Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Libraries: More Than The Common Core

Listen, I get it.

I understand the attention that school and public libraries are giving the Common Core. As professionals who deal with information and research, we know that schools, teachers, and parents will have questions and that we need to support that. As with other things, we need to support it regardless of our own feelings about the Common Core, how it was created, the process behind it, how it's being implemented, etc.

"Support" means knowing what it is and knowing, and determining ahead of time, what types of resources will be needed in a library or school.

One thing that's interesting: when you start looking into who questions the Common Core -- well, there are many people who aren't thrilled with it, for many reasons. I think public and school libraries should have a general understanding of this, if for no other reason than to recognize that those challenging it, and it's implementation, are diverse in their reasons.

So, yes, that's my paragraphs in understanding and defending the role that libraries have in the Common Core.

As that support gets rolled out, I just want to throw out a simple reminder.

Libraries are more than the Common Core. We are more than supporting the stated educational goals of a school.

We are also about enjoyment. Reading for pleasure. (This is true even for school libraries, who may not be part of an institution that explicitly states this, but who understand that an element of literacy, even when unsaid, is that reading is and can be something that is fun. And it's OK to encourage and celebrate fun reading.)

As libraries, especially public libraries, take a look at programs and resources and books within the context of the Common Core --

Remember. We are more than the Common Core. We are also about escaping into literature. We are about the joys of getting lost in a book. We are about celebrating the act of reading for the sole reason that some of us like to read. Or, rather, love to read.

And that simple pleasure, well, sometimes, it does get attacked. Is the person reading the right books? What are they learning from those books? Is it making them a better person? Is it uplifting? Does it have a moral? Is deep reading going on? Is the reading being done the "right" way? Will this make someone a better employee? Is reading too passive? Isn't it better to be making something than reading? Isn't it better to be talking to people? Don't people have better things to do than read? Than read that book?

I think one of the wonders of libraries is that it is still a place for the person who loves reading. Libraries are more -- we are the sum of our parts, more than any one part of our mission. And part of that more is, and should continue to be, celebrating reading and being there for readers.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


BookChook said...

The very sad thing is that many of the pressures result in children not enjoying reading. Somewhere between pre-school ending and testing starting, many kids fall out of love with reading. It breaks my heart.

So thank God for libraries that help us celebrate reading!

Liz B said...

Sarah, yes, in a rush to emphasize skills the love of doing something can get lost. Unfortunately. And yes that there is still a place that is about that celebration!

Jennifer Rummel said...

YES! I become a public librarian to share the love of pleasure reading. Reading is fun and I feel very strongly in making that clear to teens (or anyone) in the library.

Brenda Wong said...

I am building up our school library as a fun space for recreational reading. My ideal space would have candy, movies or music playing too. I hope more libraries can embrace the makerspace ethos. I think these are some ways to make libraries embrace the recreational reading aspect.