Elimination of SHS Library Media Specialist

By: Daniel Carson — Community News Editor

The elimination of the library media specialist position at Sharon High School at the end of the 2020 school year has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars worth of state-provided student and teacher resources. 

The resources provided by the state consist of access to a long list of college level, academic research databases, journals, newspapers and other college/career readiness materials. The Massachusetts Library System (MLS) estimates that resources would cost approximately $40,000 for an individual school library to purchase on their own. Sharon High School lost access to these materials at the end of the 2020 school year when the School Library Media Specialist position was cut.

Dr. Cathy Collins, who held the position before it was eliminated, was offered a recently available position at Sharon Middle School, and is currently teaching both the Engineering and Design and Inventions Through Time classes, as well as a media literacy course. 

Collins says that while she misses her highschool students and teachers, she is enjoying working at the Middle School. “I am having fun embracing this new adventure and learning along with my 6th-8th grade students,” said Collins.

But Collins says she hopes that a full time library media specialist position will be reinstated at the high school. “It is my sincere hope that library services are restored at SHS through the re-hiring of a full time, certified school librarian,” said Collins.

Collins says that the absence of a library media specialist is detrimental to the student population. “It saddens me that SHS students have been left without the resources they need. I firmly believe this leaves them at an academic disadvantage,” she said. 

A 2013 study that involved more than 8,700 schools and 2.6 million students across the United States supports this claim. 

The study by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation found that:

  • Students consistently perform better on tests when there is a full-time, certified librarian and appropriate assistant on staff. 
  • Collaborative planning between school librarians and teachers enhance student learning.
  • School libraries are essential to students by providing facilities and tools to prepare them for navigating the information age and entering the workplace of the future.
  • School libraries have the ability to bridge the gap between privileged and at-risk students by providing equal access and resources for learning.

In a Febraury letter addressed to Sharon Public Schools Leadership, Massachusetts School Library Association Advocacy Co-chairs, Deeth Ellis and Dr. Georgina Trebbe outlined the results of this study and expressed their concerns about the elimination of the library media specialist position. 

“We respectfully ask you to please reconsider your decision to eliminate the Sharon High School Librarian position. In combination, ongoing research, NEASC Accreditation Standards, and the potential loss of valuable school sources support maintaining the Sharon High School Librarian position,” they wrote.

The library media specialist position was eliminated at the end of the 2020 school year under Superintendent Dr. Victoria Greer, but current Acting Superintendent, Dr. Meg Dussault, says the future of the position is not set in stone. “We are in budget season, which is where we gather information and look at the financial reality of our school district. We will look at the feasibility of all positions,” said Dussault.

image from patch.com

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