Thursday, April 1, 2010

Get Schooled! It's School Library Month!

No kidding.

From April 1 - 30 is School Library Month. And, for those of us who were woefully unaware of such a celebration (yes, I'm raising my hand in shame), it's the 25th anniversary of School Library Month.

Across the Twitterverse people are marking the occasion by decorating their avatars with Twibbons (yes, that last phrase sounds utterly insane, but it's cool) and I'm asking folks to share with me some way a school librarian encouraged their love of reading.

Here, I'll start... I'll admit to being spoiled when it came to having access to books. My aunt was the head librarian (and essentially a founder) of what grew to be a very well-respected library in Virginia. That also meant she knew what books to buy (and which ones we'd think were cool). Birthdays and holidays meant boxes (yes, plural) of books would arrive for us. And it was awesome--most of the time.

But there came a time when I was choking on my aunt's choices (hey, I was a teen!) and the nearest public library was "in town." Since that translated to a 25 minute drive I had few options. I started reading my dad's books. Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony (my eyes were opened by Xanth!)... But that wasn't all I wanted.

I wanted to read about ghosts.

Weird stuff had always happened around me (still does, if you ask my hubby's opinion ;-) and I wanted to understand the unseen world. And Dad had mentioned a name--Hans Holzer.

My middle school library had Holzer's books. AWESOME. And these weren't wussy little fictional ghost stories that were deemed "safe" for common consumption. Holzer employed a medium and wrote clearly (and eloquently) about the ghosts he contacted through her. I devoured his books and read everything the school had by Daniel Cohen, too. It was awesome.

Later, as a student teacher doing my first of two cooperative teaching experiences, I was at another school (this one a high school). I was putting together a team-taught block-scheduled set of coordinated lesson plans about the Roaring Twenties ( I love that period!) with a full "stick up" and crime scene investigation (this was before CSI was hot, kids). I needed research and I delved into the school library and found a book called something like "Blood, Bullets and Bad Men"? I wish I could find a copy now. It was old already, but such an awesome resource.

Was it politically correct? No. Clean, safe, scrubbed appropriately so it was free of all dangerous concepts? No. It was about historical criminals.

And it was impressive in its scope. (I should probably also mention that this particular high school produced a high proportion of students seeking law degrees or involvement in law enforcement. Was it the chicken or the egg? Did the book choice influence career choice or career choice influence the books lining those shelves? Who knows?)

But if those school librarians hadn't had the foresight to stock unique books filled with fascinating information that forced readers to stretch their minds the world would be an even poorer place.

So tell me: What has a school librarian or school library done for you? What have YOU done for them? Or, if YOU are a school librarian, what do you hope people do to support your work getting books into young hands?

Thanks, gang! Can't wait to read your stories and thoughts!


DJ's Life in Fiction said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJ's Life in Fiction said...

I wouldn't have started reviewing books if it weren't for my local librarian. They told me about the review program at Schuler Books and Music, which resulted in being able to read amazing books before the public and connecting with several authors. I owe them a lot and I hope they know how grateful I am.

Sheila Deeth said...

Our school library had a rule that you had to take out one nonfiction book for each fiction book. I quickly discovered Greek Mythology which was classified as non-fiction. Happy days.

Shannon Delany said...

Awesome! DJ, Sheila, thank you SO much for sharing--I think we often forget the awesome resources (both book and human) that libraries give us and I'm so glad you still remember yours. Sheila--I love that rule, it's a great way to get kids to diversify!


Heather said...

Our tiny little school library was a wonderland for me. They had all of Walter Farley's books and when I was eight that was all I cared about! Those books sparked my interest in reading and writing. As for the library, can't say that I ever looked up from the pages to notice who it was...