By Kathy Mansfield

April is National School Library Month, so now is the perfect time to share your appreciation for school librarians and the impact they have on student success.

Andy Weir, 2017 national spokesperson for School Library Month and author of “The Martian,” said school libraries had a big impact on him during his formative years.

“In high school, I was the stereotypical nerdy, unpopular kid,” said Weir. “I got bullied a lot, in no small part because I was a smart aleck. The school library became my sanctuary. It was the one place I could go without encountering the bullies who would harass and belittle me.

“I’d read random encyclopedia entries – an early version of a ‘Wikipedia Wander.’ Libraries provide more than just knowledge. They provide a venue for learning and contemplation. I wouldn’t be who I am without that little school library and the shelter it provided me.”

The library is the learning hub of every school, with the school librarian providing instruction, co-teaching and curricula support for all students, teachers and subject areas. School librarians certainly promote reading, but they also engage students in inquiry research, model ethical use of information and guide students in safe and responsible use of technology to produce digital products and to display learning in creative ways.

School librarians have been and continue to be at the forefront of information literacy and media literacy instruction. Through the years, the forms of media change, but the strategies to discern unbiased information from biased hold true. Certified school librarians provide guidance and support to students as they wade through the sometimes overwhelming streams of information around them. The role of the certified librarian in our schools is vital to the development of a skill set for our students to interact and engage with a media- and information-rich world.

Kentucky state statutes (KRS 158.102) ensures that each elementary and secondary school has a library media center “to promote information literacy and technology in the curriculum, and to facilitate teaching, student achievement, and lifelong learning” and employs a certified school librarian “to organize, equip, and manage the operations of the school media library.” That means that all students in Kentucky public schools have access to a certified librarian to empower them for a successful future.

This month, reach out to the librarians in your schools and districts and thank them for the important role they play in empowering students to be tomorrow’s leaders.