“Our Library as an Instrument for Change”
There are certain truths I hold to be self-evident. The Red Sox are the cursed underdog, and the Yankees are the evil empire. People don’t really want to hear about the weird dream you had last night. Desserts should only contain chocolate and other sweet ingredients...not anything healthy like fruit. When someone asks how you are, you are never, ever to use the
non-descriptive word “fine.”
Another, perhaps more serious and meaningful, belief I have is our Armstrong library is a fundamental reflection of who we are as a school.
This school year, Mariah Pospisil (our Director of Teaching & Learning and Director of Equity and Inclusion) and I made a critical decision to invest more heavily in our library. We convinced our unbelievably talented part-time librarian, Julie Griffin, to join us full-time. Julie spent the summer performing a complete inventory of our library, instituting a new (and much easier to use) library catalog system, adding digital resources, and researching and purchasing over 500 new books for our library.
So, why this emphasis on our library? If our mission is to improve students’ literacy, those students deserve a library that is easy to access, inviting, and captures their attention and interest. Julie’s inventory revealed that the average age of our collection was close to 20 years old! That suggests the “average” book in our library was written well before any of our students were born. Yes, some books are classics and stand the test of time. However, if our students are looking for books that speak to them and speak to the experiences of their generation, we need a more modern collection. Part of our mission is showing our students the joy of learning...and bringing the joy back to reading. A well-crafted, well-led library – full of great books – is an awesome instrument for building literacy.
Books – and libraries – are also an essential tool for promoting inclusion and bringing about social change. With that in mind, we realized that an additional problem with having an average collection age of close to 20 years is that the main characters in many books will not represent the diversity of our society (and school) today. In addition, not enough books touch on important social justice themes that have emerged in recent years. Our summer library purchases were made with an eye towards diversifying our collection and finding compelling books that will speak to our current and future Armstrong students. We have found excellent resources that suggest books that are both great reads and further the diversity, equity & inclusion goals of our school.
Next week is the Armstrong Book Fair – one of my favorite annual Armstrong events. Please join us with your student and find ways to expand your own home library. Then, consider purchasing a book or two to donate to our Armstrong library – so you help Armstrong’s library be a valuable instrument for change.