online curriculum in record time, media staff were also leading the charge with technology concerns from school staff and from the community. School systems across our state implemented 1:1 device initiatives. Library staff were suddenly tasked with accountability and checking out tens of thousands of devices. This is something that only a school librarian would be able to tackle. And while there have been bumps and bruises along the way, speaking for our school system I can attest to the fact that media staff rose to the occasion, even when it meant tirelessly checking and double checking records for all of our students.

School librarians have done what they have always done during this time; They made sure students had ACCESS. Access to online and digital resources. Access to the free resources from other partners and school systems across our state. Access to laptops, ipads, chargers and hot spots to make sure that learning was equitable and consistent for all families. They did this all while still being teachers, parents, and caregivers. 

Our school librarians saved the day by doing what they have always done - being collaborative partners and leaders. The physical spaces where we work may have evolved over the last year but the job has remained the same. The pandemic has highlighted that the need for a school librarian is multi-faceted and absolutely vital to the strength of our school systems.

Heather Wysokinski is the Supervisor of Accountability and Library Media for St. Mary’s County Public Schools. She has spent the last 20 years in many roles in education: English teacher, online teacher, Media Specialist, adjunct college instructor, and now in her current position. Of all of the positions in education she has held, working with school library media has been the most rewarding! 

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