By Daniel Carson – Editor-In-Chief
The position of Library Media Specialist at Sharon High School was eliminated at the end of the 2019-2020 school year resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars worth of state-provided student and teacher resources.
The resources provided by the state consist of free access to a long list of college-level, academic research databases, journals, newspapers, and other college/career readiness materials. According to the Massachusetts Library System, the resources would approximately cost $40,000 for an individual school library to purchase on their own.
Dr. Cathy Collins, who held the position before it was eliminated, was offered an available teaching position at Sharon Middle School.
Collins says that no longer having these databases is a big loss. “It saddens me that SHS students have been left without the resources they need. I firmly believe this leaves them at an academic disadvantage,” said Collins.
Now, over a year after the loss of the position, the repercussions are becoming clear.
Senior Mason Kilduff, a student in Sharon High School’s Humanities class, says, without access to the databases, it is hard to find trustworthy sources for his writing assignments. “I have to think about the reliability of each website I use, before I wouldn’t have even had to think about it,” said Kilduff.
Sharon High School Principal Mr. Joe Scozzaro says he agrees with Kilduff and says this is why “restoring the position is top priority.”
Scozzaro says that while he hopes the position will return it is not something that will happen this year. “For this current school year, we are operating on the budget that was approved by the School Committee and the town early in the spring of last year,” said Scozzaro.
“Last year was a challenging year for many reasons and the budget was also very tight and we could not restore the library teacher position,” he added.
Until the position can be restored Scozzaro suggests students should look for alternative ways to do research. “I would recommend that students discuss this issue with their teachers and explore alternatives,” he said.
Scozzaro says students can also do research through public library databases. “To access the research databases through the public library system, students would just need to get a free public library card,” said Scozzaro.
“Of course, this is not ideal and in no way do I wish that this remains a permanent situation,” he added.
With the absence of a library media specialist, many have questioned what the library should be used for.
Scozzaro says it still has many functions, even though it is not currently being used to check out books. “My vision for the library this year is that it remains a space where students can work, study or read quietly,” said Scozzaro.
“The library is where students who have scheduled Directed Study, Virtual High School, and some Independent Study classes meet,” he added.
Scozzaro says the library is available for classes to use as well. “In addition, teachers may request to bring their classes to the library to do special projects or make use of the resources and/or the space. On occasion, we have some classes that meet in the library if their teacher is absent and we cannot provide a substitute to cover the class in their assigned classroom,” said Scozzaro.
Scozzaro says he will push for the return of a library media specialist in future discussions. “I am committed to advocating for the restoration of that position to our budget for the next fiscal year, as I…see it as a top priority,” said Scozzaro.
Update: Previous Library Media Specialist Dr. Collins is meeting with Sharon Public Schools Superintendant, Dr. Peter Botelho on October 12th to discuss the future of the position at the highschool. Collins says she hopes staff and students will make their voices heard and push for the restoration of a Certified Library Media Specialist.
Link to the original story here: https://shstalon.com/2020/12/17/elimination-of-shs-librarian/