When I was a child, I used to go to the library and find a quiet corner where I could read and be transported to a different world. I could stay for hours. In fact, it was at the Park Street library that I first fell in love with magic.
April is School Library Month. In the San Francisco Unified School District, we have a lot to celebrate when it comes to our teacher librarians and we don’t just go by the book when it comes to libraries.
Did you know we have more school librarians in our San Francisco public schools than nearly any other school district? Thanks to the support of San Francisco voters, funds from the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) allow us to have teacher librarians at all SFUSD elementary, K-8, middle and high schools in our district.
This is unique for public schools in California. Before we had voter-approved enrichment funds, our schools were more like other districts. In 2004, the year before the enrichment fund began, only 18 percent of our schools had credentialed librarians.
At SFUSD, all of our school librarians are credentialed teachers who plan diverse learning experiences to inspire equitable, active student participation.
During the past year, school librarians have shifted their roles to meet the students’ distance learning needs: providing literacy instruction to small groups of students, creating video tutorials to help families access ebooks and digital tools, and recording read alouds of engaging and culturally responsive books to support classroom instruction.
With school buildings closed, teacher librarians have created virtual spaces for students to connect outside of class: clubs for tinkering, crafting, and of course, reading!
Our librarians have continued to nurture SFUSD’s community of readers. Since September, our libraries have hosted a series of virtual visits from favorite authors and illustrators.
School librarians have also been working to increase access to print materials. So far this year, our librarians have mailed over 4,000 books directly to students’ homes.
Our SFUSD librarians work closely with the amazing San Francisco Public Library professionals. Three of our schools host biweekly visits from the San Francisco Public Library’s bookmobile. And, all SFUSD students automatically receive a “scholar card” from the S.F. Public Library, and can ask their school librarian for help with reserving a book and then choosing a bookmobile or other SFPL To Go site close for them to pick it up.
I know our school librarians are as eager as the rest of us to return to in-person learning where students can pick books from their own school libraries. But no matter where our students are situated now, I know they’re benefitting from having a librarian working with them and their other teachers. Please join me in celebrating the rich contributions of teacher librarians to our school communities!
Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.